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Macbeth (1948)

Passed | | Drama, History, War | 23 June 1950 (France)
In 11th century Scotland, nobleman Macbeth and his wife plot to murder the king and usurp the throne in order to fulfill an evil prophecy made by three witches.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
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Malcolm
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...
...
Duncan
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...
Lennox
...
Lionel Braham ...
Siward
Archie Heugly ...
Young Siward
Jerry Farber ...
Fleance
Christopher Welles ...
Macduff Child
...
Doctor
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

23 June 1950 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Макбет  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$900,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(cut) | (premiere) | (restored video)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Orson Welles assigned some of the lines spoken by characters in the play to different characters in the film. He invented the character "A Holy Father" for the film to emphasize what he believed was the struggle between religion and witchcraft in the play, and many of Ross' lines in the play are spoken by the Holy Father. The very minor character of the Old Man was omitted from the film, and his lines were also given to the Holy Father. Welles also gave Lady Macduff an extra speech which William Shakespeare had assigned to another character. See more »

Goofs

Duncan and his men renew their baptismal vows with a prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII in 1884. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
The ThreeThe ThreeThe Three: Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
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Connections

Version of Macbeth: Episode #1.1 (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Orson's Passion
11 July 2006 | by See all my reviews

Lord Macbeth encounters witches that foresee his ascension to power and finally to the throne. Driven on by this prophecy and his ambitious and manipulative wife, Macbeth plots, betrays and murders to become King. This is Shakespeare at his most bleak, pessimistic and chilling.

Orson Welles, a lover of Shakespeare from an early age, would make three attempts to bring the Bard to the screen. Each attempt has the same strengths (ambition, performance, Welles himself and visual genius) and weaknesses (a beggar's budget). Of these three attempts (the other two being Othello and Chimes at Midnight), Macbeth is the least handicapped by technical difficulties, even if is the weakest overall.

Welles used borrowed costumes and unusual locations (such as an abandoned mine) and shot them in a staggeringly surreal way that greatly enhances the overall quality. As an adaptation, his Macbeth is very faithful in spirit, and trimmings in the text serve only to make it more cinematic and compliant with limited resources. Never, to the star/director's credit, does this feel like a "small" film. Rather, it is inspirational, and traces of it's genius can be found in Kurosawa's version, "Throne of Blood", shot ten years later.

Essential viewing. Especially for those in Europe who have access to Wild Side's beautiful new transfer of the full 115 minute version.


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