March 24th: Is this a DVD I see before me?

76. Macbeth (Roman Polanski, 1971)

Pile on the gore! Shakespeare can be a bloody nightmarish thing and Roman Polanski wants you to know it. The brisk tragedy is given the full miserablist treatment with an added dash of madness. From the opening appearance of the witches through to the brutal execution of our tragic hero this is a breathlessly brutal adaptation with buckets of crimson lavished over the spectacle. Filmed against the stunning landscapes of Northumberland and Snowdonia (not filmed in Scotland though!) the cinematography is luscious in its bleak forbidding tones. Howling winds and tumultuous rains pound over the whole affair. The whole thing is evocative of an extremely highbrow Hammer production. The crushing unstoppable nature of the tragedy is brought to an excellent halt in the final siege where Macbeth, reveling in the knowledge (or under the delusion) that he cannot be killed by that ‘born of woman’, is like a medieval Terminator. He wades into the advancing forces, clattering men left and right and shouting them down until he is inevitably felled by his nemesis. A cracking adaptation, thoroughly enjoyable in its own right.

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