Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Orson Welles' Macbeth: Accents in 1948 and 1950 Compared

Macbeth. Dir. Orson Welles. Perf. Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O’Herlihy, Roddy McDowall, Edgar Barner, and Alan Napier. 1950. Blu-ray. Olive Films, 2016.

The 1950 version of Orson Welles' Macbeth different from his 1948 version in a number of ways, but one of the main ways is in the accents.  The 1950 version overdubbed with accents that sounded significantly less Scottish than those in the 1949 version. Thanks to the recent release of the Olive Signature Blu-ray of the film, we can compare those accents.

I have taken the "Was the hope drunk" sequence and provided it in the three film clips below. The first provides the 1948 Scottish-accent versions. The second is the less-Scottish 1950 version. And the third provides the first section of the exchange with side-by-side speeches. In each case, the 1948 version will come first.

The 1948 Version.

The 1950 Version.

The Side-by-Side Comparison Version.

I find that fascinating. And I suppose the 1950 version is more commercially viable—or was in 1950. But it does lose something in the translation . . . or re-accentization.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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One Man Shakespeare said...

That was really interesting, thank you! I had no idea there were two different versions of it! I much prefer the 1950 less Scottishy version!

kj said...

You're welcome, One Man Shakespeare. I only knew the more Scottish (Scottisher?) version as well—ever since I bought the only DVD available at the time, which was a Korean import. But the studio hoped that your reaction (less Scottishy, please) would be the reaction of most of the audience.

Take care!

kj (Bardfilm)

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).

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