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New on Video: ‘Macbeth’

Macbeth

Written by Roman Polanski and Kenneth Tynan

Directed by Roman Polanski

UK, 1971

Following the success of Rosemary’s Baby in 1968, and prior to what is arguably still his greatest film, Chinatown (1974), Roman Polanski made three curious filmmaking choices. One was the international coproduction and rarely discussed What? (1972), one was the racing documentary Weekend of a Champion (1972), and the third, which actually came before these two, was Macbeth (1971). It is obviously not that a Shakespearean adaptation in itself is unusual, but rather that it so seemingly diverted from the films that were garnering the young Polanski his worldwide acclaim: taut thrillers like The Knife in the Water (1962), Repulsion (1965), Cul-De-Sac (1966), and Rosemary’s Baby. Yet in Macbeth, there are a number of characteristic Polanski touches — in story and style — harkening back to these previous works and in many ways pointing toward those to come.

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