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Macbeth

4.5 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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(Jan 01, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

An 11th-century Scottish general's wife drives him to murder; based on Shakespeare's tragedy. Directed by Welles.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: alliance entertainment
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008D1A18E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,341 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have this film on LaserDisc (Republic 45th anniversary release) and DVD

The visual and sonic clarity of the Olive reveals subtleties and richness of detail not present in previous transfers. For example, the murder scene -- portrayed in one bravura sequence of over ten minutes with no cuts -- uses deep focus techniques to amazing effect, as in Citizen Kane, showing planes of action close-to and far from the camera lens with crisp detail. In earlier versions, Macbeth's emergence and shout from the king's bedchamber during Lady Macbeth's soliloquy loses impact due to the muddiness of the background. In the new transfer, the superior rendering allows the locus of attention to move seamlessly between foreground and background action without confusion, loss of dramatic impact and meaning.

Also, the cavern scene with the assassins is not only visually powerful, with the stone walls glistening with sweat, but sonically as well. Listen for the sound of dripping water that becomes increasingly hallucinogenic as Banquo's last words vowing to be present at the king's upcoming feast. echoes in Macbeth's drink-addled brain. Here, Welles's background in radio serves the film well.
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This is a great film, but it does demand your full attention. You can't coast through it like you might the Brannagh "Much Ado". Doing it in the Scottish burr sets it apart from others, but also demands your listening, especially as there are no subtitles which would really help in that regard. The four star rating comes that lack and from my wish that there had been special features giving us insights into the background of the production, as I feel there are many stories hidden there, and that they would have had both the English studio imposed soundtrack as well as the Scottish one so I could have compared the two for myself. Still, it is Welles. It's too bad he alienated himself from the studio system. Everything he undertook was superior. Maybe that was the problem with it. It didn't fit the mediocrity that the powers that were were trying to sell.
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This was the first Orson Welles film I ever saw -- at the time I had never even heard of "Citizen Kane" -- and I was immediately fascinated by his performance; it was a mesmerizing one. And it was Jeanette Nolan's debut, as the sexiest Lady Macbeth I've ever seen; it was easy to understand why she had so much influence on her husband. (Nolan, a superb actress, went on to play a key role in the great noir, "The Big Heat.")

Apparently this film is controversial, for reasons I don't understand. (Some critics complained about Welles' accent -- well, to me it sounds Scottish, and Macbeth *was* Scottish, wasn't he?)

I have the VHS of this film, and I'm glad that a quality DVD has finally been released. I've already placed my order.
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It has taken until the 12th of forever but we finally have a quality DVD (and Blu-Ray) version of this fascinating but ill-fated production. As a result of its negative reception, Welles would make only one more film in Hollywood (TOUCH OF EVIL) and that was 10 years later. Between 1958-85 there are only a few finished works and lots of unfinished ones. His larger than life legacy has tended to leave most of his lesser films dwelling in the shadows although that is slowly being remedied. In recent years the Shakespearean films have resurfaced in close to their original versions. OTHELLO has been completely restored, A new print of CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (FALSTAFF) was just shown at the Venice Film Festival, and MACBETH can finally be seen the way Welles intended as the current print of the original version has not only been recovered, but restored as well. It looks remarkable and sounds even better with the Scottish accents and Jacques Ibert's music back where they belong. Thanks to Olive Films and to Paramount for giving this film the release it deserves. The inclusion of subtitles (a must for Shakespeare) would have netted this MACBETH a 5 star rating.

For those of you who don't know the film's history, here's a brief summary. Welles mounted his altered version of the play in Salt Lake City after talking Republic Pictures (known for westerns and the occasional quality production like THE QUIET MAN) into financing a film version. The cost was to be around $750,000 and it was shot on Republic soundstages in less than 3 weeks. The Republic executives had the original cut trimmed from 135 to 107 minutes with Welles' grudging consent and then previewed it. The critics hated it, comparing it unfavorably to Olivier's HAMLET which was released the same year.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Olive Films (through Paramount) released a fine DVD of Orson Welles' 1948
MACBETH last year. It's a stark film, Welles' complete
107m version (once cut to 89m) in all of its brooding glory.
Welles staged this production on the former Republic Pictures B-western
sets; but you would never know it. The moors, haunted by the
Three Witches, chill; Macbeth's lair, a labyrinth of tortured
passageways, disturbs; and all is cloaked in shadow and darkness. Welles excels
as the tortured Macbeth; but the film belongs to his manipulative Lady
Macbeth (Jeanette Nolan) who plays the haunted madwoman devastatingly.
That Welles succeeded in his intent is proven by letting one's self
descend into his world of shadow, one ruler's plunge into
discontent. Roddy McDowell's on hand as a young, smooth-cheek'd Malcolm.
Shot crisp and sharp, the black and white images cut like razor'd sword edges.
Welles once stated he saw this MACBETH as a cross between
WUTHERING HEIGHTS and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. That he succeeded
can be seen there upon the screen.
A final note: Welles once staged a famous "voodoo version" of Macbeth.
What might that have been like to see?
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