Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Orson Welles - Macbeth (1948)


The film marked Welles's return to Shakespearean interpretation. He had planned to take his company and stage the play at the Utah Centennial Festival in Salt Lake City. With costumes and props at his disposal, Welles rehearsed his company and shot the film in 21 days.

The film was made on a very small budget. It utilised stylized sets in the manner of German Expressionism. While some consider it hammy and overacted, its admirers argue that it is notable for revealing the idiosyncrasies of each character as the movie progresses.

The film was a critical and commercial disaster in both the U.S.A. and the U.K.. It had been filmed with the actors speaking the lines in Scottish accents, which were largely responsible for the bad reviews - critics complained that the Shakespearean verse could not be understood. After its premiere, the film was withdrawn and partially re-dubbed by the same cast, with the actors speaking in Scottish, English and American accents. Then, it was edited to 89 minutes from its original 107-minute length, thus eliminating some of the most famous lines from the play, and several entire scenes. This was the version that eventually opened in New York, once again receiving devastating reviews. However, it was a huge success in many non-English speaking countries, especially France, where critics could not understand how the American and British press had failed to appreciate the highly stylized and surrealistic approach Orson Welles took to the play. In the 1980s, the original "all-Scots" sound track and the edited footage, long thought lost, were re-discovered, and the film was restored to its original version. Many critics and Shakespeare buffs now consider it a classic, though it is not shown as often as some of Orson Welles' other great films. As of 2006, it has been released on DVD only in Europe, not in the U.S.

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