Sunday, June 12, 2016

Macbeth (1948)

Made on a shoestring budget and with 23 days of filming (one of those days budgeted for re-takes), this film didn't do too badly, despite it's many restrictions.  Welles (directing as well as acting) was criticized for his juggling of lines in scenes, removing certain characters and putting in new ones.  An occurrence which is almost commonplace today with book and play adaptations.
Essentially he used the most important lines (often in a different order which was a little confusing at first after just re-reading the play in preparation for viewing the films), but it worked!  All the well-known lines are in there, just not as you might expect them to be used.

When Macbeth rode up with Banquo I got the giggles, I really thought that he looked like Ghenghis Khan (the hat was really surprising!).  
There was plenty of fur, leather and plaid (loads of plaid!), for the cast's wardrobe (I tried not to be too judgmental, considering that I am not familiar with the Scottish costume of that period).  I didn't know at the time that Welles really didn't have the funds to be as authentic as he would have liked to be.  Thankfully the barbarian hat was a no-show in later scenes, but was substituted by even funnier hats... Welles himself said he felt like the Statue of Liberty with this one...
Welles had a very expressive face, and played the part of Macbeth with passion ( I think he even looked a little sexy at one point which is saying a lot because I never thought of him as attractive).  Bagpipes were used in a way I have never seen before, to add a dimension of tension and stress (usually where you would expect the evil-sounding violins to be playing) and was, I think, very effective. 
One of my favourite shots was Macbeth riding quickly up to his castle, jumping off his horse and giving the wife a good snog...  I think they got lucky in getting Jeanette Nolan as Lady Macbeth ( I shudder to think of Vivien Leigh in the role, whom they had originally thought of offering the part to).  They have a little chemistry as you can see.  I think Nolan rocked it as Lady Macbeth!
All of these scenes were played out in cavern-like structures, lots of crags and dark places, which in the black and white makes it look quite barbaric. The camera tricks and angles that Welles became well known for in other films, helped to produce this sense of inevitable insanity, loss of control and destruction.  This just can't go well! This is the look on Macbeth's face when he see's the ghost of Banquo at his table.
 Just one more shot of funny hats...
Everyone spoke with a Scottish burr which was almost as funny as the hats!

One amusing piece of trivia...
This scene (MacDuff's army getting ready to charge) was particularly fierce and had a "vivid urgency" to it because noon break was just announced and everyone was hungry!

After everything is said and done, the key players all mostly dead the movie concludes with this creepy little scene of the witches observing their handiwork and uttering
                                                 "Peace, the Charm's wound up"

...which gave me the shivers!

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