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Symbolic and thematic impoverishment in Polanski's Macbeth.


ONE of the obvious challenges of filmmakers who adapt Shakespeare for the screen is to try to translate in visual terms as much of the richly evocative imagery of the dramatist's speeches as possible and to invent filmic ways of conveying powerfully to the viewer the intricate web of symbolic and thematic interconnections that reside poetically in the playwright's text--a text whose complexities Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences were better trained to receive aurally than we are. Such modifications are far from easy and require much imaginative energy. Film by its very nature is more naturalistic than Renaissance theater with its necessarily stylized conventions and artificialities. (1) In his famous 1971 adaptation of Macbeth Polanski was fully aware of such problems and, collaborating with Kenneth Tynan, a distinguished critic of Shakespearean stage productions, was able to innovate creatively in the presentation of visual ideas, thereby producing a movie version of the Scottish tragedy that has become something of a classic in its own right despite its having been a commercial failure and at the time of its release negatively received.

Thanks to Lorne Buchman, we have become acutely aware of the importance of close-ups and the technique of voice-over in Polanski's Macbeth. As Buchman reminds us, "the very first sequence of the film ... creates a sense of covert and mysterious action through the pictorial isolation" of a crooked stick that bisects the screen diagonally and intrudes upon our previous view of a "barren and austere tidal flat at sunrise." (2) The image of irregularly divided space on a rectangular screen in close-up offers us a more jarring version of the jagged line that divides earth from sky in the long shot of the Scottish landscape that immediately precedes it. Working in tandem, the extended reddish vista turning slowly to gray-blue and the obtrusive black stick alert us at the outset to the repeated encroachments upon each other of dark and light, night and day, sleeping and waking, that are to figure so prominently in the narrative to be unfolded. Polanski will provide us with several images of dawn or twilight to evoke the liminal spaces between consciousness and unconsciousness, clarity and obscurity, openness and hiddenness, innocence and guilt, future hopes and doom. The stick, which we quickly discover belongs to the witches, becomes an early signal of their malign influence, of their power to create division both within and between Macbeth and his wife, not only adumbrating the radical bifurcation of their public and private lives and his tortured conflict between imperial ambition and the "horrible imaginings" that "Shake ... [his] single state of man" (1.3.137-39), but also prefiguring the way in which their common guilt will drive them increasingly apart into psychic isolation and ultimate madness. A prelude to this latter division appears in the separation of Malcolm and Donalbain, who flee for protection in different directions to England and Ireland. We witness mass departures from Macbeth's residences--the royal court escorting Duncan's corpse to its place of burial in an exodus from Inverness, Macbeth's thanes defecting from the tyrant at Dunsinane, to be followed by the wholesale flight of the royal household from the same castle.

Physical, social, moral, and psychological division relate in Shakespeare and Polanski (despite significant cuts) to verbal ambiguity--to the language of the witches. The weird sisters, divided by age (two old and foul, one young and fair), are "juggling fiends" who "palter with us in a double sense" (5.8.19-20), who mingle truth with falsehood, apparent clarity with equivocation, and whose "doubleness" infects all Scotland under Macbeth's tyranny; the word reverberates throughout the tragedy. The witch who tells Macbeth that he will one day be king is presented as blind, appropriate not only for the deliberate obscurity of her prediction but also for the moral blindness of Lady Macbeth and also for the blindness of Macbeth's victims. (3) The witches promote a universe in which fair is foul and foul is fair, in which battles are lost and won, in which men are both "Lesser ... and greater" and "Not so happy, yet much happiest" (1.3.63-64). The placement of the stick in such a carefully prepared visual context also relates to the violence of severing limbs and heads, and in a more extended way to the brutal assaults that make the frequent transitions from healthy body to mangled corpse so sudden and appalling. (4) In addition to the gnarled stick, one of the witches possesses a severed arm, its hand clutching a dagger, as well as a hangman's noose--prefigurements of murder and execution that are shortly to be enacted with gruesome and eye-offending specificity. (5) Polanski reiterates the theme of severance by showing Banquo's murderers chopping down trees to block the intended victim's escape and then axing Banquo from behind, by having Macbeth behead with a sword an armored figure (an apparition in the witches' cave), by letting us witness the cutting of branches in Birnam Wood to camouflage Malcolm's advance against the tyrant, and still again by having Seyton try to bar the exit at Dunsinane with a threatening axe when the castle is being deserted by most of its inhabitants. All these axe- and sword-wielders prepare us for the climax of Macbeth's decapitation, shown graphically with blood spurting from the trunk and the severed head falling a storey below, still crowned, open-eyed and uncannily semiconscious.

As Buchman notes, the visual clues to dividedness are nicely complemented by the device of voice-over, used repeatedly to convey shifts between dialogue and soliloquy, words for social or political consumption as distinct from utterances intended only for the secret self and representing meditation. The acute interior agonies of both Macbeth and his lady emerge dramatically through this restless back-and-forth. Sometimes the unutterably private thoughts are verbalized in a public or ceremonial setting, as, for example, at the banquet staged to entertain Duncan, in Shakespeare merely implied by a brief, wordless procession of "a Sewer, and divers Servants with dishes and service over the stage" ( Polanski breaks up the great soliloquy, "If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well / It were done quickly," into fragments as the protagonist moves from a public space to more private ones within the castle; but the speech begins strikingly as Macbeth sits at table in the place of honor directly next to the king whose assassination he weighs and contemplates, abstracted for the moment from his hostly duties. The festivity and ceremonial order of the occasion focus with powerful intensity the irony of outward joy juxtaposed to criminal anxiety, providing viewers with a visual correlative to one of the most critical passages of the tragedy--Macbeth's clearheaded analysis of treason and its hideous consequences which he will nevertheless permit his obsessive desire to override.

Polanski also relates the bifurcating stick, suggesting division and duality in a range of senses, to another central image of his film, namely the circle. One of the witches uses the stick to circumscribe such a figure in the sand by way of marking out a hole to be dug in which the mysterious human arm and noose are buried. The most obvious relevance of the circle to Macbeth is clearly its relation to the crown, which dominates the costuming in numerous scenes. Polanski makes its acutely aware of the disruptive and violent politics by which the crown passes from Duncan to Macbeth and then from Macbeth to Malcolm. Duncan wears it in battle when he transfers Cawdor's title to Macbeth, when he presides over the former's execution, and later when he designates Malcolm, Prince of Cumberland, as his successor. He wears it again at the banquet while his would-be assassins, Macbeth and his spouse, flank him on either side at table. The crown rests by his bed while he sleeps and is knocked to the floor, spiraling and clattering as it falls during the violent struggle with his murderer. Later after the royal corpse has been discovered, Lennox rescues the crown from its symbolically low position, and the next time we see it, it gleams from the head of Macbeth, who stands in bare feet and ceremonial white robes (ironically evoking purity?) on a promontory surveying his new realm. When he is officially proclaimed he stands crowned with scepter and sword on a large disc resembling a battle shield that his thanes raise to shoulder level surrounded by large druidic-looking stones and a wide circle of awestruck lookers-on. Macbeth wears the crown when he bids farewell to Banquo and orders him, "Fail not our feast" (3.1.29); he does so again when he commissions the murderers; and both he and the queen are crowned during the banquet at which Banquo's ghost returns.

At one point we see Macbeth, troubled by the fact that his crown is "fruitless" and his scepter "barren" (3.1.62-63), laying aside his diadem as he lies down to rest and, in an episode apparently suggested by Prince Hal's mistaken theft of the crown from the bedside of his dying father in 2 Henry IV, (6) dreaming that Fleance takes possession of the "golden round" (1.5.26) in fulfillment of the witches' prophecy that Banquo's heirs shall be kings. In the dream Macbeth reaches futilely for the crown that Fleance steals while Banquo smiles approvingly at his son's self-crowning; we see the boy in armor jumping on the bed ready to attack the sleeper, after which he replicates the action in Duncan's bedchamber by uncovering Macbeth's chest and placing the point of an arrow at his rival's throat. Banquo puts his hand over Macbeth's mouth to stifle his scream, and Macbeth wakes to find his wife's hand doing so to quench his nightmare. (7) Then when Macbeth revisits the witches, he sees a vision of Banquo crowned and enthroned as well as the image of Fleance with the crown reflected in a mirror. The crown is knocked from Macbeth's head during his combat with Macduff when again it rolls chaotically on the floor as before, only to be retrieved by its owner and worn until the climactic decapitation. Even then, as noted earlier, the crown remains on the severed head and must be removed by Ross, who triumphantly offers it to Malcolm. Then Malcolm crowns himself as Macbeth and Fleance (in the dream) had done before him. Polanski makes the gloomy political point that in the turbulent Scotland of his depiction, the crown can be transferred from one head to another only by self-assertion, violence, and the overcoming of fierce resistance. Even then, it can be dislodged or temporarily recovered in a realm marked by fear, confusion, ceaseless distrust, and instability.

