Macbeth (1971)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Tragedy, Period Film  |   Release Date - Oct 13, 1971 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 140 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Roman Polanski filmed William Shakespeare's grisly and nihilistic play as his first project after the horrifying murder of his wife Sharon Tate by the Manson family. Polanski's Macbeth taps into a deeply rooted literary tradition -- a hero flawed by ambition and tempered by conscience -- while using seedy cinematography to suggest the nasty brutishness and grimly expedient violence of this pre-medieval Scottish world. Jon Finch's Macbeth, who bears a creepy similarity to Charles Manson, offers an appropriately bipolar performance, swinging wildly from swaggering bravura to paralyzing guilt. The infamous Lady Macbeth is portrayed in a curiously muted and demure way by Francesca Annis, who gets stuck inside the role of a hysterical Victorian heroine and fails to show her character's development from doting wife to fiendish schemer. Polanski adds such non-Shakespearean scenes as the execution of Cawdor, the murder of Duncan, and the final duel between Macbeth and Duncan's avenger, Macduff -- all helping to portray, brutally and convincingly, the cruelty of a world run by savage despots, and making for an unforgettable film that is almost ceaselessly riveting.