Thursday, March 3, 2011

MACBETH, Take Two (Polanski)

Polanski's 1971 Macbeth is an entirely different beast than Welles's, directed with far less vigor but composed and interpreted with far more care. Polanski's alterations to the original text are preferable to Welles's simplistic reductions, and the pageantry accommodated by the budget is truly splendorous compared to Welles's slipshod reused sets. However, as a work of cinema, Polanski's film is vastly inferior. He encases all the action in detached wide-screen compositions and parcels half the dialogue into atonal voice-over. The on-location shooting slides into set-bound play-acting, and the only instances of intensity are to be found in the violent passages, which Polanski milks for all the gore he can credibly drain from his brutalized corpses. It is a 'Polanski film' in that it is as soporifically grim and pessimistic as only he can make it. It is a fine work, but it falls far short of Welles's cinematic aggression.

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