More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 9.09%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 9.09%

1 review, 5 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Lôi Báo by Jay Seaver

Bohemian Rhapsody by Rob Gonsalves

Fireworks (2017) by Jay Seaver

Knuckleball (2018) by Jay Seaver

Roma (2018) by Peter Sobczynski

Detour by Peter Sobczynski

Anna and the Apocalypse by Peter Sobczynski

Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires by Jay Seaver

Suspiria (2018) by Rob Gonsalves

Outlaws, The by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

MacBeth (1979)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Justin Helmer

"Wait for the scream."
5 stars

For years the only two filmed versions of Macbeth that I was aware of were the Orson Wells and the Roman Polanski. I saw them both because I love the play; neither one felt right. Then I heard that Kirosawa had done the story in his film Throne of Blood. It was better as far as getting the story across, but I missed something not having the language and idiom intact. Then, just recently, I saw this version for the first time, and I was blown out of the water.

Macbeth is the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays; it is also among the grimmest. Titus Andronicus is probably the darkest of them all. Still, Macbeth is no slouch in the human ugliness department. A story of ambition at its most naked, set in the über-bleak Scottish highlands. As the story opens, Macbeth (McKellan) has been kicking ass and taking names in a war being fought for his king, Malcolm. On his way back to report in, he and his friend Banquo (John Woodvine) come across three strange women. They greet him as not only Thane of Glamis, but also Thane of Cawdor, and the King hereafter. Macbeth objects that he knows he is the Thane of Glamis, but that he will never be Thane of Cawdor let alone the King. Almost immediately, messengers arrive with the news that the Thane of Cawdor has been arrested for treason and his title is to be given to Macbeth. This sets off a spark that will lead Macbeth and his wife (Judi Dench) down a long, dark road.

The thing that I love most about this version is the almost elemental staging it receives from director Trevor Nunn. This is not a traditionally filmed play in that it leaves off much of the extravagance that is usually a part of a Shakespearean adaptation. There are basically no sets, minimal costumes, simple music cues, and an overall sparseness that runs through the whole production. You might be wondering what is left over when you tone down those aspects of the production that much. The answer is quite simply raw performance of some of the best writing in the western world. The camera work itself adds to this feeling of not distracting from the performances. Using just the basic wide, two-shot, and close up brings the actors to the front once again since the camera is not as much a part of the telling of the story. In fact, everything except the presence of the camera suggests that you are watching a theatre production.

There are a few special effects, though again, they are used sparingly. In a number of places where bombastic effects could have been used, the director makes the dangerous decision to keep the camera on the actor. We are forced to listen to what they are saying, and interpret the reaction in order to build what they are seeing in the imagination. If this were the only expression of minimalism in the play, it would most likely be distracting yet it fits in nicely given the context of the rest of what is being presented. Also it adds authenticity, being that the words are the center of what you are seeing

As his treachery wreaks havoc on those around him, McKellen’s MacBeth becomes more and more cold about the edges. It almost seems as if he is watching the events unfold from a world away, becoming more and more a mere observer of the world that his double-dealing has created.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/12/03 11:57:15
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

4/14/15 Ceilidh Belnap I loved this version!!! 5 stars
1/07/11 Phil Moorephings Amazing. LOL, jk its s*** 1 stars
3/17/08 Pamela White wonderful adaptation 5 stars
5/25/05 Karno Surprisingly good- excellent acting 5 stars
3/27/04 Jamie C This movie is a bloody Rippah 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum




Directed by
  Philip Casson
  Trevor Nunn

Written by
  William Shakespeare

  Ian McKellen
  Judi Dench
  John Woodvine
  Roger Rees
  Ian McDiarmid
  Bob Peck

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast