15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Macbeth (1997) [DVD] (DVD)
I'm sorry but this is just rubbish. It's a really cheap and pointless production. There has been no real thought gone into it and there is nothing original or insightful regarding the tragedy that is MacBeth.
Here are some problems:
1) The character of MacBeth - Connery's portrayal of MacBeth lacks nuance or emotion, it is in fact the dullest portrayal of the central character I have yet seen. Finch's MacBeth (from Polanksi's production) emphasizes that MacBeth has a conscience and was a great man who met a sordid downfall on account of making a fateful decision (to kill the King), Finche's is a nuanced interpretation his tyranny as much a product of need to control as it is a manifestation of insane power lust; Welles's MacBeth is more or less devoid of conscience but rather fears the consequences that his 'amoral' act may reap, he is a fearsome tyrant and Welles produces a fine display of evil-inspired power striving; McKellan plays MacBeth (in Nunn's production) in a manner similar to Welles, not quite as well and more hammy but nevertheless he offers a particular interpretaton and remains faithful to that; similarly Sher (in Doran's production) shows MacBeth to be more like the portrayal of Finch, again I would say not as well but again a consistent portrayal.
Connery however (and this is also a fault of the direction) provides no real interpretation to speak of. The notion of MacBeth being a great man with a conscience that meets his downfall is not emphasized here, nor is the tyranny thereafter; I'm sorry but Connery is too much of a baby face to be a tyrant, and he is too bad an actor to portray MacBeth's struggle with his conscience.
2) Use of music - incredibly amateurish. Blessed who is a good chum of Branagh has obviously followed his mentor's lead into ineptitude. Branagh hasn't got a clue about how to use music in cinema and Blessed is no better in this respect. He uses music in all the wrong places sometimes where there is no call for music at all. Where Lady MacBeth is convincing MacBeth of the necessity of going through with the deed of killing Duncan we have continual soppy love music in the background - it just doesn't work. For the most part, overuse of music in Shakespeare is criminal. Shakespeare isn't opera, we are required to concentrate on the language not lose ourselves in the music. The directors haven't grasped this simple concept.
3) Details - I believe this production was shot in Edinburgh castle. Regardless, the castle is too grand to be a thane's, no way could the MacBeths afford a place like this! Then there is the anachronism of having windows - MacBeth is supposedly early 11th century when windows were not common place until about 100-200 years later.
4) No clear direction - why do we see MacBeth the killer on the battle field? We see him as hesitating before killing a soldier, why? I don't understand this at all. Surely one irony of MacBeth is that he is a merciless killing machine on the battlefield but wracked with conscience when it comes to killing in cold blood hence his difficulty in killing the King. In this film he seems to have less trouble in killing the King than he does killing a soldier on the battlefield...rubbish! Why do we even see MacBeth killing the King? Why do we see Lady MacBeth finishing him off? In Polanski's version we see MacBeth hesitating in killing Duncan but then going through with it only at the point where the King recognizes him and poignantly calls 'MacBeth' before crying out - for MacBeth at this point it is kill or be killed and it is more like a battlefield situation for him again. In the production reviewed here the murder scene appears completely confused and adds nothing to the plot.
5) Lack of drama and excitement - the Banquo ghost scene is pathetic, there is no drama from Connery, it just doesn't work; the scene after MacDuff discovers Duncan is also staid and undramatic. It is just rubbish!
Are there any good points? Hmmmm...I actually think Baxendale makes a fair stab at Lady MacBeth in spite of the dire directorship. In the hands of more able directors she might have been very good in fact.
Apart from that it is all complete rubbish!