Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ah, 1948. Ah, Orson Welles.

Macbeth. Dir. Orson Welles. Perf. Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O’Herlihy, Roddy McDowall, Edgar Barner, and Alan Napier. 1948. DVD. Republic Pictures Home Video, 1992.

And, of course, Ah, Macbeth!

Last night, I started the Orson Welles Macbeth (1948) for my students—but I had to leave early. That mean that I missed one of my favorite Macbeths ever!

One reason I like it so much is the costumes. They’re reminiscent of what I might cobble together out of my office closet and / or my basement. The “Klingon Statue of Liberty” outfit for the closing scene is priceless.

But there’s more than that (of course). The play opens with the witches (of course)—but, more remarkably, it closes with the witches. The last lines of the play are
So thanks to all at once, and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown’d at scone. (V.ix.40-41)
Yes. Not the very hight of Shakespeare’s powers, that.

Welles’ Macbeth closes with this line . . . one the witches spoke in Act I:
Peace!—the charm’s wound up. (I.iii.37)
Framing the play with the witches gives them enormous power and responsibility over the evil in the play . . . perhaps too much, in fact . . . but it’s an extraordinarily effective ending.

It makes you think.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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