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Macbeth (1948)

Passed | | Drama, History, War | 23 June 1950 (France)
Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

Director:

Orson Welles

Writer:

William Shakespeare (by)
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Orson Welles ... Macbeth
Jeanette Nolan ... Lady Macbeth
Dan O'Herlihy ... Macduff
Roddy McDowall ... Malcolm
Edgar Barrier ... Banquo
Alan Napier ... A Holy Father
Erskine Sanford ... Duncan
John Dierkes ... Ross
Keene Curtis ... Lennox
Peggy Webber ... Lady Macduff / The Three
Lionel Braham ... Siward
Archie Heugly Archie Heugly ... Young Siward
Jerry Farber Jerry Farber ... Fleance
Christopher Welles Christopher Welles ... Macduff Child
Morgan Farley ... 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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Entertainment Greatness . . . That Only Motion Picture Magic Can Bring !

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

23 June 1950 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Макбет See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$900,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mercury Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Orson Welles told biographer Barbara Leaming that his movie Macbeth was a bold charcoal sketch of the play. See more »

Goofs

In one scene, you see Duncan in a crowd holding a lighted candle. The film cuts to a close up of Duncan and he is holding an unlit candle, the next cut back to Duncan in a crowd again holding a lighted candle. See more »

Quotes

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

Alternate Versions

The 89-minute version, recut by studio executives, and redubbed by Welles and the other actors to cut down on the Scottish accents, also omitted some of the play's most famous lines, e.g. "Double, double, toil and trouble", the whole second half of the "If it were done when 'tis done" speech, the line "I have supp'd full with horrors", some of the "Is this a dagger which I see before me" speech, as well as the entire conversation between Macbeth and the murderers in which he persuades them to kill Banquo. See more »

Connections

Version of Macbeth III: The Secret'st Man (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

From the Language Shapes
7 March 2008 | by tedgSee all my reviews

I got an angry email from a reader upset that I thought Olivier's "Hamlet" to be worthless.

I hold that view because of a personal appreciation of Shakespeare.

What I appreciate of his work is the unique way that his words can weave small cells of images, ambiguous layered and rich. Lovely as well, to tease their way into our souls. These little packages of firework wordimages burst on the tongues we listen with and successively whip a foam that perfectly follows the shape of the larger story.

He does this in different ways: "Tempest," "Ceasar," "Juliet" are all different and different from this play in how he structures this foamnarrative. This is not favorite among the great plays because it is excessively sonorous. I believe this to have something to do with Will's obsessions with word origins and his emphasis on Saxon structures.

Olivier is a typical British actor, someone that sees the words as merely shapes for the mouth and incidentally related to the grand arcs and tensions of the long composition. They are excuses for locution. Such actors disconnect the poetry from the massive stones that pass through the narrative.

This on the other hand is as well conceived as Olivier's Hamlet is mere posturing. It takes the poetry and uses it to build the whole. Welles mucks around with the play, reassigning text, creating new characters and editing heavily, but all to a coherent purpose. His army of cross bearers is something you will never forget.

But he does something else. All the changes, all the special attentions. All the theatrical devices are geared toward the cinematic expression. This isn't just a production by Welles. It was THE production. He'd been doing this for a decade. His theatrical production was the first cinematic play in history, and his work on it (and most of the players) came to Hollywood prepared, which is why we got "Citizen Kane."

This is terrific Shakespeare. This is terrific cinema. To my taste, "Othello" was even better. More layers. More ambiguity. More patina. And highly architectural.

But this. My friends. Shakespeare is special. Don't trust your soul with someone not worthy.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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