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Macbeth (1971)

Jon Finch , Francesca Annis , Roman Polanski  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jon Finch, Francesca Annis, Martin Shaw, Terence Bayler, John Stride
  • Directors: Roman Polanski
  • Writers: William Shakespeare
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 1, 2002
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000063JZQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,447 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Macbeth" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Roman Polanski presents his nightmarish vision of Shakespeare's classic tragedy about the lust for power-and its bloody consequences. Jon Finch is Macbeth, the Scottish war hero whose insane ambitionunleashes a cycle of violence. Prompted by the supernatural prophecy of three witches, Macbeth is goaded by his Lady (Francesca Annis) into slaying King Duncan (Nicholas Selby) and assuming his throne. Macbeth plunges further into murder and moral decay to keep the unsteady crown on his head. Whilehis wife crumbles away in guilt and madness, the haunted Macbeth fights to prevent another dark forecast which may doom him. Filmed in rugged North Wales, Polanski's MACBETH is a tale told by a master, full of sound and fury-and genius!

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
(171)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
146 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare as Cinema! November 7, 2002
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Purists beware, Roman Polanski and Kenneth Tynan have cut, rearranged, and shaped Shakespeare's material to make a MOVIE! And what a grand film they created. Flowingly cinematic, with stunning location filming and superb cinematography the many cuts allow for a smooth narration without sacrificing the gut and heart of the play.

There was much controversy when this film debuted, probably due to it being financed and produced by Hugh Hefner and Playboy, and probably because it was unblinkingly bloody upfront (although the blood is in the play, much of it is naturally offstage), and because of nudity in several key scenes (including the witches....all those old nude crones, while factually correct, no doubt upset many). Today, these seem like perfectly reasonable choices. The film is relentless and remorseless, as befits the story. I don't know what part of Polanski's personal tragedy had any part in his work here, but the direction is excellent. Finch and Anis are fine as the murderous Laird and his Lady, as is the rest of the cast.

If you want the play, see the play. If you want a stimulating and fully realized CINEMATIC treatment of Shakespeare's great themes of greed, ambition, murder, guilt and destiny, see this finely produced, directed, and acted work. Well worthwhile.
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65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant adaptation of a Brilliant play! March 26, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Wow! The liberties Polanski has taken with the Bard's classic have really floored me. This is truly a revelation. Our English teacher showed us this after we had completed our studies on the play, and I wasn't expecting a film half as good as this one. The movie has made waves for it's gore, violence, bleakness ( hey, it's a tragedy!), and Lady Macbeth's nude sleepwalking scene, but it's all done by a man who is totally in tune with what Shakespeare was trying to get accross. Although some scenes/lines have been dropped from this adaptation (such as Lady Macbeth telling Macbeth she would bash her baby's brains out if she had given her word to do so, or the rather humorous relay between Macduff and Malcom), and some things have been slightly altered (such as when Macbeth laments that his wife should bring forth men-children only, is now an Aside), but it all fits together so well that it is barely noticable (although I did slightly miss them). Every scene from the play has been brought to beautiful life. Moments like the exchange between Banquo and Macbeth, while Lady Macbeth is drugging Duncan's gaurds, are highly inventive and imaginative. As well, I have never been so entertained by the porter in any adaptation of Macbeth before! I could go on and on, yet I am limited to only 1000 words in this review, which is not enough by any stretch of the imagination to review this fine film. Do yourself a favour and see this movie, those of you who know Macbeth will fall in love with this vivid re-telling of Shakespeares tragedy, and make new fans out of the un-initiated. Oh, I almost forgot, the last scene is one of the most unexpected and suprizing endings I have ever seen, and further solidifies Polanski's brilliance here. Truly one for the ages. A classic.
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67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Martin Brody likes it dark and violent March 5, 2002
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Please ignore the poorly thought out review on this page. Anyone with either a passing interest in Shakespeare or an appreciation of film should seek this out now. Polanski, avoiding the trap so many other filmmakers fall into, makes a film based on Macbeth, not merely recording a performance of the play. He has crafted a breathlessly paced film, making very reasonable cuts in the text in order to bring the film in under 2½ hours. I have seen much longer versions that had no grasp of the play at all.
Polanski also wisely chose not to use well-known stars for the major roles; instead utilizing some of the best (and youngest) British stage actors of the time. Jon Finch and Francesca Annis perfectly capture the most emotionally wrenched marriage ever, without the moustache twirling that finds its way into Shakespeare film adaptations too often. This film is dark, muddy, and violent; it is not intended for children. I have to assume that the people who complain about the violence in the film have never actually read the play. And I hope, for the sake of their own sanity, they steer clear of Titus Andronicus, Richard III, Julius Caesar, Othello, and if beheadings put a bee in your bonnet, beware Cymbeline!
... This is a raw, passionate telling of one of the great fictional works in the English language, by one of the great filmmakers of our time. But wait for the wide-screen DVD.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your grandfather's Shakespeare. September 10, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is violent and brutal, sparing the audience none of the blood that's implied in the play and adding some gratuitous nudity to boot. If you read the play in high school English class, you're in for a shock or seven with this version.
But I think that this is how Shakespeare would have made a movie. He certainly didn't direct his plays the way they're performed today, all mannered diction and high art. He put in plenty of dirty jokes for the groundlings, lots of sensationalist death and destruction. Shakespeare's plays were intended to sell as many tickets as possible; if Lady Macbeth wasn't played by a man back then, he probably would have wanted her sleepwalking nude as she does in this film.
Polanski has done an excellent job of rescuing "Macbeth" from the constrictions of "literature" and making it shake its moneymaker, as it were. If you can handle some gore and nudity, You're in for a heck of a ride.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great
Published 26 days ago by happymama
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Film But Beware Of Criterion
Back in the day, Criterion produced the best quality laser discs but after I paid a high price for a couple of blu-rays (On The Waterfront/Blow Out), I found the quality to be... Read more
Published 2 months ago by JNT
3.0 out of 5 stars ... SOMEONE would make one my high school kids would enjoy. Really...
Wish SOMEONE would make one my high school kids would enjoy. Really turns them off to the brilliance of Shakespeare.
A lot of inappropriate nudity that has to be skipped.
Published 2 months ago by Jenn Kip
5.0 out of 5 stars Re the extremes of opinion here.....
This film is an old favorite of mine since I first saw it in the cinema in 1971, but that's neither here nor there. Read more
Published 2 months ago by R. Scharba
5.0 out of 5 stars Whiney Watchers, it seems.
First of all, to everyone who rated it low and complained about the bathing scene - you are so whiney. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lauren
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
I first saw this film, like so many other people, as a teen when it was shown to my high school English class (what were they thinking? Read more
Published 4 months ago by John Mundie
1.0 out of 5 stars blah
i should have known with the age of this film that it wouldn't be what i was looking for. blah
Published 6 months ago by D. Dallas
1.0 out of 5 stars AWFUL
WATCHED IT ONCE AND WILL NEVER WATCH IT AGAIN- GAVE IT AWAY TO GOODWILL FOR SOME OTHER POOR SOUL TO WATCH. POORLY ACTED, DIRECTED AND VERY GORY.
Published 6 months ago by ARMAND DUVAL
5.0 out of 5 stars REALLY Liked This Version
I know everyone says the newer Patrick Stewart version of Macbeth is the best one but I couldn't watch it -- too creepy and all filmed in a filthy hospital. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sparrow
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie but not in "HD"
Only bad thing was that I thought I it would be playing in HD, but it does not. Kinda a small rip-off. Now you have been warned. But besides that I loved the scenery and acting. Read more
Published 6 months ago by LightsOut
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