As Samuel Crowl has perceptively noticed, another circular emblem of ambition for power is the chain of office with its round medallion that Duncan sends to Macbeth as a reward for bravery when he transfers Cawdor's title to him. (8) The film makes this piece of official jewelry a prominent motif by showing its scornful removal from Cawdor's neck on the point of Duncan's sword before the king sends it to Macbeth via Ross. Macbeth receives it with evident satisfaction, then wears it when he returns home where we see Lady Macbeth fondling it with delight as the mark of even greater power to come. He continues to wear it in nearly every scene until the crown supplants it as the ultimate proof of his having arrived at his goal. An echo of this symbolism comes later when, Lennox, defecting from Macbeth, tosses his own chain of rank to Seyton, Macbeth's manservant, from whom Ross instantly snatches it so that he can return it to his master, the king. As Macbeth toys with the chain for a few seconds, we are encouraged to think that he intends to bestow it upon the ambitious, up-and-coming Ross, only to discover that he decides, in a gesture of jaundiced flippancy, to put it instead around the neck of the fearful Seyton, his lower-placed personal lackey. Ambition and its rewards are seen to be little more than a cynical game. Chains also figure in the film in more sanguinary ways, most obviously in the capture and execution of Cawdor, who is held prisoner by four chains and then hanged by a chain, and by a bear that is teased by a crowd and baited by dogs while chained. The ghost of Banquo so unhinges Macbeth that he cowers on the floor at the pillar with its now loose chain where the bear had succumbed to its vicious attackers on "Hence horrible shadow" (3.4.106). As Crowl pointedly phrases it, "Polanski links power, rank, ambition, and appetite into a telling chain of destructive consequences" (26).

The circle metaphor applies more abstractly to the cyclical polity of a continuing struggle for power in a society in which one leader succeeds another by a combination of brutal force, guile, and luck. Macduff's pronouncement that "The time is free" (5.9.22), as the tyrant's bloody head is being mounted upon a towering pole, rings hollow inasmuch as Polanski leaves us with a final impression that the cycle of tyranny may be ready to commence again. In what probably ranks as the most contested innovation of the film, the final episode shows a solitary Donalbain riding to the witches' cavern, and, after leaving his mount, limping resolutely to a further consultation with the powers of darkness. (9) Presenting Duncan's second son as a cripple reminds us of another tyrant, Shakespeare's Richard III; and lest we miss the allusion, Polanski prepares for it by replicating Donalbain's physical disability in the person of Banquo's second murderer, who has already been presented as even more deformed--a thuggish hunchback who must hobble along on a crutch and whose violent end is apparently as sanguinary as Richard of Gloucester's (we see Ross snatching his crutch and using it to push him into a dungeon). In addition we have earlier observed Donalbain's frowning discontent when his brother was invested as crown prince. The cynical implications of the film's conclusion seem to have been influenced by Polanski's countryman, the Marxist critic Jan Kott, who interpreted the politics of Shakespeare's histories and tragedies as embodying a soulless mechanism of human oppression. And we must add to this explanation the horrors that the film's director had experienced firsthand--the impact of the Holocaust upon his family, a Poland ravaged first by the Nazis and later by the Soviets, and finally the recent slaughter of his wife at the hands of the demented Manson gang. (10)

Polanski reinforces his conception of power politics endlessly repeating itself by refusing to romanticize any of the characters and by deliberately muting contrasts between good and evil. The "gracious Duncan" (3.1.67) is a pragmatic monarch whose generosity to Macbeth seems more expedient than magnanimous. When he scornfully removes the medal of rank from Cawdor's wounded torso without dismounting, he shows no sign of grief at having been betrayed by a bosom friend; we feel no profound disappointment in his assertion that "There's no art / To find the mind's construction in the face," while the "absolute trust" (1.4.11-14) that he claims to have built upon the traitor comes across as a formulaic statement required by a situation hardly unusual or surprising. Before Cawdor hangs, chained by the neck to an iron collar and compelled to leap to his death from a castle platform, the screenplay interpolates his final words, "Long live the king." He repeats the standard phrase unrepentantly, bitterly, even sarcastically, complying with a ritual required of any condemned man on the scaffold. Malcolm delivers the praise of his dying, "Nothing in his life/Became him like the leaving it" (1.4.7-8), with no trace of sentiment. When Macbeth gifts a sycophantic underling with a new title, as he himself had been so gifted at an earlier point, the gesture implies a political likeness of the usurper to the usurped rather than the clear moral contrast that Shakespeare had taken such pains to establish. When we first see Malcolm, he is an awkward youth apparently fearful of his father; as he kneels before Duncan to have a ring from the king's own hand slipped upon his finger, his face sags in shyness or shame and must be lifted by the chin to look his elder in the face. But at the end when he himself becomes king, we see a grown-up mailed face, no longer the callow boy--a man who seems to have become as wary and as politically self-aware as the tyrant he has just replaced. Predictably, Polanski cuts his concluding speech, promising to rule "by the grace of Grace" (5.9.39).

Another suggestion of circularity emerges in the characterization of Ross, who is shown as a political timeserver, efficiently placing himself at the disposal of whichever king is in power, waiting for his turn to become himself a wielder of less limited control. In Shakespeare Ross serves as choric figure, a commentator on the action whom we can rely upon as a pointer to moral guidelines and a representative of communally shared feelings. Polanski recasts him as a politically engaged and self-interested politician, a climber. As Duncan's theoretically loyal subject, we see him delivering to Macbeth the circular emblem of his new rank. But after Macbeth has achieved the crown, he is equally dutiful to the tyrant, assisting in the ambush of Banquo as the third murderer and attempting unsuccessfully to kill Fleance, after which he supervises the terrible fate of his two fellow murderers. We observe him arranging for the slaughter of Macduff's family and smoothly, without the slightest hint of agitation or discomfort, feigning cousinly affection for the defenseless mother and child who will die shortly after he leaves them with kisses and an embrace. We see him calmly delivering a letter to Macbeth from a high-placed defector, apparently hoping to become his replacement. Only when Macbeth's power is about to topple, his reign obviously doomed, does he abscond to support Malcolm. Then we watch him as the bringer of tragic news to Macduff, performing his repellent task without the slightest hint of complicity or guilt. Finally he delivers the crown to Duncan's heir with the same smooth countenance he had shown at Fife when he was laying the groundwork for the destruction of Macduff's wife and children. John Stride plays the part as a careerist blandly accepting any means to a desired end, as a person who can roll with the tides and, in fact, must do so to survive in a cutthroat world.

One further evidence of the circular and repeating nature of Scottish politics as dramatized by Polanski is his emphasis on generational continuities and discontinuities. Father-son relationships are ever before us, a motif inherent in Shakespeare's text and made particularly poignant by Macbeth's childlessness and Lady Macduff's complaint that her son is "Fathered ... yet ... fatherless" (4.2.27). Pursuing these ideas further, Polanski presents the filial relation of Malcolm and Donalbain to Duncan as troubled, tense, and problematic; and he raises further doubt by suggesting the possibility of jealousy or competition between the two sons. In contrast Banquo and Fleance are seen to have a faithful and loving regard for each other (Banquo, while being murdered, is more urgently concerned for his son's survival than his own). But in taking the witches' prophecies more seriously than some directors, Polanski makes Fleance a more prominent figure politically, more of a present threat to Macbeth, than does Shakespeare. The film establishes the lad's presence early by having him sing for King Duncan in a boyish treble and by showing him with his father on several later occasions, as for instance where he helps to prepare their sleeping quarters when the script gives him nothing to say. As we have seen, he performs a menacing action in Macbeth's dream by taking the crown for himself, thus reaffirming in visual terms the apparent reality that Banquo, at least in Macbeth's psyche, is to become the progenitor of future Scottish kings. Neither Shakespeare nor Polanski explains the circumstances that will allow the crown to pass from Malcolm to Fleance, but the film, more concretely than the play, seems to assure us that such will eventually be the case. In Polanski's film, Macduff's important line, "He has no children" (4.3.218), spoken after the prince has counseled him to convert his grief to vengeance, refers to Malcolm rather than, as common in many productions, to Macbeth and so helps to call attention to the continuing doubtfulness of the royal succession should a childless king manage to displace a childless tyrant. And if Fate does not ultimately choose Fleance to unseat Malcolm, she may choose Donalbain instead. Polanski suggests that dynasties by their very nature are unstable, subject to sudden disruption, and that orderly transitions according to lineal descent cannot be counted upon. Macbeth's usurpation, the chief focus of the narrative as dramatized, may serve the audience as evidence of a systemic and perhaps incurable problem in the body politic.

