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Macbeth (1948)

Orson Welles , Jeanette Nolan , Orson Welles  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O'Herlihy, Roddy McDowall, Alan Napier
  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Writers: William Shakespeare
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Original recording remastered
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Olive Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 18, 2012
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008D1A18E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,723 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Orson Welles' dark and moody screen version of the classic William Shakespeare tragedy about a presumptuous Scottish prince's quest for power through patricide-in keeping with both the play's spirit and Welles' vision. As with his other masterpieces, Welles effectively mixes the use of shadow and oblique camera angles to achieve the ominous sense of a land in peril. Originally cut to 89 minutes for the theatrical release, the film has been restored to its full 107 complete with effected highland accents by the actors. Beautifully shot by John L. Russell (Psycho) and starring Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O'Herlihy, Roddy McDowall and Alan Napier. Adapted for the screen, produced and directed by the great Orson Welles (Touch of Evil).

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(39)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fair and Foul Shakespearean Rendition March 28, 1998
Format:VHS Tape
Any film directed by Orson Welles is engrossing and worth the time. MACBETH is no exception. For those of you familiar with the 1971 Roman Polanski version, Welles brought to the screen a darker, more nightmarish world than Polanski could envision. The lighting is stark and the shadows ominous. Macbeth's madness increasingly pervades the atmosphere of the entire film, making the viewer unwilling to view this film with the lights out. The restored version presents Welles's original conception; the actors speak their lines with authentic Scottish burrs (Welles was forced to redo the soundtrack by the studio brass). A fascinating journey and imaginative interpretation of Shakespeare, Welles's MACBETH remains a major additon to American cinema and reveals the classical literary talents of one of the US's greatest visual artists. END
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Returning were as tedious as go o'er." April 30, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
The good news? For his last Hollywood film of the 1940s, Orson Welles delivered a low-budget, inventive, expressionist Shakespeare adaptation that served as a template for his experimental European films. The bad news? Welles perhaps captures the eerie mood of "The Scottish Play" all too well; the film is an unrelentingly dark and often uncomfortable experience. The lugubrious pacing and indifferent acting offer little respite from the play's fatalism.
A little background helps one better appreciate this film. After a string of box office failures (including "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "The Lady from Shanghai"), Welles signed on with Republic Pictures to do a low-budget "Macbeth," hoping that he could popularize Shakespeare on film as he had done on radio and in the theatre. His actors rehearsed the play on tour, and painstakingly pre-recorded their dialogue in Scottish brogues. Welles then shot the film in 23 days, some kind of record for him. Well, you can guess what happened: The studio hated it. They forced Welles to cut 20 minutes from the film, and made the actors re-dub their dialogue with "normal" accents - wasting all that time they spent in pre-production. The film bombed on release and Welles spent the next 10 years working in Europe.
Years later, the original prints were found and released as another "Lost Welles Classic." Unfortunately, time has devalued that label; "Macbeth" doesn't quite meet the standard set by "Othello" or "Touch of Evil," two other films that were restored after Welles' death. While the Scottish accents are a nice touch, the extra running time actually robs the film of some momentum.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great From the Master April 25, 2004
By D. Pope
Format:VHS Tape
I own this film on VHS and on Laserdisc and I am hoping that it will soon come out on DVD. Certainly there are some technical problems with the production, but it is a 1948 film so some of that can be excused.
Welles vision of MacBeth has the texture and feel of a nightmare. The backdrops are unfinished, muddy charicatures of the objects and places they represent. Scotland is an eerie, nightmarish landscape that is constantly misty and partially unformed. The use of the b&w medium superbly creates a feeling of dread and foreboding in the audience who is drawn ever deeper into the madness of the story. This is vintage Welles, who loved to make the tone, timbre, hue and texture of every part of the movie relate to and support the story he was filming. Certainly the work of a genius.
