Macbeth was originally performed in 1606 and written by the most renowned playwright of the time, William Shakespeare. The play was only performed once in Shakespeare’s lifetime after the Queen of England decided it was to vile to ever be performed again. Obviously, this didn’t stop anyone from reenacting the play after Shakespeare lifetime. Great Performance: Macbeth is a movie reenactment that was released in 2010, directed by Rupert Goold. Goold’s version is quite different while continuing to maintain the integrity of the original dialogue of Shakespeare’s script.
The overall setting of the play – Macbeth – was set around 1000 AD, in Scotland. Within Scotland, the characters were in different smaller settings. Some of these settings consisted of Forres, where King Duncan lived and soon will be where Macbeth lives. Inverness is Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s home, which lies King Duncan’s dead body. Fife is another commonly mentioned place. Macduff’s family resides in Fife and his family is killed some time after the disappearance of Macduff. The Macbeth movie directed by Rupert Goold takes place between the 1940’s and 1950’s. It’s physical setting is similar to that of a Soviet Union Era, where there are guns like AK-47’s and trains; but it is still located in Scotland. The location of the characters’ homes in the movie presume to be consistent with the play.
When reading the play, you form an idea of who the characters are and what they should look like in real life. Lady Macbeth is seen as an ambitious woman who lusts after power. This is shown when she tries to convince her husband – Macbeth – to kill King Duncan. By doing that, Macbeth would become king and she’ll become queen. In the movie, Lady Macbeth is still shown as ambitious and lustful for power but she is represented as a young woman, which this could be why her influence over her husband is mostly sexual throughout the play and movie. In Goold’s movie, Macbeth is an older man seen as a power-hungry politician. Macbeth finds humor in the events leading to his downfall and to the announcement of his wife’s suicide. Macbeth continues to lack confidence in both the play and movie, who is a brave soldier that is easily tempted by his wife and the three witches, and uses violence as a means to fix his problems. This is shown when the prediction of him becoming Thanes of Glamis from the three witches becomes true and he begins to kill people or have others kill people who are in his way of power. When it comes to the three witches, their identity is often unclear within the play. They are mischievous and have much control over Macbeth. This seems to stay consistent with the movie, but their identity is shown as them being nurses and have a spookier vibe to them. Goold puts the witches throughout different scenes that they weren’t apart of during Shakespeare’s play. They don’t speak within these scenes, but instead they watch creepily at everyone else.
In Shakespeare’s version of Macbeth, the dialogue is in iambic pentameter. Throughout the dialogue of the play, you sense a little or a lot of power from nearly each character. Lady Macbeth represents a lot of power within the play. She even goes as far as to tell her husband – Macbeth – that she’ll kill Duncan since her husband isn’t man enough or doesn’t have enough confidence to do it. This theme of power within the dialogue is persistent throughout Goold’s version of Macbeth. He uses the same dialogue as the play, but he does cut out some lines here and there. Goold also changes a couple of the scenes around so there is a different flow of events to fit his movie.
When you read Shakespeare’s version it opens up with the three witches planning a time to meet after the battle that is taking place. It quickly moves into Macbeth becoming Thanes of Glamis – the prediction he heard from the three witches – shortly after, he is announced King due to King Duncan’s sudden, “unexpected” death. While Macbeth is King, he has his friend Banquo killed because his power sees everything as a problem and to fix the problem, there must be violence or murder. He soon sees the three witches again who give him three apparitions. In the first apparition he is told to beware of Macduff, in the second apparition he is told that he will not be harmed by man who is not born of woman. Because he is told to beware Macduff, he goes to battle and fights Macduff, thinking that Malcom is not born of women. Macduff reveals to Macbeth that he was untimely ripped from his mother’s womb making him not born of woman. It ends when Macbeth is killed by Macduff and Malcolm – King Duncan’s son – is announced King. Goold’s version sticks closely to this, but with a couple of the scenes being switched around, it doesn’t follow the exact same way. Instead of opening up with three witches, he opens up to the battle where King Duncan and his three sons are talking to the Captain about the war. After the Captain dies, the three witches who play as nurses within the movie are shown and it begins to flow into their first scene.
It is inspiring to see how Shakespeare’s letdown from the Queen, ended up being reenacted into everybody else’s perception of Shakespeare’s play hundreds of years later. Even though the characters and some of the setting was clearly different, the dialogue was extremely persistent to the play.