Having read it recently and knowing all of the twists and turns, it was less thrilling or mysterious than it could have been, and watching it was a less objective measure of the comprehensibility of a Shakespeare adaptation using the original lines in 2022. Still, its faithfulness and tone were phenomenal for 1948.
Criticized at the time for the interpretive Scottish accents, for which Welles’ is likely the worst, it was shot in 23 days on a low budget using sets and costumes left over from other productions.
Despite the production limitations, and despite the ill-fitting accents faked by most of the cast, the performances are strong, the atmosphere is fitting, and the story is well told.
The castle is not ornate or palatial, but grim and hell-like seemingly hewn out of the rough stone. The characters appearance and garb, even the brutalist crowns reflect the darkness of the piece.
The madness of Macbeth’s hallucinations is not as reflected in the less depraved performance as Macbeth approaches his end as could have been.
Knowing the film would be dark, it was still less dark than expected or perhaps required for a perfect interpretation of the work about a crumbling homicidal madman. All in all, this piece was as avant garde and expressivist as could expected in the United States for that era. It is not groundbreaking in and of itself, and is not intended to be a popular hit or a blockbuster. It was instead both an artistic and faithful interpretation of a classic and depthful work, and considered in this context is eternally valuable. (no rating given)
Having not read this book since high school, watching this movie I felt similar to Welles’s character, drifting through a semi-lucid delirium of hallucinations that I found vaguely familiar.
The movie is shot quite well, though to modern eyes the sound stage where the entire film seems to be shot, leaves a bit to be desired. It does give it the slight ambiance of a play, from which the film was of course adapted.
While the cartoonish accents and some mixing issues can bring the viewer out of the movie to an extent, the cartoonish overacting, especially on the part of Welles, does give an interesting feeling of losing one’s mind.
Another strange choice was the costuming of this film, Macbeth looks like the Statue of Liberty, which Welles himself would attest too. The other actors look similarly bizarrely and cheaply dressed, once again giving the film an aura of watching your local theater troupe.
For a film shot in less than a month on a shoestring budget, it is an interesting watch. Being from such a prolific actor and director, it is defiantly worth the time it would take to click this link and watch the film in its entirety, replete with cringy Scottish accents, pirate costumes, and an ambiance so sophomoric you can almost smell the body odor of the high school stage hands.
2 cute neurodivergent theater girls/a sober acid trip