Friday, May 13, 2011

Scotland, PA—No Dagger, but a Banquo

Scotland, PA. Dir. Billy Morrissette. Perf. James LeGros, Maura Tierney, and Christopher Walken. 2001. DVD. Sundance, 2005.
While we're on the subject of Macbeth (or, at least, while I'm on the subject), I'd like to return to the darkly-comic derivative version entitled Scotland, PA. That version sets the plot in the world of the early days of fast-food restaurants.

For some reason, the film avoids the dagger speech—there's no direct analogue to that scene—but it does deal with the ghost of Banquo in an interesting way. Instead of the ghost of Anthony "Banko" Banconi (is it clear enough that that's the Banquo analogue?) appearing at a banquet, he shows up in a press conference. And instead of remaining silent, Banko speaks. Watch for that in the clip—and watch, too, for the delightful parody of suspense-building in films of this kind.

Note: The film has a lot of coarse language; I've silenced some of the more severe words, but it isn't terribly hard to lip-read them. Forewarned is forearmed!


"Why did you kill me?" may be the unvocalized question that the ghost of Banquo is asking Macbeth in the Scottish play. Here, it's deliberately foregrounded and made to be the center of Macbeth's encounter with Banquo.

As the scene progresses, we see the Lady Macbeth analogue struggle with the equivalent of Shakespeare's hand-washing motif. In this film, she burned her hand during Duncan's murder; she still feels the pain of it, even though it's completely healed.

Finally, we notice Lady Macbeth's pants. Is that the "Trees of Birnam Forest" pattern printed on the fabric?
Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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