Top positive review
34 people found this helpful
on 24 January 2003
Prior to this 1948 film adaptation of Shakespeare's "Macbeth", Orson Welles had already tackled the play twice: A theater production, the so-called "Voodoo Macbeth" (set in Tahiti with an all black cast!) and a recorded production with the Mercury Theatre on the Air (though the recording was never broadcast). So it is fair to say that Welles knew this play better than most, and it shows in this film, his ultimate version of the play. Welles' vision of "Macbeth" is very, very dark and introspective. Visually stunning, every frame is foreboding and sinister (especially the images with the three witches - a genuinely creepy visualization) , heavily inspired by the German expressionist directors such as Murnau and Lang. The nightmarish images add greatly to the play, and I think Welles managed to bring forth the central emotions that Shakespeare was trying to convey.
Welles delivers one of the finest performances of his career. I've never quite been able to determine whether his acting abilities were equal to his genius as a director, but they come pretty close. Welles had perhaps the most expressive voice in all of Hollywood, and it is perfectly suited to the Bard's work. Every soliloquy is magnificently delivered, despite the bit too frequent use of voice-over (I prefer the actors to actually speak the lines). The rest of the cast is good, but nothing remarkable. Welles as Macbeth is really the star of the show, at least for me.
The only real downside to the production is a very mediocre score by Jaques Ibert. I cannot help but think how much more engrossing the film could have been with an effective score - too bad Bernard Herrmann wasn't available! But other than the music and a somewhat battered soundtrack, this film is simply superb.
The DVD also features a rare short film made in Ireland. Welles plays himself in a spooky ghost story, akin to an episode of The Twilight Zone. A nice bonus.
Other than that, the DVD has no special features at all. But "Macbeth" is worth the price.