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on April 18, 2015
1971 is a year director Roman Polanski will never forget. For it is that year, in which he made this definitive version of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. 1971 is also the year in which the infamous murderer and cult leader Charles Manson got a life sentence in a California prison for the grisly murders of Polanski's pregnant wife Sharon Tate and several family friends in 1969. It is hard not to imagine that this intense personal tragedy did not influence Polanski's craft. The timing of the film speaks unspoken volumes. The film is brutal, harsh and unrelenting. According to Shakespeare, the characters are full of sound and fury, but signify nothing and that is exactly how Polanski films Macbeth. Polanski's adaptation of Macbeth is most likely the closest to The Bard's original intention of the play. A tale of lust and revenge where prophecies and lies mix with shallowness and false bravado. Hallucinations and ghosts are commonplace, while honor and courage are in short supply. This is the medieval world of Macbeth, Macduff, Duncan, Malcolm, Banquo, the three witches, and Lady Macbeth. Daggers are in the character's minds, meanwhile the audience's eyes feast upon stunning cinematography, their ears fill with Shakespeare's dialogue, and feelings of relief come over the viewer that such a world existed only in the past. In addition, a feeling of despair and sorrow arises once the viewer makes the connection that such brutality also touched the life of the director. Any student of Shakespeare, Roman Polanski follower, or film buff in general should take time out to view this film.
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on November 3, 2016
I only knew the basics of the play "Macbeth", but watching this film has blown me away. I like Roman Polanski's style of directing and I was not let down. Because of the witches and their prophecy, this movie can stand along side fantasy medieval movies that a younger audience might like, with the benefit of knowing that you're watching a classical play. I like how the witch's prophecy go from coincidence (being promoted to Thane) to a doubtful and fearful act of becoming king, to using the prophecy and altering the future (trying to kill Banquo and his son), to Macbeth's final full acceptance of the prophecy when surrounded by his enemies he yells out, "I AM MACBETH!" Awesome movie.
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on November 1, 2014
In my opinion, Polanski's version of Macbeth is the greatest film adaptation of any of Shakespeare's work. Dark, gritty, and violent, with beautiful scenery and a superb soundtrack by Third Ear Band. I'll assume that if you're looking at this you're probably familiar with the film itself. I've owned this film before on laser disc, but have been looking for a higher quality version and when I saw that Criterion had released a remaster on Blu Ray I decided to jump on it. In my opinion the picture quality is excellent. Not the best remaster I've seen, but a far cry from the worse. The audio quality is wonderful. I haven't had a chance to check out any of the special features yet but I'll update my review when I do. I didn't really price compare anywhere else, but I feel like the price is very fair considering both the quality of the remaster and of the film itself. Also, unrelated to the film, but Amazon's shipping was much faster than expected. I was originally under the impression that I would receive my order on the 4th of November, but actually had it in my mailbox on the 1st. I wouldn't say that my experience with getting my package so fast will be typical, but I felt like Amazon deserved a thumbs up for that one. If you're a fan of Shakespeare or Polanksi this is definitely a film to pick up. IIRC correctly there's a way to ask questions to reviewers, so if you've got a question about this movie I'd be happy to answer it if I can.
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on September 24, 2015
Out of all the movie adaptations of Macbeth I have seen this is the one I like the best. Trying to turn the works of Shakespeare into movie's is a very hard task indeed. Hard core Shakespeare fans could easily pick this adaptation apart pointing out what is missing & what is not word for word Shakespearian, but it is almost impossible to make a movie without a lot of editing of Shakespeare's prose if not the movie would be 3 to 4 hour's long & rushed at that! This movie will please fans of Shakespeare & fans of period pieces alike. It is visually stunning & stays true to the original story. I blanche at the idea of so called "Updating" the works of William Shakespeare changing his words to more modern speech, to that I say grab a dictionary and expand your vocabulary if you don't understand Shakespeare's word's. Basically you don't change perfection for the uneducated you educate them to appreciate perfection. And translating the works of William Shakespeare to the big screen cannot be done without making changes. This leaves the person making the movie trying to perform a balancing act and in this case Roman Polanski pulls it off quite nicely in my opinion anyway. Even if you don't care about Shakespeare Roman Polanski has made a movie that fan's of Sword & Sorcery, Period pieces or action adventure would like to add to their movie library.
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on August 31, 2017
I had some exposure to Shakespeare in HS, but never pursued it much after that. I got curious in late life and stumbled upon this gem. I've heard of Macbeth, but never knew the story or saw the play, so I gave this a shot based on good reviews here. I found it fascinating. I knew going in that the language would take some deciphering, and it did not disappoint. The ending was intense. If you have any interest in Shakespeare, this is one to watch.
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on March 7, 2014
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.

As a newcomer to Shakespeare, I also prefer true-to-period pieces and this one was, of course, directed by Roman Polanski who isn't a slouch either! I watched the film with the written play in front of me and Polanski (who also wrote the screenplay) did a superb job of making the dialog flow even though many lines were deleted or moved around. However, the content, flow of ideas, beauty of the poetry, and delivery suffered not!

Liked this version so much I rented it twice! And these witches are great too!
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on September 28, 2016
My expectations were low for this production. I was pleasantly surprised. I haven't found a Macbeth on disc that I like. This one was nearly watchable. The scene with Macbeth alone with the witches was weird and comical. Otherwise not a bad production. The characterizations of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were solid.
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on March 24, 2016
Jon Finch is no longer with us but he owns the role of the Scottish thane who would be king. Tall and handsome with the fine voice essential to Shakespearians, he moves easily through this superb filming of the classic story of ambition run riot. Polanski directs brilliantly, the supporting cast is great with special applause to Ms. Annis and Martin Shaw as the betrayed Banquo who just won't stay dead. The physical production is authentic down to the last rawhide lacing and the setting, perennially gray and misty, looks like Scotland though it is actually the north of England where the many outdoor scenes were shot.
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on March 6, 2014
Roman Polansky directed this 1971 film just two years after loosing his near full-term pregnant wife Sharon Tate to the Manson family's Tate/LaBianca murderous rampage. It shows. One critic called this "down and dirty" Shakespeare. Under Polansky, Jon Finch's Macbeth is a far more believable ruthless murderer than Ian McKellan's Macbeth's trembling, guilt-wracked, uncertainty, weakling.
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on June 14, 2013
Roman Polanski has produced a dazzling, terrifying, blood-spilling film version of Shakespeare's darkest play about evil inhabiting the title character and his equally ambitious wife. The dark, foreboding tone commences chillingly with three hags declaring the prophecy of Macbeth's rise to power. Bleak landscapes, cold, wet weather, the discomfort and crudity of medieval living - even for the mighty - lends a constant simmering unease throughout the violent and ruthless proceedings. Jon Finch as Macbeth is fine as is Francesca Annis as Lady Macbeth - the famous "mad" scene performed in the nude. The supporting cast is good as is the soundtrack, production design, hair and costumes. The film is brilliantly directed by Roman Polanski.
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