Most people know the basic story. MacBeth (Which literally means "Son of Life"), is given a prophesy that he will become king of Scotland and tells his wife of the prophesy. Lady MacBeth then uses MacBeth's insecurities to manipulate him into murdering the true king and assuming his throne. Guilt-ridden and paranoid, MacBeth begins a reign of tyranny and sinks into madness. Finally, the English invade and end his reign of terror. MacBeth, who is shown as no more than a pawn in this story, finally gains a measure of grace and dignity when he faces MacDuff in combat. We finally see in death the couragous man MacBeth could have been - indeed was before he allowed his and his wife's greed to corrupt him - MacBeth rises above his fate and becomes master of his own destiny by crying-out the infamous phrase "Lead on MacDuff, and damn the man who first cries hold - enough".
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get any better.... January 25, 2000
By Willy
Format:VHS Tape
If you hated "Citizen Kane" or "Vertigo", and thought "Jurassic Park 2" or "Titanic" the height of modern cinema...you will most definitely not enjoy this film. So move on. If, on the other hand, you appreciate artistic cinematography and superb direction, and are just a little fond of something called (what was that again...?) "acting"...you might just enjoy this film. Arguably Welles' finest Shakespeare adaptation, the lunatic world (complete with restored Scottish brough) of MacBeth comes alive in glorious black and white. If you enjoy film, and enjoy shakespeare...well, here you go.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SHAKESPEARE AS EXPRESSIONIST NIGHTMARE September 17, 2002
By K. Jump
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Many have cited "Macbeth" as a horror story, and whether or not that's exactly true, Orson Welles' superior production is certainly an excursion into nightmare that even a Murnau would have envied. The sets and camerawork create a world of wet, windswept badlands and dark stone mazes in which it is difficult not to believe in witches and omens and where bloodletting indeed seems the order of the day. Though a low-budget production, Welles' movie never looks cheap and his mileu never less than convincing. Welles' own portrayal of the doomed protagonist is dead-on, and while Jeanette Nolan's performance as the scheming, hard-hearted Lady Macbeth is often harshly criticized, in many ways her vampiric interpretation of the character is unsurpassed. Likewise Roddy McDowall (Malcolm) and Dan O'Herlihy (Macduff) are definitive in their roles, and Alan Napier is strong as a "Holy Friar" who is the movie's conscience. An enrapturing cinematic experience from the Weird Sisters' mesmerizing invocation to the climactic siege of Macbeth's castle (featuring a great sword fight between Welles and O'Herlihy), Welles' "Macbeth" is classic moviemaking that will endure as long as darkness moves the hearts of men and women.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars a unique presentation
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". Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kevin D. Levellie
5.0 out of 5 stars Macbeth
Orson Wells is beyond words of praise, He is the most wonderful actor for capturing the full intent of the wrathful, and pensiveness Scottish ruler, Loved the movie. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Carol L. Chassman
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent transfer
Bare bones on bonus features, but if you just want to see this excellent and underrated film in the best format you've ever seen, this is it.
Published 3 months ago by James Chadwick
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Older Rendition of Macbeth
I bought this for my mom for Christmas as it is one of her very favorite movie, though she is not a fan of Shakespeare. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Donna L. Washburne
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant performances!
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... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Notary Sojac
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
My favorite of Shakespeare's plays. It is very authentic, and I love the scenery. The play itself has so much to offer as far as history, psychological studies, etc.
Published 7 months ago by msmartha
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Shakespeare produced on the cheap.
Despite a restricted production budget and a lack of time ,Welles manages to provide a credible version of the Scottish play albeit on a soggy film set which didn't have time to... Read more
Published 12 months ago by David Kibart
5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic and visual
Orson Welles was my first interest both in drama and scenery. Also the fact that it was Scottish. As it went on through the story I began to see all the familiar names as listed... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Kathryn L. Wimmer
5.0 out of 5 stars An alright transfer of a great film
I've wanted a decent copy of this incredible film for decades, and while the source print for this could look a little better (note the scene right before the murder of Duncan,... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Matthew H. Janovic
4.0 out of 5 stars MACBETH (Orson Welles) Blu-ray Alexander S Carter 2013
Apart from the occasional flecks and a few nasty scratches the quality of the actual film is a sight to behold. The blacks and whites are crisp mingled with graduations of grey. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Alexander S. Carter
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