In England we see the venerable Siward rehearsing his young son for battle against Macbeth by teaching him swordsmanship; then at Dusinane the tyrant succeeds in cutting Siward's throat with the dismissive comment, "Thou wast born of woman" (5.7.12). The young man is suddenly fatherless as Lady Macduff considers her son to be. Polanski's script invents a boy apprentice who in time will presumably replace the doctor who observes but cannot cure Lady Macbeth's guilt-wracked fantasies as she moves with open eyes in her sleep. Doctors and their surrogate sons, existing mainly outside the power relationships of kings and politicians, may seem to exemplify a certain security in the passage from one generation to the next. But we see the two nearly trampled at one point by the manic Macbeth, and even so unthreatening a person as the doctor can wish himself absent from the besieged castle: "Were I from Dunsinane away and clear, / Profit again should hardly draw me here" (5.3.62-63). The doctor's apprentice apparently survives with the others who pack up and empty the castle of everyone but a few frightened soldiers. But the innocent doctor's boy reminds us of Macduff's son, a lad of roughly the same age as himself whom we have seen Macbeth's storm troopers ruthlessly eliminate; and we recall that Fleance too was marked for an early death. In Polanski's version of Macbeth, the chances of boys growing up to succeed their fathers seem dubious indeed. And the repetition of such violent disruptions as well as the anticipation of others that remain possible but unresolved connect suggestively to the circle motif, made constantly visible in the crown and supported also by numerous physical details that reinforce the concept of roundness. The list includes the creaking wheels of the witches' cart, Cawdor's medallion, the iron collar that the traitor wears for execution, the circular clasps on the cloaks of Duncan and other nobles, the ring that the old king gives his heir, the pitcher in which Lady Macbeth mixes the possets, the empty cup with which Duncan's grooms are drugged, a bucket in which Macbeth draws well water, the shield-disc on which Macbeth stands to be proclaimed king, a basin for hand-and face-washing before dinner, the weird sisters' overturned cauldron, multiple goblets repeatedly used for royal toasts or for devilish pacts with murderers, the round or oval mirrors into which Macbeth gazes when he revisits the diabolic cavern, the ceremonial golden chalice dropped in terror on seeing Banquo's ghost (it appears to be the same as the one from which Macbeth drinks the witches' brew), the spinning head that Macbeth sees reflected in water as an omen of his death, round chandeliers and candle stanchions, and the military shields of Malcolm's combined forces. The accumulation of such dispersed images in the viewer's memory exemplifies a favorite technique of Polanski--an application of what Anthony Davies, citing Suzanne Langer, refers to as "cinema's omnivorous capacity 'to assimilate the most diverse materials and turn them into elements of its own.'" (11)

Polanski's considerable artistry as director appears in various imagistic motifs that lend his film coherence. Although he omits to show Lady Macbeth's controversial fainting after Macbeth's description of Duncan's corpse (12) and, with it, Banquo's telling comment on "our naked frailties" (2.3.119), the passage seems to have prompted him to display the unclothed human body with thematic repetitiveness. Vulnerability, of course, is an obvious point at issue of which we become immediately aware when Macbeth stands over the sleeping Duncan. In this scene the murderer pauses agonizingly to flip away with his dagger the coverlet that hides the king's naked chest. (13) The exposure, with its sexual overtones, gives obvious meaning to his earlier mention of Tarquin with whose "ravishing strides" (2.1.55) he has approached the royal chamber. And we have already witnessed Lady Macbeth's attempt to sexualize murder in her attempt to make regicide the proof of her husband's manhood. Her affinity with the diabolic comes out visually in the youngest of the weird sisters who at one point lifts her skirt to flaunt her genitals provocatively at the mesmerized Macbeth. Thus does the film symbolically ally murder with whoredom, an association of ideas to be reinforced later by the gang rape that accompanies the slaughter of Macduff's family. (14)

And when Macbeth decides to revisit the witches in his quest to know whether "the seeds of Banquo" (3.1.71) shall be kings, he discovers that the three weird sisters have expanded their number to a whole coven of naked females. Evil has clearly proliferated, has multiplied in a way that mocks his own apparent infertility. Additional murders rather than sons are to become the new offspring of his corrupted procreation, in confirmation of which we are treated to the sight of Lady Macduff bathing her naked son, whose innocence and vulnerability become the necessary conditions of his victimhood as a sacrifice to the tyrant's mounting panic. Here we may recall an earlier episode during which we see women washing the blood from Duncan's corpse in preparation for burial as well as the futile hand-washing to which both members of the murdering couple return. During the raid at Fife we catch a brief glimpse of a naked child's corpse covered in blood, the ghastly image having been prepared for by the apparition of a bloody infant being cut from its mother's belly in the witches' cavern to symbolize the unnatural birth of Macduff, "Untimely ripped" (5.8.16) from his mother's womb.

The most astonishing of Polanski's presentations of nakedness is the so-called sleepwalking scene, some of it showing Lady Macbeth in a sitting posture, during which her total bareness serves as the visual metaphor for her exposure of a tormented interior life. Her unintended confession of guilty secrets which, if she were awake and rational, she would dare not utter, comes across powerfully. And the close presence of the doctor and her waiting gentlewoman (the physician at one point passes his hands before her eyes to see if she will blink and takes quasiscientific notes on her condition) makes the intrusion on her privacy more invasive. Her nakedness has the effect of augmenting our sympathy while the beauty of the young actress's body (the role was played by Francesca Annis) is intended to contrast shockingly with the character's deformity of soul. Polanski evokes a sense of Macbeth's own vulnerability, both corporeal and psychological, by showing him in his night-dress with open chest immediately after Duncan's murder, with naked feet after he has assumed the Scottish crown, and finally in the dream sequence in which Fleance exposes his bare torso with an arrow. The theme of nakedness, as Polanski handles it, can point to both innocence and guilt. The pristine boy stripped of his clothes in the charming domestic scene at Fife is obviously meant to contrast with the naked lady in Macbeth's castle condemned forever to relive the trauma of having instigated the murder of her sovereign. Nakedness also enters the script in the apocalyptic words that make us aware of the cosmic consequences of regicide:
  And pity, like a naked newborn babe
  Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin horsed
  Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
  Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
  That tears shall drown the wind.

The image of naked forces from eternity impinging so terminally upon human activity expands the context of nakedness, innocent or guilty, to the level of metaphysical judgment. Polanski, however, although he retains the speech, seems to discount the likelihood of divine intervention.

The reading of letters becomes a unifying device in Polanski's film. Lady Macbeth receives her husband's account of meeting the weird sisters with combined fascination and delight, afterwards carefully sequestering the folded paper in a small private chest. During her mental breakdown at the end she rereads the letter to uncanny effect where it becomes the emblem of her terrible entrapment in crime; having originally been "transported" by the letter "beyond / This ignorant present" and felt "The future in the instant" (1.5.54-56), she has now been imprisoned forever by its content in an unalterable past that quenches all hope and reduces her to sobbing despair. Between these complementary episodes Polanski introduces additional letters--bad news from abroad that Macbeth's close adherents are leaving in droves and a letter from Lennox, who has just defected. We see Macbeth receiving them through a trusted intermediary, the stony-faced Ross, after which he tears one in pieces and, to the accompaniment of cynical laughter, commits the other, unread, to the fire. Although Macbeth reacts with hardened stoicism to the signs that fortune is deserting him, clinging as he does to the hope that no man born of woman can prevail, he ends by being trapped like his wife in a meaningless succession of tomorrows in which time itself dies--an idiot's tale made up of sound and fury.

Another masterful feature of the film is its varied use of animal images. Shakespeare's symbolic birds of death--ravens, owls, crows, rooks--are more heard than seen., too romantically gothic perhaps to be shown in a setting that dwells on the quotidian pleasures and brutalities of medieval domestic life. We hear seabirds shrieking at the outset and see a lone gull (or is it a scavenger?) traversing the darkened sky over the beach where Duncan's soldiers have succeeded in putting down traitors and foreign invaders. The combination of a seaside setting and the soundtrack chaos of mass slaughter that accompanies it relates effectively to Macbeth's crime, his hands so indelibly stained with blood as to "incarnadine" the "multitudinous seas," making "all great Neptune's ocean" red (2.2.63-65). In the scene in which Banquo is preparing to depart on his doomed ride, Polanski shows us a man behind him with a hawk on his wrist, and we see another dark bird far off against the sky, as Lady Macbeth intones, "The raven himself is hoarse / That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan / Under my battlements" (1.5.36-38). The bloody ghost of Banquo pursues the terrified Macbeth with a flapping hawk on one fist. We also notice a pair of falcons at Fife when the marauders invade. Life in an eleventh-century castle means sharing space with geese, ducks, chickens, pigs, dogs, and even bears. Roosters announcing the dawn can be seen as well as heard.

Polanski shows us live pigs and chickens being casually plucked from courtyards to be slaughtered for food and a chained bear in a cage to be worried to death by mastiffs for entertainment. The beheading of fowl and the cutting of pigs' throats, as implied by these actions, is of a piece with what happens to people in the film. Lady Macduff, teaching her young son what happens to traitors, mimes cutting her throat as a grim joke. There is a sense in which King Duncan whose carotid artery we see being pierced, Siward whose throat we observe being sliced, and Macbeth whose beheading we witness, not to mention the many other mutilated bodies that Polanski forces upon our consciousness, are depicted as but higher forms of animal species.

Polanski, the nihilistic realist, has little time for chivalry of the kind to be found in the novels of Sir Walter Scott. His combat scenes are chaotic and devoid of gentlemanly rules. When Macbeth faces multiple enemies at Dunsinane, we see wrestling, hacking, kicking, slicing, tripping, gouging, pushing, beating, throat cutting, running, and chasing. There is a point in the combat with Macduff when the latter is sprawled weaponless against some steps, thus allowing Macbeth to place his sword's point at Macduff's jugular. In the normal course of things Macbeth's slayer should quickly become just another piece of dead meat. But now, suicidally, Macbeth pauses: "my soul is too much charged / With blood of thine already" (5.8.5-6). Then Macduff knocks the final psychological prop from beneath his opponent: "Despair thy charm ... Macduff was from his mother's womb / Untimely ripped" (5.8.13-16). Hopelessness now strangely reinvigorates Macbeth who fights frantically on to his final breath. Impaled by Macduff's sword, he can nevertheless climb a flight of steps at the top of which he is beheaded. Thus does Polanski present his title character as a mysterious amalgam of suicidal despair and demonic energy. Critics, not without reason, have compared him to Milton's Satan. (15) The chained bear that we see prodded with a stick by a member of the crowd is later to become a bloody carcass (one of two) dragged away by servants in a scene that almost directly follows the cynical betrayal and implied execution of Banquo's murderers. The bear dragging also harks back to the episode of Duncan's murder in which we see the perpetrator drag one of the drugged grooms away from the door so that he can enter unimpeded. The near equation of men with animals by visual juxtaposition is implicit, so that we are well prepared for Macbeth's comparison of himself to a baited bear: "They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly, / But bear-like I must fight the course" (5.7. 1-2).

