The Tragedy of Macbeth is Polanski's violent version of the Shakespeare classic. Filmed in 1971, three years after the slaying of Sharon Tate by the Manson family, the violence is thought by some to be a purging of Polanski's own rage.
Though it is 36 years old, it is so beautifully filmed and rendered as to be timeless. Most of the dialog is straight from Shakespeare, yet the action enables the viewer to figure out exactly what is going on. The costumes are lush and colorful, the action heated.
Macbeth is played by Jon Finch, Lady M by Francesca Annis. Both are young and beautiful, a departure from how I had envisioned the pair, as middle-aged and slightly graying. Finch plays the thane perfectly...initially brave and loyal, then seduced by the predictions of the witches. When the first prediction comes true and he is made Thane of Cawdor, he and his wife conspire to make the rest of the predictions come true as well, as soon as opportunity affords.
The murder of Duncan leads to the assassination of his friend, Banquo, the only man who is likely to figure out Macbeth's guilt, followed by murder of the assassins, and on and on.
Mayhem, war and butchery. And alongside all this, the growing, increasingly evident, madness of Macbeth and his lady.
I admire Shakespeare tremendously, but that admiration rarely translates into reading or viewing his work. In this case, I feel virtuous, as if I had read and enjoyed something I had slogged through in high school.