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Customer Review

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Scorpions is My Mind, March 1, 2009
This review is from: Macbeth / McKellen, Dench (Thames Shakespeare Collection) (DVD)
The set is sparse, dark, and perpetually fog-filled. A Caravaggio-inspired lighting scheme picks out the actors' faces from the deep shadow around them. Shakespeare's words, in this context, take on a visionary vividness. This is essentially a filmed version of the legendary stage production put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1976. Despite the absence of many requisite "cinematic" elements, it is also by far the most satisfying adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth (not including Kurosawa's 'Throne of Blood') that I've seen. With actors the caliber of Ian McKellen and Judi Dench, lavish sets and props would be an afterthought, even a distraction. Instead, they control the screen with their fierce, combustible passion.

Through his actors, Nunn preys on the audience's imagination. Instead of spoon-feeding us a steady, predictable diet of horror show gore and carnage, Nunn emphasizes the imagistic poetry of Shakespeare's language. The language, channeled through such superior interpreters as McKellen and Dench, takes on an expressionistic life of its own. "Full of scorpions is my mind," Macbeth confesses to his wife. The horror is internal, not external, and Shakespeare's words have a terrifying immediacy that only the imagination can do justice. The barren set is a mindscape, a blank canvas on which the audience paints its own fears.

It's ironic that of all 'Macbeth' versions this is the least explicit, least violent, but is the most difficult to watch. I felt drained by the end. McKellen and Dench give such powerhouse performances the effect is of watching the complete mental disintegration of two people happen before your eyes. Impenetrable shadows surround the characters, literally and figuratively. Nunn strips the play of all extraneous trappings and what is left are the words. When the author is Shakespeare, that's not a bad way to go about it.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 14, 2011, 10:44:34 PM PDT
Jakujin says:
Great review. Poetry.
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