For Reel

Macbeth (1948)
July 9, 2016, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Orson Welles
3.5 Stars
MacbethOrson Welles’ hastily filmed and micro-budgeted adaptation of Macbeth for Republic Pictures will likely insult those deeply attached to the Bard’s language—many of the actors perform their lines too hurriedly and insecurely, damaged further by an audio track that leaves much to be desired (having been recorded after the fact in a studio). Much of it is simply unintelligible. And yet, this adaptation is nonetheless a remarkable piece of expressionism, with Welles focusing on atmosphere more than the specifics of the story—the entire film feels claustrophobic and crushing, the prophecy-imposed dread manifesting in a kingdom that is demonstrated through small pieces of rubble and destroyed buildings. The way that Welles dramatizes the delirium through the sparse sets and exaggerations in scale has the feel of a fever dream. One could imagine that Akira Kurosawa was inspired by the resulting images when he adapted the material into Throne of Blood, which similarly uses extraordinarily high contrast black-and-white cinematography and a surreal atmosphere characterized by smoke and intricate lighting. If one is unfamiliar with the source material, this is a great demonstration of how the play feels more than the content of the soliloquies.

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