Monday, May 12, 2008

Polanski's MacBeth -- the back cover copy

The back of the DVD for Roman Polanski's MacBeth includes one of the worst Shakespeare allusions I have ever heard:

"Filmed in rugged North Wales, Polanski's MACBETH is a tale told by a master, full of sound and fury -- and genius!"

Yikes. For some reason I keep hearing it in my head in the voice of Master Shake. I saw the pilot of Slings and Arrows -- which I could not get through by the way it was so bad - and it included a similar allusion by a corporate lackey, and was used to indicate what an ass he was.

By the way, if you are unfamiliar with what the Internet Movie Database calls the film's "trivia," you should be. Here it is, with one note from me.

* Director Roman Polanski's wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by Charles Manson three years before the making of the film. It is believed that due to this traumatic event, Polanski developed the story to be a more violent representation of Shakespeare's play. For instance, the scene in which Macbeth murders King Duncan was not in the original play and was instead implied.

[More disturbing is the fact is the scene in which MacDuff is informed of the death of his wife and children by MacBeth when he was away from home, since it must have struck very close to home for Polanski.]

* During the set up of the gruesome death scene of Lady MacDuff's children, director Roman Polanski was instructing a four-year-old blonde girl on how to play dead, while smearing tons of fake blood all over her body. Polanski playfully asked the girl what her name was, to which she replied, "Sharon".

* The scene in which Macbeth's thugs massacre Macduff's household was based on Roman Polanski's memory of SS officers ransacking his house as a child.

* When crew members suggested to Roman Polanski that perhaps the film was too unrealistically gory for its own good, Polanski reportedly replied, "I know violence. You should've seen my house last summer."


Scene -- said...

"Sharon." geeez.

the material hit home, but is the movie good? never got around to watching it.

Geoff Klock said...

I have not seen it in years -- when I get around to watching it again, I will have to let you know.

Jason said...

I've always wanted to see this but for some reason never get around to renting it. The idea that on some level Polanski was "casting" Charles Manson as Macbeth has always been fascinating to me.

(I've seen Orson Welles' Macbeth; I thought it sucked.)

Streebo said...

Polanski's version of Macbeth is one that I've been meaning to track down for years.

I can understand completely why Polanski would use Macbeth to exorcise the demons of the Tate murder. As beneficial as the end result may have been to him - I have no doubt that reliving these moments for a short time would have driven him mad for the duration of production.

Not to sound like an ass-hat or anything, but from my own experience as a director, I found it very cathartic to channel my life experiences through my work. The same is true for an artist working in any medium, however there is an uncanny immediacy to watching one's life play out in front of one's eyes. It's a cathartic - and wholly therapeutic exercise. I've conquered many a personal demon in such fashion.

I do have a copy of Welles' Macbeth and must say that I think it's fantastic. It's an acquired taste and not necessarily one that I would recommend to everyone. I always enjoy Welles for his theatrical stagings and atmospheric lighting. So recommended for fans of such things - mixed with Shakespeare.

Since I'm on the subject of Welles and Shakespeare, may I recommend Welles' Falstaff also known as Chimes At Midnight? It was Welles' personal favorite. Good luck finding it as it has never been officially released in the States. If you have friends overseas - you can find it! :)