BFI Review – Macbeth (1971)

Macbeth, 1971.

Directed by Roman Polanski.

Starring Jon Finch, Martin Shaw, Nicholas Selby, Francesca Annis and Terence Bayler.


Macbeth craves, and kills, for the role of King but his demons haunt him as he slowly loses his mind…

After last year’s vivid depiction of Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender, it is worth turning back the clocks to watch Roman Polanski’s 1971 interpretation. Both approach the text with the same 11th Century period setting and they sprawl across vast locations that only cinema can truly exploit. Setting the scene in the muddy Highlands of Scotland, the director of Chinatown directs a gory, explicit version of Macbeth. As the film closes by returning to the witch’s cave you wonder if, in the opening scenes, Banquo could’ve saved a lot of hassle and told Macbeth, “Forget it Mac, it’s Witchin’ town”.

Macbeth, of course, could never forget the sisters’ sinister predictions of power and riches.

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