Dogs, too, prominently occupy many frames and are often heard barking to suggest alarm and chaos on the night of the murder. Lady Macbeth pets a pair of massive Irish wolfhounds as she reads her spouse's letter, and the same shaggy animals welcome their master home at Inverness. One of the dogs is seen again in the room where Banquo and others are bedded down. Duncan has a small white lapdog that he feeds at the banqueting table and that appears again on the funeral carriage that transports his body from Macbeth's castle. In this film dogs are generally more loyal than thanes. We see other dogs used for bearbaiting. The household pets furnish an element of visual realism to several important speeches. Macbeth, for instance, responds in frustration to the doctor who cannot "Cleanse" his wife's "bosom of that perilous stuff / Which weighs upon the heart" since in such cases "the patient / Must minister to himself": "Throw physic to the dogs, none of it" (5.3.45-48). And when he is setting up Banquo's murder, he compares his instruments to canines:
  Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men,
  As hounds, and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
  Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept
  All by the name of dogs.

Macduff accosts Macbeth as a "hell-hound" (5.8.3) before the final combat.

Details of setting, topography, architecture, and weather also support Polanski's aggressively visual adaptation of Shakespeare's original. Fog, the visual equivalent of ambiguity and mystery, issues from the entrance to the witches' lair; it returns to suggest early morning as it clears to reveal the massiveness and apparent impregnability of Dunsinane. Inverness, reminiscent of Mont St. Michel, rises suddenly before us, perched upon a pinnacle-like mountaintop that contrasts spectacularly with the relatively flat surrounding country. The very geography suggests ambition. Duncan's ironic reaction as he approaches the venue of his death, "This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air / Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself / Unto our gentle senses" (1.6.1-3), is subtly undercut by dark clouds that portend rain. Significantly Polanski omits all suggestions of fertility; we hear nothing of the "temple-haunting martlet" with its "pendent bed and procreant cradle" (1.6.4-8). No sooner have Duncan and his train entered the castle than we experience thunder and a sudden downpour that dampens spirits figuratively and literally. As rain drips, we see Macbeth intently observing the commotion surrounding Duncan's arrival from a hidden position above, his apartness from society suggesting the dark inner world of his criminal speculation. It is still raining when he is thinking about the consequences of his crime, "He's here in double trust ..." (1.7.12), and when he temporarily seems to change course: "We will proceed no further in this business" (1.7.31).

A similar sequence occurs when Macbeth, with murder in his heart, observes Banquo and Fleance from an upper window riding off to their supposed deaths against a darkening sky. Later we see the sun setting through the same window on "Come seeling night, / Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day ... (3.2.46-47), a reversal of the dawn with which the film opened and a preparation for the rising sun which we will see again as Birnam Wood slowly makes its way to Dunsinane. When plans for assaulting Macduff's family are germinating in Macbeth's mind, we see him in bed with his wife, the whole room reddened by sunset to the accompaniment of "I am in blood/Stepped in so far that should I wade no more, /Returning were as tedious as go o'er" (3.4.136-38).

Shakespeare of course associates rain, wind, and thunderstorms with human violence. Polanski reifies these associations in highly sensory ways. On the night of the regicide he shows us a window curtain blown fiercely awry, candles being extinguished by the wind, and shutters in the murder chamber being closed to protect its doomed occupant from the impending storm; he gives us a long shot of the castle illuminated by cataclysmic flashes of lightning. We also see horses breaking out of their stalls in driving rain as Shakespeare's Ross reports (2.4.16), although the prodigy of their having cannibalized each other as in the original lies well beyond the scope of Polanski's insistent realism. Later when Banquo rides unwittingly toward his assassination, he predicts forebodingly, "It will be rain tonight" to which the first murderer responds, completing the same pentameter line, "Let it come down" (3.3.18), which is the point at which the savage attack begins. Although no rain actually falls in the ambush scene, we become aware of a rain-washed stream into which the axe-imbedded corpse is kicked.

Polanski uses the same castle set with modifications in the case of certain courtyard scenes for both Inverness and Dunsinane, a prominent feature of which is a flight of open stairs against the courtyard facade that leads to Duncan's chamber in the early sequences and serves later as the site of Macbeth's decapitation. That the same stairs should be so closely associated with two violent deaths assists the political pessimism of the film--the notion that kings come and go and that finally one reign ends much like another. Use of the stairs marks significant moments during the criminal careers of the dual protagonists. We see Lady Macbeth ascending the steps with the letter, nursing her ambitions and musing on fears that her husband "is too full o'th'milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way" (1.5.15-16), then rushing down them again to greet him effusively when he returns, freshly rewarded, from the king. Macbeth follows Banquo up the same staircase to bid him good night; Banquo pauses halfway in his ascent for what looks like casual conversation with his host about the reliability of the witches' prophecies but is really an ironic adumbration of Macbeth's later design to stop him forever. A little later we see Macbeth approach Duncan's chamber hesitantly, with fear, noticing a dagger stuck in the railing when he reaches the top step where he delivers the famous speech during which the "fatal vision" (2.1.36) seems to beckon him towards the royal bed. After he has finished Duncan off, he descends again very slowly to announce to his wife, "I have done the deed" (2.2.14). Lady Macbeth descends the same stairs as she returns from her errand of incriminating the grooms. As dawn breaks Macbeth leads Lennox and Mac-duff up the same steps, secretly knowing (with the audience's collusion) the horror they will discover. He mounts a different staircase again as he prepares to meet with Banquo's murderers on "To be thus is nothing, / But to be safely thus" (3.1.49-50) and slowly descends the more familiar steps to view his wife's corpse on "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow ..." (5.5.18).

At these emotional moments Polanski makes use of ascent and descent to italicize ambition or crime and their dispiriting aftermaths, in addition marking the oscillations of excitement and depression, of suspense and surprise, that are the essence of effective drama. At the end when Macbeth struggles painfully up the stairs to die and we see his crowned head plummet into the courtyard, the film makes visceral and unforgettable the oft-repeated lesson of de casibus tragedy that getting to the top is more laborious and lengthy than the instantaneous downfall which must inevitably follow.

Given Polanski's focus on the irreparably soiled, even begrimed, nature of medieval politics, we can scarcely be surprised by his portrayal of Banquo and Macbeth as wary rivals rather than heartfelt friends and "noble partner[s]" (1.3.52) as the original text suggests. In Shakespeare's version Banquo quickly notices his companion's nervous apprehension in response to the witches' prediction that he will "be king hereafter": "Good sir, why do you start and seem to fear / Things that do sound so fair?" (1.3.48-50). Polanski drops these lines, deliberately blurring Shakespeare's implied contrast between innocence and guilt, apparently in the belief that innocence is too much to expect of any politician. Throughout the early scenes of the film Banquo and Macbeth regard each other in a politely distanced and formal manner, never giving evidence that there was ever much camaraderie between them. As with the murder of Duncan, such an attitude makes the betrayal of Banquo more expedient than personal and more shallow emotionally. Malcolm telegraphs an early hostility to Macbeth by haughtily insisting that his cup be filled with wine before drinking an ironic toast to the new Thane of Cawdor, who reacts with obvious discomfort to the insult. Polanski also simplifies the relationship between Macduff and Malcolm, presenting the two as merely sharing a common interest in Macbeth's overthrow. Malcolm's elaborate testing of Macduff through self-accusation (as Shakespeare has it) is excised as too elaborately artificial and naive to carry conviction; and in the film Malcolm emerges from the much briefer exchange less as the lawful heir of a sacred king than as the best available candidate to replace a madman.

Polanski also introduces a fresh perspective on the protagonists by characterizing the marriage of the murdering couple as sexually intimate, physically attractive, and mutually self-congratulatory. The two look like young newlyweds. They enjoy their recent social elevation as would be the case in the bourgeois suburbs of a capitalist executive on the rise. Jon Finch and Francesca Annis in the leading roles are blandly good-looking, even glamorous, but as yet unpracticed in deception. Their plan to murder Duncan is presented at the beginning almost as a dangerous aphrodisiac that will add spice to their accustomed pleasure. Annis plays the female temptress as more seductive, more ingratiating, and softly wheedling than formidably heartless. She dearts as far as may be from the mannish disciplinarian made stereotypical through performances such as that of Judith Anderson who dominated an essentially weak Macbeth by "chastis[ing him] with the valour of [her] tongue" (1.5.25). (16) When Annis scolds her more morally acute husband for irresolution or fearfulness, she does so with quiet urgency, not as a shrew, showing more disappointment than anger. She seems almost childish in her confidence that "A little water clears us of this deed" (2.2.70), although we also see her as a polished and charming hypocrite when she dances with the king after supper. At one point Polanski conveys her want of sleep by showing her motionless over her sewing, having apparently dozed off after protracted insomnia (for a moment we wonder whether she has had a sudden heart attack); and when Macbeth wakes her, we see dark blood surrealistically welling from her palms--dreadful evidence of what she has been dreaming. Her descent into catatonic fantasy, made more pathetic than usual by her physical nakedness, conveys with heightened sensitivity the image of a young life destroyed almost before it has been fully launched.

