Macbeth: on 7 August 1606″ (Graves 194). Macbeth

Macbeth: Play and Movie Comparison

Macbeth is a play written by William Shakespeare “that was likely given at
Hampton Court on 7 August 1606” (Graves 194). Macbeth is a tragedy describing the faith of the general Macbeth who
serves his King Duncan well on the battlefields of war-torn Scotland. Macbeth receives
a prophecy given to him by three witches that says that he is destined to become
king. Macbeth, absorbed in these thoughts and supported by his wife kills King
Duncan in his sleep and becomes the king of Scotland. His friend Banquo begins
to suspect Macbeth of king’s murder and the new king murders Banquo too. Thus,
begins the reign of Macbeth’s terror and tyranny filled with murders of former friends
and allies. Finally, everything ends with his death at the hands of Macduff, a nobleman of Scotland whose family was slain
on the orders of the king. Malcolm, son of Banquo becomes the new King of
Scotland, and thus the prophecy given by three witches at the very beginning of
the play is realized fully. The focus of this paper is to compare the
Shakespeare’s play Macbeth with the
film of the same name shot in 2015 to understand if the changes made by the
director make the story better or worse.

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The play
begins with the words of the three witches discussing where they should meet
again and under what circumstances. The scenes in the movie and in the play
differ slightly. In the movie, the
witches are accompanied by an unknown girl, and in the play, they have some evil spirits besides them, named Graymalkin
and Paddock (Shakespeare 1.1.10-11; Macbeth). Overall, the movie narrative follows
the play almost verbatim. The lines from the play are spoken by actors almost
without change, and the dialogues do not feel archaic, however, they
immediately distinct the movie from the ordinary films. The dramatic effect is enhanced
by various cinematographic effects like slow motion, dramatic music, use of crimson
color palette, and so on. Moreover, for example, the play describes the battle
where Macbeth defeated Macdonwald in no more than twenty lines, and in the movie, the battle is shown for an extended
period of time.  Overall, watching a
movie causes significantly more emotion than reading a play.

The scenes
from the play are adapted according to the description of events and the
surrounding reality described by Shakespeare. Thus, the actors follow the
author’s syllable verbatim and therefore, the film feels more like a play. However,
often the lines from the play are omitted in the movie. Mostly this is done in
order to make the film shorter and more concise and without cutting out
anything substantial from the story at the same time. Thus, the lines of
messenger and the ending of the letter of Macbeth to his wife are skipped. Moreover,
in the movie, Lady Macbeth speaks the
lines which are situated directly after the text of the letter to her husband in
person, while in the play he has not yet arrived at the room. These
permutations and a reduction in the number of dialogues do not make the film
worse than the play, and perhaps are even beneficial to it.

In the play, most of the scenery is described by dry
phrases like the name of the place where the described scene occurs. In the
movie, on the other hand, the viewer often sees the vast and beautiful landscapes,
buildings, and ordinary people who inhabit the land where Macbeth’s castle is,
and these scenes add up to the immersion of the era. There are, however, some
additions which seem not necessary to the plot like the appearance of a funeral
of a child in the very beginning of the movie. It is possible that the scene
was designed to show the complexity of life in those days and add tragedy, but
it looks unnecessary and far-fetched. There are scenes which add to the immersion,
and does not feel unnecessary, such as Macbeth’s flashbacks into the past. They
feel natural and important for the unfolding story. The music by Jed Kurzel
adds up to the suspense of the movie and highlights the tragedy of what is
happening on the screen.

Overall the
changes made by the creators of the movie feel natural and necessary for the
production of the modern film. Reducing the number
of dialogues and monologues was necessary as the movie cannot exceed certain
timeline. Thus, the creators had to choose what lines to remove, and in case of
the adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, it
is not an easy task. Often the seemingly simple lines can bear the hidden and symbolical meaning which is hard to transfer
visually while removing a specific dialog. The movie depicts this well-known
and loved tragedy in the new and even more emotional way. Special effects,
music, and excellent camera work connected together allow the viewer to see the
story of Macbeth anew. Therefore, Justin Kurzel’s movie is a great way to
revisit a classic Shakespearean tragedy or
get acquainted with the play without reading it.



















Graves, Robert B. Lighting The
Shakespearean Stage, 1567-1642. Southern Illinois University Press, 1999.

Macbeth. Directed by Justin Kurzel, performances by Michael Fassbender,
Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris, Jack Reynor, and others, The
Weinstein Company, 2015.

William. Macbeth. Dover Thrift Study ed., Dover Publications, 2009.


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