This fully restored Macbeth is the original version produced and directed by Orson Wells. In a bid commercially, the studio later trimmed the film by twenty minutes and redubbed the Scottish accents employed by Welles and his cast. This tampering with his work would come as no surprise to a director growing disillusioned with a Hollywood that tampered with all his films after Citizen Kane. Wells shot the film in just 21 days in the summer of 1947, at the small 'B' movie studio Republic. Here he believed was the perfect environment in which to undertake his first Shakespearean project for the screen. The result was powerful, intense and distinctively Welles. From the ominous encounter with the witches to the fateful marching of Birnam wood to Dunsinane, Welles the director captured the very essence of this, Shakespeare's darkest play. With typically expressive use of camera, lighting and sets bordering on the surreal, he conjured up a claustrophobic world, where Welles the actor portrayed an increasingly deranged Macbeth. One of Well's filmmaking experiments in Macbeth was a ten minute take, subsequently edited when Republic shortened the film for general release. In 1980, a film archivist in America discovered half the reels of the original version on a high grade stock, among which was this 'one take' reel. After sourcing the missing footage from elsewhere, he was able to create a high quality, restored version of Macbeth, as Welles has intended it to be seen. In this complete form, it remains one of the most powerful and atmospheric of the many screen adaptations of Shakespeare.
Interesting take on Shakespeare
- Macbeth review by Pete W
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You rated this film: 3
Welles has some interesting ideas on Macbeth. Not all come off. The Scottish accents employed by the cast make the whole thing sound like a particular violent episode of Dr Finlay's Casebook. Good black and white photography - mainly black. Welles' costume at the end of the film makes him look like the Statue of Liberty. I don't think this is the version for you if you don't already know the play.