In her madness Lady Macbeth seems well on the way to suicide, her jaded society facade having totally crumbled. She apparently leaps to her death into the courtyard from an upper level of the castle. Polanski hides her fall, giving us only the sight of her disheveled body surrounded by women that Macbeth, now too deadened to care, stares at impassively before retreating mechanically to face assailants. Later we see the corpse, fouled by dirty splashes, with a coarse blanket flung over it. It is still in place when Macduff enters the deserted castle, stoops briefly to identify it, and then moves quickly on in the same disengaged manner seen earlier in the scene in which his enemy had walked away. That Macduff and Macbeth both regard the queen's body with the same apparent indifference suggests at some subterranean level a mysterious likeness of the two moral opposites, who must both share the same painful, cruel, and disorderly universe.

Macbeth's parallel but equally isolated decline into madness and death is bloodier and more paranoid than his wife's but, in Polanski's treatment, is shown to evince the same pell-mell rush to self-destruction for which even less sympathy can be evoked. Jon Finch, to quote Crowl once more, "literally turns Macbeth into a machine of death" with "deadened look" and "trance-like expression" (30) appropriate to Kott's conception of a man who has nothing left but "contempt": "All he can do before he dies is to drag with him into nothingness as many living beings as possible." (17) Macbeth has killed his humanity long before his head rolls.


Although, as I have tried to show, Polanski succeeded in adapting one of Shakespeare's greatest plays with verve, imagination, and even subtlety for a broad spectrum of twentieth-century audiences, the film's excellences are nevertheless grounded in an interpretation of the action that greatly diminishes its depth, range, and tragic effect. Much of this larger failure consists in the director's having totally abandoned the Christian cultural values and Jacobean worldview that would have been assumed by the audiences for which the playwright wrote. Apart from the witches, whose fateful power in the film seems to go unchallenged, (18) Polanski almost totally dismantles the supernatural superstructure based upon which the murder of a king for Shakespeare and his age was believed to be the most heinous of assaults. Let us consider the nature of this impoverishment by examining a few of Shakespeare's foundational themes and symbols in the play as it descends to us in the text as edited from the First Folio.

Macbeth, in Shakespeare's conception, is among other things a tragedy about kingship. The dramatist sets the singular career of his depraved usurper between two kings, Duncan and Malcolm, who are meant by contrast to exemplify the ideal of virtuous Christian rule (partly of course to flatter his patron, James I). Departing from Holinshed in which Duncan is portrayed as possessing a doubtful claim to the throne and in which Macbeth has a legitimate grievance against him, Shakespeare conceives of the royal victim in Jacobean terms as a monarch by divine right. Duncan weeps for joy (1.4.33-35) to be blessed with loyal subjects such as Macbethand Banquo and speaks of the "sin of [his] ingratitude" (1.4.15) in failing to reward them more richly, thus demonstrating the kingly trait of magnanimity. Duncan is "meek," a virtue reminding us of the Sermon on the Mount, and "clear in his great office" (1.7.17-18), which is to say, innocent of wrongdoing. Moreover, Macbeth is fully aware that the "deep damnation of his taking-off" (1.7.20) will trigger a violently negative response in heaven. I have already quoted the apocalyptic lines on the cherubim raising a storm in the world beyond more powerful than any disturbance known on earth. (19) The would-be assassin analyzes his proposed betrayal in Dantean terms, spelling out the quadruple nature of the taboo he is about to violate--murder of a kinsman (which is unnatural), murder of a sovereign (which is treason), murder of a guest (which offends the ancient and noble duty of hospitality), and murder of an anointed deputy of God (which is blasphemy). If Dante had included Macbeth in his Inferno, he would have placed him in the ninth circle with those guilty of compound fraud--upside down in ice, keeping company with Brutus, Cassius, and Judas Iscariot. Macbeth realizes he has cut himself off from God's mercy when he hears the grooms saying their prayers before sleep and cannot repeat "Amen" in response to their "God bless us" (2.2.29-31). The "Amen" apparently "Stuck in [Polanski's] throat" (2.2.36) as well as Macbeth's because his screenplay carefully prunes away the references to prayer as well as most of the religious allegory contained in the Porter's scene. Polanski also removes Shakespeare's word "sacrilegious" in Macduff's allusion to sacramental kingship: "Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope / The Lord's anointed temple and stole thence / The life o'th building" (2.3.60-62).

In addition Polanski's script mutes Shakespeare's metaphysically startling image of the king's dead body, described in terms of the opulently gilded iconography of martyrology: "Here lay Duncan, / His silver skin laced with his golden blood / And his gashed stabs looked like a breach in nature, / For ruin's wasteful entrance" (2.3.104-7). In the film these lines are reduced to the much plainer and less religious "Here lay Duncan, his skin laced with his golden blood." Shakespeare clearly makes much of kingly sanctity in a way foreign to Polanski's resolutely secular modernity. As already suggested, the filmmaker presents Macbeth's coronation in pagan terms, eliminating the medieval tradition of anointing and other sacramental rites. No churches, altars, bishops, or priests appear anywhere in the background details of the film; no one ever makes the sign of the cross; and the film's one apparent visual reference to the Eucharist is the blasphemous scene in which Macbeth drinks the revolting witches' brew, cooled with "baboon's blood" (4.1.36), with its overtones of a black Mass. Metaphysics may touch Polanski's bleak conception in his portrayal of women who successfully invoke evil from an otherworldly source. But all sense of a countervailing spirituality oriented to the traditions of Christianity he systematically excises. (20)

In Shakespeare's pattern Duncan's sanctity also seems to extend to Malcolm although less is made of it dramatically because, unlike his father, he does not suffer martyrdom. In the scene in England, however, in which Malcolm ostentatiously disavows his possession of the "king-becoming graces-- / As justice, verity, temp'rance, stableness, / Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness, / Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude" (4.3.91-94), his denial of virtue turns out to be an inverse means of establishing it, for he later "Unspeak[s his] own detraction" and "abjure[s] / The taints and blames [he] laid upon [him]self" (4.3.123-24). Newly crowned at the end of the play as his father's designated heir, he shows royal magnanimity in rewarding his "thanes and kinsmen" (5.9.29) with earldoms as Duncan had bestowed new titles upon Macbeth and himself. And he looks forward to a reign of duty under divine guidance "by the grace of Grace" (5.9.39). Needless to say, Polanski cuts Malcolm's concluding speech. Instead of Shakespeare's restoration of order after a long nightmare of chaos, he subtitutes the prospect of continuing chaos. In Shakespeare usurpation and murder are presented as shockingly exceptional and therefore the proper subject for high tragedy in a civilization that is fundamentally humanistic and religious. In Polanski Macbeth becomes only the most sensational example of an evil that is endemic to dynastic politics, a politician notable chiefly for the extraordinary lengths to which his aspiration for power takes him. As Crowl points out, Polanski characterizes Ross as "a potential Macbeth" (29).

Kingship in Macbeth is portrayed not only as a divine institution (like priesthood) but also as a vital link in the great chain of mutual obligation that joins heaven to earth. Shakespeare places monarchy in the larger context of salvation history, which forces us to see the tragedy of a regicide against the backdrop of eternity. Lest we miss this connection, the dramatist makes it explicit in the references to Edward the Confessor, a king who volunteers his soldiers for the duty of expunging an illegitimate tyrant and whose sainted remains are buried in Westminster Abbey where they were venerated as a shrine by some in Shakespeare's age. According to legend King Edward possessed the miraculous gift of healing through the royal touch, curing subjects of scrofula, the so-called King's Evil, by "Hanging a golden stamp about their necks / Put on with holy prayers," which "healing benediction" he transmitted to "succeeding royalty" including the monarchs under whose authority Shakespeare lived. (21) In addition, King Edward had "a heavenly gift of prophecy" (4.3.155-59), a means of divining human futures in a manner directly counter to the diabolical equivocations and "supernatural soliciting" (1.3.129) of the weird sisters. Thus does Shakespeare convey the moral absolutes of the play through a contrast of "Devilish Macbeth" (4.3.117) with Duncan, "a most sainted king" (4.3.109), with Malcolm who will rule by divine "Grace," and with King Edward, the canonized saint, "whose sundry blessings hang about his throne / That speak him full of grace" (4.3.160-61). Polanski eliminates this emphasis entirely, substituting for Shakespeare's long scene in England a short exchange between Malcolm and Macduff on the road to Macbeth's Scottish redoubt.

Closely related to the kingship theme in Shakespeare's play are the complex symbolism and imagery of blood. Notoriously, Polanski's film makes much of physical bloodshed, forcing violence or the evidence of it upon us from first to last. But the theme of blood in Shakespeare is always richly various and contains a wide range of associations both negative and positive--among others, relating to courage, procreation, inheritance, health (as one of the four humours), Golgotha, and the Eucharist. The bloody captain who appears at the beginning to establish our first impression of Macbeth as "Valour's minion" (1.2.19), the extraordinary soldier who has defeated the rebellious Macdonwald, initiates the theme of bloodshed in a complex way since the blood-covered speaker invites us to imagine even greater violence off stage. An obviously brave man narrates acts of someone even braver. Moreover the putting down of treason for Shakespeare's audience would be received with undiluted approbation. Nevertheless, Macbeth's "bloody execution," his "unseam[ing the enemy] from the nave to th'chaps," and his "fix[ing the] head upon our battlements" (1.2.18-23) also suggest what Shakespeare's contemporaries could witness regularly when condemned traitors were publicly hanged, drawn, and quartered. And of course the detail of Macdonwald's severed head eerily foreshadows Macbeth's own fate at the end of the play. The narrated violence for Jacobeans would probably have the effect of signifying both condign punishment and the horror of criminality, thus producing a complex, double, or even contradictory reaction in audiences. In Polanski's movie the negative meanings are unmistakable. The Captain's bloody face, for the film director, will become an early version of Banquo's "gory locks" (3.4.50), and he will make much of Macbeth's head on a pole. But courage of the kind we can admire finds little place in the screen version.

