The Moorish general Othello is manipulated into thinking that his new wife Desdemona has been carrying on an affair with his lieutenant Michael Cassio when in reality it is all part of the scheme of a bitter ensign named Iago.
In fog-dripping, barren and sometimes macabre settings, 11th-century Scottish nobleman Macbeth is led by an evil prophecy and his ruthless yet desirable wife to the treasonous act that makes him king. But he does not enjoy his newfound, dearly-won kingship... Restructured, but all the dialogue is Shakespeare's. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Welles' Mercury Theater's first theatrical success had been the "Voodoo Version" of "Macbeth" staged in Harlem in 1936. This was an all-black production set in Haiti. Despite numerous positive reviews, Percy Hammond, of the Herald Tribune, gave the production a weak review. Welles encouraged the drummers in the production to chant spells against Hammond who got sick and died in less than 48 hours. See more »
Duncan and his men renew their baptismal vows with a prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII in 1884. See more »
Orson Welles's version of "Macbeth" makes a dark play even darker. Welles always has his own particular take on everything, and while this is an imperfect movie, it is certainly interesting.
The most noticeable feature of this adaptation is how dark everything is. Almost every scene and every set has barely enough light to let us see what is happening, accentuating the cheerless nature of the plot itself. Sometimes this is effective, but at other times it might have been better to give the viewer a break from the gloom, and to put the focus more on the characters and a little less on the atmosphere.
Macbeth the character is portrayed here in a rather different light than usual. He comes across as rather helpless and not in control of his fate, instead of as the usual stronger Shakespearean tragic hero whose strength is undone by his own tragic flaw. While the three witches seem more in control of the action than does Macbeth himself, most of the apparitions they create are not shown, with the focus being more on Macbeth's reaction. The text itself is also quite different in places, with some lines being switched to new or different characters, and many scenes re-arranged. In all of these respects, viewers will have varying opinions as to how well these decisions work.
While the result is certainly not a masterpiece like some of Welles' other films, his creative influence is clear throughout. Welles fans and Shakespeare fans should definitely see this adaptation and decide for themselves.
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