Shakespeare's Macbeth is so well known to most people who come to see film adaptations of it that we have difficulty judging what is on the screen as anything more than an interpretation, valid or otherwise, of the original dramatic material. Yet a filmmaker like Roman Polanski is an artist, just as Shakespeare himself was, and, as such, he brings his own sensibility to bear on the movies he makes. There is more of Polanski in Macbeth than might be surmised by looking at the script, for the director has expressed his point of view in this film primarily through visual rather than verbal means. By looking at Macbeth not as an attempt to interpret Shakespeare, but in terms of how it repeats and elaborates themes and motifs that have recurred in Polanski's work throughout his career, we emerge with a view of the film that emphasizes its differences from the play instead of its similarities to it. From this perspective, some of the film's most striking additions to the dramatic text — the youth of the protagonist and his wife and the graphic violence for instance — form a coherent pattern that has little to do with Shakespeare's original conception.



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