After murdering Duncan in cold blood, the protagonist effectuates his subsequent killings by stealth and remote control, and in Polanski's treatment, paranoia and fear are more prominent in Finch's portrayal than physical daring. At the end Macbeth fights off assailants with fanatical energy but more as a deadly mechanism than as a man with any dignity to preserve. We wonder whether Macbeth in defeating Macdonwald had really been very different from the automaton we see now, whereas it seems to have been Shakespeare's chief purpose to show a truly valiant and noble soldier corrupted and lost by allowing evil to invade his soul. Also in the film, apart from Siward and Macduff, we see little actual courage in Malcolm's forces. While Macbeth takes on several individual opponents one by one, the intruding soldiers

In Renaissance society, blood was typically believed to be the carrier not merely of physical lineaments but also of character, a kind of ethical and temperamental DNA transmissible by inheritance and consolidated by family connection. Thus aristocratic rank was theoretically the mark of moral, intellectual, and emotional superiority as well as of social privilege. Inheritance was typically the guarantee of a child's future as well as of the father's security about the continuance of his family and status. We hear the title character declare, "By Finel's death, I know that I am Thane of Glamis" (1.3.69). And, pretending to be shocked by Duncan's murder, Macbeth can report to Donalbain, "The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood / Is stopped" (2.3.91-92). Shakespeare presents aristocrats such as Banquo, Lennox, Angus, Ross, Menteith, and Caithness as men who by virtue of their lineage are worthy to surround and serve a king and from whom loyalty to their sovereign is not only expected because of formal duty but also because it inheres in their bloodstream. It is this concept that makes Cawdor's treason and Macbeth's regicide so spectacularly unnatural--radical breaches of natural law as reflected in horses turning carnivore or falcons becoming prey to mousing owls (2.4.12-18). Polanski deliberately subverts this antique understanding of rank, replacing it, as we have seen, with a modern competitive, dog-eat-dog idea of political advancement that has a leveling effect on moral and class distinctions. In Polanski's film thanes owe their allegiance to kings, not by feudal obligation and religiously sworn oaths, but because of fear or because they hunger for a higher place on the ladder of power and prestige. And as we have observed in the father-son relationships of the film, a general pessimism wins at the odds. By actually showing us the bloody image of an infant being physically "ripped" from a slicedopen womb, Polanski plants the suggestion that Macduff's career may ultimately become as violent and unnatural as the tyrant he defeats. Again Polanski fuzzes Shakespeare's clear contrast between villain and hero.

In Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth's barrenness is the sign of her having become the mother, or at least the wife, of sin and death. Polanski cuts her extraordinary bravado in claiming that she would dash out the brains of her nursing baby rather than renege on her promise to proceed with homicide (1.7.56-59), (22) but he does include her prayer to be made infertile as evidenced through a stoppage in menstruation: "make thick my blood, / Stop up th'access and passage to remorse / That no compunctious visitings of nature / Shake my fell purpose" (1.5.41-44). (23) Shakespeare stresses the unnaturalness of the couple's absence of children, their inability to perpetuate their bloodline, not only as a sign of their spiritual deadness, but also as a contrast to men like Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff who have fathered sons--the desire of any nobleman as a means of defeating time through self-perpetuation. stand around in fear, apparently loath to risk their lives by engaging with a madman. The theme is familiar to us from the young man of Shakespeare's early sonnets that urge the handsome recipient to beget copy. Macbeth's comment on his wife's readiness to risk all, "Bring forth men-children only, / For thy undaunted mettle should compose / Nothing but males" (1.7.72-74), is searingly ironic as advice to a woman who has prayed to be denatured, to have her breast milk turned to gall, and who may be physically incapable of child-bearing.

Blood clearly had devotional significance for Renaissance Christians. Shakespeare plays on this connection in comparing a savage battle (the one in which Macbeth and Banquo defeated the "skipping kerns," and "doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe") to "Golgotha" (1.2.30-40). Shakespeare invites us to imagine a scene of wholesale death, not only as devastatingly bloody but also, hyperbolically (because of its cruelty), as memorializing the Crucifixion, the means by which Christ atoned at Calvary for the sins of the whole world. The image also contains a buried allusion to the Eucharist, the sacramental and liturgical extension of the sacrifice on Calvary into the lives of present-day worshippers through the blood (or wine) of Holy Communion. Shakespeare later takes up the connection between blood and wine in Macbeth's image of an "even-handed justice" that "Commends th'ingredience of our poisoned chalice / To our own lips" (1.7.10-12) and in his innocent-sounding "official" reaction to Duncan's murder--"The wine of life is drawn ..." (2.3.88). Later he speaks of having "Put rancours in the vessel of [his] peace" (a backward reference to the poisoned chalice) and of having given to Satan, "the common enemy of man," his "eternal jewel," his soul (3.1.68-70).

Although, unsurprisingly, Polanski suppresses both the Golgotha and chalice passages in his film, he makes the association of blood with wine concrete in a wholly secular way by showing us on screen the spilled cup with which the grooms were drugged and pools of dark red fluid on the floor. This image occurs just before Macbeth enters Duncan's bedchamber to commit the murder and after which Lady Macbeth faints when she sees the massacred grooms who, a few minutes earlier, have awakened in puzzlement to discover that their bodies and daggers are smeared with blood. It is while they are trying to comprehend this waking nightmare that Macbeth slaughters them both with an enormous blade. The poisoned chalice lines, which Polanski so assiduously avoids in his screenplay, seem nevertheless to have served him as inspiration for the dreadful action, interpolated into the scene of Macbeth's second visit to the witches, during which we see him thirstily quaffing the ghastly "baboon's blood" mixed with other demonic ingredients from the cauldron. It is typical of Polanski's approach that he should parody the Eucharist as evidence of Macbeth's drinking down his own damnation while nevertheless disallowing any awareness of a society that might put its faith in the salvific power of the Blessed Sacrament. Polanski would apparently have us accept Hell as a reality but not Heaven. (24) At all events, his blood symbolism, at least from a Shakespearean perspective, is reductive. The sheer quantity of bloodshed shown is intended to magnify the shocking criminality, not only of individuals, but of a society at large. Politically speaking, it becomes the currency by which politicians, often unsuccessfully, seek to purchase their advancement.

Shakespeare's concept of nature in Macbeth is highly traditional. Rooted in hierarchy and degree, it is conceived as a system of harmonious obligations, held together by divine love, but disintegrating into chaos when the chain of ordained authority is fractured. The Ross of the original play underlines this concept when he notes that the murder of a king turns topsy-turvy even the relationship between light and dark: "By th'clock 'tis day / And yet the dark night strangles the travelling lamp" (2.4.6-7); he amplifies the same notion with the report that Duncan's horses have got loose, have "Turned wild in nature ... Contending 'gainst obedience as they would / Make war with mankind" (2.4.16-18). The source of the chaos is Duncan's wounded body, "his gashed stabs ... like a breach in nature" (2.3.106), or, more precisely, the monstrous causer of such a breach. Natural law of the kind excogitated in Hooker's famous Laws of the Ecclesiastical Polity (1593-97) tends to be reflected in the green world of Shakespeare's comedies, as in As You Like It where it is merged with traditions of pastoralism. In tragedies such as Macbeth, allusions to natural order are usually sparser and the concept must sometimes be inferred from its absence, negation, or perversion.

We sense the fallenness of nature in Lady Macbeth's counsel to her husband: "look like th'innocent flower, / But be the serpent under't" (1.5.63-64)--its lifelessness in Macbeth's dagger speech since it is nighttime and "o'er the one half-world / Nature seems dead (2.1.49-50). The disgusting ingredients of the cauldron show that the witches pervert the creatures and processes of nature for evil ends. They violate the sacredly ordained integrity of nature by uprooting and remixing it for macabre purposes. What little sense of freshness, greenness, and fertility the play affords in an otherwise stiflingly claustrophobic atmosphere emerges in Banquo's ironic description of Inverness as a place where "heaven's breath / Smells wooingly" (1.6.5-6) (25) and also perhaps in the march of Birnam Wood to Dunsinane, which some have regarded as the symbolic re-greening of Scotland.

Polanski, who rejects as sentimental fantasy the Renaissance concept of human politics as an imperfect mirror of heavenly authority, shows us violent human disorder against a physical nature that is orderly in only basic ways such as the regularity of sunrise and sunset and the necessity to eat and urinate. (26) There is very little greenery. We get a touch of it at Fife, where he allows us to glimpse a duck pond bordered by green leaves; and when Ross departs from the castle, having made sure that its entrance remains open for the impending attack of Macbeth's murderous thugs, the landscape seems greener than elsewhere in the film. But the greenery in this sequence is only present to highlight by contrast the destructive horror of the bloodshed. The same principle seems to apply to the pine branches cut down to disguise Malcolm's advance on Dunsinane. In any case, viewed through Polanski's lens, they look only minimally verdant. The film's landscapes (much of the filming was done in Wales) are generally brownish, tinged here and there with green, coordinating perhaps with the idea of Macbeth's falling into "the sere, the yellow leaf" (5.3.23). We do see the close-up of a trumpeter's brilliant green-and-blue flag filling most of the screen as the supposedly cleansing army nears its destination, meant apparently as a sign of regeneration; but what follows is perhaps the most graphic carnage of the entire film, climaxed by the long tracking shot that shows us how Macbeth's bloody head, stuck upon a long pole, makes its way through crowds from the stones of the courtyard to a position higher than the visible rooftops and surmounting all human survivors. The visual coding for this last of many ascents suggests somehow that death has triumphed over life. If we recall Duncan's first words to Macbeth, "I have begun to plant thee and will labour / To make thee full of growing' (1.4.28-29), perhaps an echo of Jeremiah 12:2, (27) the irony becomes paramount.


Traditionalists and Renaissance-oriented Shakespeareans have rarely doubted that in Macbeth Shakespeare intended to dramatize the career of an extraordinarily wicked but innately virtuous man who, in violently usurping the throne from a legitimate and "gracious" king (the adjective is Macbeth's own as well as Lennox's; 3.1.67, 3.6.3, 10), brought tyranny to a country that had been wholesomely governed before him and would presumably be so governed after his removal. Although we can never know precisely how Shakespeare's play was received in the first decade of the seventeenth century, we can reasonably assume that the reign of Macbeth as dramatized in the reign of Banquo's successor, James I, would have been regarded as a parenthesis of horror and chaos on either side of which acceptable standards of social morality and civilized government were assumed to be the norm. This is the way the play has been interpreted by readers and theatergoers for most of its long history. (28) Maynard Mack Jr. can be taken to speak for generations of critics in averring that "Macbeth ends with a restoration of order that is unmatched in fullness and dramatic weight in the other tragedies" howbeit with a "somber mood" at the end. "The king can be killed, but the whole world, human, natural, and supernatural reacts to offer a new king. Regicide is finally in some strange way impossible. ..." Mack goes on to suggest that at a more profound level of response, "what we have been shown is the destruction of a soul, whose intuitions of a life beyond life are his glory and become his ruin. ..." (29) Alfred Harbage, seconding Coleridge, speaks of the moral lucidity of Shakespeare's play: it "is the shortest of [the dramatist's] tragedies and the simplest in its statement: Thou shalt not kill. ... With eyes wide open to the hideousness of his offense, a brave, imaginative, and morally sensitive man commits a stealthy murder for gain. ... The retribution is as appalling as the crime--his soul's slow death in self-horror, degradation, loneliness, and despair, then his bloody extermination." Harbage continues, "The core of Macbeth is a religious mystery, its moral clarity a testament of faith. Evil may be recognized, loathed, and combated without being understood. ..." Most of us probably agree that the enormous power of the play, as in the majority of great tragedies, resides in its capacity to raise unanswerable questions, the most fundamental of which Harbage formulates for us: "Why should such a man do such evil?" And further, "Why is there evil for men to do?" (30) Harbage's point is that Shakespeare's masterpiece confirms without offering solutions our recognition of how deeply the struggle of good with evil in a fallen world, what Keats called "the fierce dispute betwixt damnation and impassioned clay," continues to move us.

Polanski's film adaptation, however skillfully integrated and artistically intelligent in its own terms, evades such questions altogether, and by deliberately blotting out the firm boundaries of Shakespeare's moral and religious universe with something like the thoroughness with which Macbeth tries to eliminate enemies, reduces high personal tragedy to the level of political fatalism grounded in a cynical contempt for human aspiration. Deanne Williams has astutely noticed the physical likeness of Jon Finch to Mick Jagger, using the association to reflect on Polanski's film as a transmutation of Shakespeare for the "sixties youth culture" with its "sense of naivety, even superficiality, as opposed to corruption or even self-awareness." (31) Pauline Kael also convicts the film of shallowness: "The murder of King Duncan does not change Macbeth or awaken anything in him." The movie "plays well," succeeding "as vivid melodrama," but "Polanski converts what in Shakespeare was pathology into the normal state of affairs," thereby stripping the drama of its mystery, exaltation, and evil grandeur because "there is nothing to balance" the atrocities against. "The effect is to cancel any depth or importance, and to send you out with nothing--no hope of peace, no belief that there could be even a period of order and justice." (32)

Filmmakers, of course, have every right to create new works of art based upon classic works from earlier centuries without attempting to reproduce what they might imagine to have been the culture of the originator. Polanski's distortion of Macbeth is probably no more egregious in degree than was Davenant's 1664 production that approached vaudeville in its conversion of the witches into comical dancers with the aid of machines to exhibit them flying through the air. In any case it is a cliche of academic criticism that film cannot, and should not, be expected to produce the equivalent of a live stage performance. Also, Daniel Seltzer in a carefully considered essay has warned us against assuming that there is any such thing as "do[ing] Shakespeare straight." Seltzer quotes Peter Brook's mordant description of Shakespearean academics at the theater who attend performances to confirm their pet theories and who "confuse ... intellectual satisfaction with the true experience for which [they] crave," thus lending "the weight of [their] authority to dullness." (33) I would argue nevertheless that of all the distortions of which filmmakers and postmodernist directors are capable, tendentious attempts to alter or efface Shakespeare's broadly encompassing and deeply sympathetic humanism are the least pardonable. Polanski's film announces proudly in antique lettering that his Macbeth is a Playboy Production of "The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare." What then follows on the screen is for the most part a performance of Shakespeare's words, however abbreviated, without, in the main, a dramatic embodiment of his core attitudes. As Harbage remarked on the occasion of the dramatist's quadricentenary,
  The twentieth [and we might add the twenty-first] century
  has witnessed a revolution in sentiment, and to an undetermined
  degree in private morality, so that an estrangement from Shakespeare
  exists in some areas not unlike that which existed among the
  literati of the Restoration. There is more than a little hostility
  in the air toward Shakespeare's moral and political assumptions on
  the one hand and to his generous view of human nature on the other--a
  reaction against both his kind of conservatism and his kind of
  liberalism. (34)

Of the truth of this statement Polanski's film would seem to constitute a prime example.


(1.) In the scene of Banquo's murder, for instance, Shakespeare must convey the necessary darkness in which the action takes place on a daylight stage by introducing references to torches, e.g., "Give us a light there, ho!' (3.3.9). Horses must be mentioned or implied through costuming (boots, riding crops, etc.) rather than shown (3.3.8, 11). In contrast Polanski makes scenes of day and night as well as the liminal space between them a filmic motif, using modern technologies of lighting for entire landscapes as well as more confined spaces that create a visual atmosphere unavailable to even the most advanced stage director, in addition to which he uses horses prolifically as a means of advancing his narrative. In Shakespeare's theater beheadings must occur off stage and dummy severed heads be introduced afterwards to establish the fact, whereas Polanski can show an actual decapitation by means of trick photography. Citations of Macbeth are taken from the New Cambridge "updated" edition by A. R. Braunmuller (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

(2.) Lorne M. Buchman, Still in Movement: Shakespeare on Screen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 70.

(3.) One of Polanski's most brilliant inventions is to show the Macduff children playing blindman's buff before they are slaughtered. The oldest Macduff boy, before he is suddenly stabbed by one of the marauders, is shown with his blindfold still on when he is brought to greet Ross, a relative whom he trusts but who is really an agent of his destruction. See also note 10 below.

(4.) A soldier on the beach after battle kicks a fallen combatant to see if he is still alive, clubbing him to death with a spiked ball when the body stirs. Macbeth murders Duncan's dazed grooms when they awake with Lennox's enormous broadsword. Banquo is felled by an axe between the shoulder blades before being discarded like refuse in a creek. Seyton at Dunsinane is suddenly struck down by an arrow between the eyes. Macduff, when he rises from the grief that news of his family's slaughter has inflicted, raises his avenging sword in a manner that again bisects the screen. Macbeth's body is pierced diagonally from kidneys to chest before the ultimate beheading.

(5.) Part of the background of an early battle scene is a gallows on which a dozen or so traitors are being hanged. Cawdor's execution involves hanging by a chain, and as Macbeth departs for home, having just attended the installation of Malcolm as heir to the throne, he glances aloft to see the dangling corpse suspended in one of the upper openings of Duncan's headquarters. An image of hanging seems to be suggested again by the camera's singling out an empty, swinging, noose-shaped hook over a well, used earlier to draw up a bucket of water in which Macbeth and his wife wash blood from their hands. Daggers, of course, become indispensable props in the narrative, most notably for the murder of Duncan but often elsewhere as well. Their prominence as an instrument of severed trust and betrayal is well conveyed by Malcolm's line, "There's daggers in men's smiles" (2.3.133).

(6.) Kenneth Tynan, with whom Polanski co-wrote the screenplay, was a particular admirer of Shakespeare's two Henry IV plays, which he regarded as "the twin summits of Shakespeare's achievement"; see Tynan, Curtains: Selections from the Drama Criticism and Related Writings (New York: Athenaeum, 1961), 93.

(7.) In Polanski's screenplay, available online, Macbeth "puts his hand on [Duncan's] mouth, to silence him" (14), which, if it had happened in the film as distributed, would serve as an interesting preecho of Banquo's act in the dream sequence. Polanski departed in some details from his original design.

(8.) Crowl, Shakespeare Observed: Studies in Performance on Stage and Screen (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1992), 25-30.

(9.) Several stage productions of Macbeth appear to have borrowed Polanski's notion of political cycles repeating themselves. Gregory Doran's 1999 RSC version of the play at the Swan theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, starring Anthony Sher and Harriet Walter as the principals, brought Fleance back at the end, "watching quietly" as Malcolm, the new ruler, "gave his maiden speech. ... Perhaps all this is going to happen again?" See Doran's account of the production in Macbeth, The Sourcebooks Shakespeare, ed. William Proctor Williams (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2006), 19. Gale Edwards's staging of the play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland (2009), featuring Peter Macon and Robin Goodrin Nordli as the Macbeths, incorporated a similar effect by having the weird sisters reappear at the conclusion to confront Fleance, the suggestion being that Malcolm's reign would be turbulent and short-lived; see Don Weingust, "Shakespeare in Ashland," Shakespeare Newsletter 60, no. 2 (Fall 2010): 53. Adrian Noble's RSC Macbeth with Jonathan Pryce and Sinead Cusack (1986) also borrowed ideas from Polanski, including a more prominent role for Fleance, who was seen occupying Macbeth's throne when the tyrant king tried to sit in it; see Crowl, 32. Polanski himself may have derived the idea of giving greater prominence to Fleance from Orson Welles's film adaptation (1948), which includes a scene in which Banquo's son witnesses Malcolm's claiming the crown, thereby implying that the boy may someday succeed Malcolm as king. Donalbain, Duncan's second son, became Donald III after his brother's death, by some accounts a usurper like Macbeth, since Malcolm seems to have preferred his eldest son Edward as heir. The myth of James VI's ancestry being traced back to Banquo was available in Holinshed. According to legend Fleance escaped to Wales after his father's murder where he begot an illegitimate son (Walter) upon a Welsh princess, whereupon the angry father of the girl killed Fleance. When Walter grew up he then killed a man who taunted him with bastardy, fleeing Wales for Scotland where he rose to become Lord Steward of Scotland under King Edgar, a title from which the surname Stuart derived. Generations later, one of the Stuart descendants espoused Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert the Bruce, and their child took the title of Robert II. King Robert's descendants eventually brought James VI (James I of England) to birth. See William C. Carroll, Macbeth: Texts and Contexts (New York: Bedford / St. Martin's Press, 1999),117,153,159-61.

(10.) The grisly episode at Fife in which we see Macduff's family destroyed is filmed as the medieval version of a Nazi housebreaking. One of Macbeth's heartless subalterns wrecks the household, sweeping away family mementoes, including the toy figure of a knight on horseback (meant to suggest a boy's heroic image of his father) to the accompaniment of screaming servants and cowering children. When the oldest boy bravely protests the word "traitor" applied to his father, the soldier contemptuously plunges a knife between his ribs after which he seizes the honor-stricken Lady Macduff to carry her off like a bag of rubbish. Looking down a corridor, the camera glimpses a female servant being savagely raped, we see a mutilated child, and the episode ends with the torching of the entire building, the raging fire consuming every vestige of human life including a metal cross, almost the only symbol of Christianity to be seen throughout the movie. The cross also appears on the crown--in Polanski's use of it clearly a symbol of naked power rather than of sacred kingship.

(11.) Anthony Davies and Stanley Wells, eds., Shakespeare and the Moving Image: The Plays on Film and Television (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 2; Suzanne K. Langer, Feeling and Form: A Theory of Art (New York: Scribner, 1953), 412.

(12.) We do see her faint at a later point in the action when she glimpses the bloodied grooms whom Macbeth has savaged with Lennox's sword. In this context her collapse seems more genuine than feigned. She has already "badged with blood" (2.3.95) the hands and faces of the drugged chamberlains and returned their daggers to the site, but she has not yet seen them butchered as she does at this moment. Polanski makes the scene look like an abattoir. We know that the sight of blood appalls her; cf. "Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?" (5.1.33-34).

(13.) In Macbeth's frightening dream, seen on-screen in pantomime after he has suborned the two murderers, Fleance performs the same action of uncovering the sleeper's bare chest. We also see Banquo stripped to the waist as he is dressing on the morning after Duncan's murder, a subtle suggestion of his vulnerability at Macbeth's hands.

(14.) See note 10 above.

(15.) Not surprisingly Polanski, who systematically expunges most of Shakespeare's Christian allusions from his version of Macbeth, avoids the possible pun on Seyton/Satan by having the character's name pronounced "Seaton."

(16.) Judith Anderson became identified with the role of Lady Macbeth, which she acted opposite Laurence Olivier in an Old Vic production of 1937. She and Maurice Evans played the leads on Broadway in 1941 to great acclaim, repeating their collaboration in George Schaefer's Technicolor television film of 1954; she appeared again on television in a 1960 version of the play. At least for Americans, her interpretation seemed to define the role in a way that minimized the sexual component in the Macbeth marriage and concentrated on the personal, as opposed to the political aspects of ambition as the ground of high tragedy. Jack Gould speaks of "Miss Anderson's diabolical and earthy persuasiveness as a conspirator"; see Shakespeare on Television: An Anthology of Essays and Reviews, ed. J. C. Bulman and H. R. Coursen (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1988), 240.

(17.) Jan Kott, Shakespeare Our Contemporary (New York: Anchor Books, 1966), 97.

(18.) Shakespeare's witches are limited in the extent of their power. Although they can create dangerous storms, they cannot actually sink ships, causing mariners to die: "Though his bark cannot be lost,/Yet it shall be tempest-tossed" (1.3.23-24). Polanski omits these lines.

(19.) Although Polanski retains these lines, he does not take seriously the cosmology they imply.

(20.) James M. Nosworthy notes that in addition to doubleness, "triads are conspicuous" in Macbeth; see "Macbeth, Doctor Faustus, and the Juggling Fiends," in Mirror up to Shakespeare: Essays in Honour of G. R. Hibbard, ed. J. C. Gray (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984), 220. The three weird sisters and the three murderers of Banquo come to mind, as do the chants of the witches (which involve threes and multiples of three) and the "three things" the Porter tells us "drink especially provoke[s]" (2.3.22). Triadic rhetoric is also noticeable as in "Hail./Hail./Hail" (1.3.60-62), "horror, horror, horror" (2.3.56), and "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" (5.5.18). As Nosworthy points out, "these triads invariably occur in contexts that are evil, and usually satanic" (221). I would suggest that this prevalence of "three-ness" may reflect an inversion of the Christian Trinity and therefore a world in which diabolical evil is unusually pervasive and powerful. Paradoxically, of course, the mockery or perversion of a belief system acknowledges the strength of the belief under attack. Christian orthodoxy holds that evil can only operate in the universe by divine permission. See also note 15 above.

(21.) Implied by the ceremony of royal touching, possibly glanced at in Richard 11 (3.2.6-11), were the gospel accounts of Christ healing the leper. See the note in my Arden 3 edition of Richard II (London: Thomson Learning, 2002), 492-93; also Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16.

(22.) Macbeth echoes his wife's image of a smashed cranium in his incredulous comment on Banquo's ghost: "The time has been/That when the brains were out, the man would die,/And there an end. But now they rise again/With twenty mortal murders on their crowns/And push us from our stools" (3.4.78-82).

(23.) Although the phrase "visitings of nature" means primarily "feelings of compassion," it seems also to suggest menstrual bleeding, an indication that ovulation has occurred; see Braunmuller, Macbeth, 33, 141.

(24.) Polanski cuts Banquo's statement, "In the great hand of God I stand ..." (2.3.123), the announcement of his intention to oppose the as yet undisclosed assassin of Duncan.

(25.) Henry Iriving's production of Macbeth (1888) made a point of the natural setting in which Duncan is killed. The king arrived at Inverness on a stage flooded by moonlight, entering through a "raised portcullis flanked by greenery"; see Marvin Rosenberg, The Masks of Macbeth (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), 244.

(26.) We see the Porter pausing to urinate against a wall before finally opening the gate. Even under the stress of impending revolt Finch's Macbeth picks at some roasted meat while bullying a frightened servant as a "cream-faced loon" (5.3.11).

(27.) "Thou hast planted them ... they growe, and bring forth fruit" (Geneva version); see Naseeb Shaheen, Biblical References in Shakespeare's Tragedies (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1987), 160.

(28.) Graham Holderness is a notable postmodemist exception: "The moral order is not restored in its original form, since it was never in the first place presented as a moral order, but as a violently self-divided society, whose basis in naked power is ultimately demystified and exposed." See "Macbeth: Tragedy or History," Stagebill (June 1992); quoted by Barbara Hodgdon, "Macbeth at the Turn of the Millennium," in Shakespearean Illuminations: Essays in Honor of Marvin Rosenberg, ed. Jay L Halio and Hugh Richmond (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1998),149.

(29.) Mack, Killing the King: Three Studies in Shakespeare's Tragic Structure (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973),184.

(30.) Harbage, ed., Macbeth (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1971),14.

(31.) Williams, "Mick Jagger Macbeth," Shakespeare Survey 57 (2004):148.

(32.) Kael, Deeper into Movies (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1973),400.

(33.) Seltzer, "Shakespeare's Texts and Modem Productions," in Reinterpretations of Elizabethan Drama, ed. Norman Rabkin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969),89,94-95.

(34.) Harbage, Conceptions of Shakespeare (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966),70.
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Title Annotation:Roman Polanski
Author:Forker, Charles R.
Publication:Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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