Macbeth (The Tragedy of Macbeth) (1971)

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Released 8-Feb-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Taming Of The Shrew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 134:29 (Case: 140)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Roman Polanski
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jon Finch
Francesca Annis
Martin Shaw
Terence Bayler
John Stride
Nicholas Selby
Stephen Chase
Paul Shelley
Maisie MacFarquhar
Elsie Taylor
Noelle Rimmington
Noel Davis
Sydney Bromley
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Denim Bridges
Paul Buckmaster
Simon House


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In the battle for top honours in the "Bard's Bloodiest," Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth just manages to pip Titus Andronicus at the line, layering dark foreboding and creeping evil over sexual politics, violent coups dtat and a swelling pile of mouldering corpses. On the page though, most of the violence is implied or played offstage and most productions of Macbeth rely on atmosphere and rising madness for effect. Not so Roman Polanski's Macbeth. While atmosphere and madness can be had in spades, at the same time Polanski's production refuses to shy away from the play's implied violence and presents every event in graphic detail. What might be considered excessive - or not quite excessive enough for producer Hugh Hefner - is balanced perfectly by Polanski with Macbeth's overweening ambition to create a disturbing but often beautiful work of gothic art.

    Rather than recount the plot of Macbeth here, any unfamiliar with the play's narrative are referred to this review of the Nicol Williamson production. Polanski adds a few of his own touches and interpolations to the plot: Ross (John Stride), for example, acts not unlike Macbeth (Jon Finch), manipulating all sides and playing each to his advantage. He sets the slaughter of Macduff's (Terence Baylor) household in motion but also observes and encourages the murder of Banquo (Martin Shaw). Lady Macbeth (Francesca Annis) famously delivers her "damned spot" lines as she wanders the castle naked and the three sisters' witchcraft is shown in all its glory. Polanksi's changes and interpretation of the play never feel forced or like added-value gimmickry. Hugh Hefner may have pushed for extra nudity and violence, but both elements add to the horror of the events rather than appearing gratuitous.

    Macbeth is fast becoming my favourite of Shakespeare's works and Polanski's take currently sits at the top of the pile as the best film version. The acting is solid and never showy, the cinematography by Gil Taylor is gorgeous, and the production as a whole presents a realist window into the mind of one of the darkest figures in literary history. Polanski's own dark state of mind following the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, is often considered the driving force behind the film and the collision of two heavily-burdened souls has produced a disturbing and resonant film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Macbeth has been transferred very nicely on this disc. The film is presented in it original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is excellent throughout, although an occasional scene can appear a little soft in comparison (for example, 9:46). Detail is also very good and black levels are solid. Grain is present but not distractingly so. Brightness fluctuates a little in the opening scenes but very soon sorts itself out. Colours lean, for the most part, toward the greys and blues of the Scottish landscape, splashed with red blood and sunrise colours. Colours are rendered naturally and flesh tones are near perfect. The colours do reflect the film's age and appear undersaturated.

    MPEG artefacts are practically absent outside some minor pixelization. Some mild edge enhancement is visible, though. Film artefacts are heavy during the first 10 to 15 minutes but calm down noticeably for the rest of the film.

    A large selection of subtitles are available. English titles are relatively accurate but drop many words without altering the sense. Although white (always a positive) the font is just a little ugly and far too big and obtrusive. The film is divided into 28 chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is an accurate presentation of the original. Five audio tracks are included; Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono) in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. I listened to the English track.

    Dialogue is clear and clean throughout. Hiss and crackle are almost completely absent. Audio sync is accurate, but appears to be largely ADR and thus sounds a little separate to the image.

    The score was composed and performed by the Third Ear Band and consists of period music and twisted musical sounds in the darker scenes. An effective score that doesn't draw attention to itself.

    The mono audio has no surround or bass information.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

    A 4x3 trailer of Macbeth plagued by dirt and artefacts.

Trailer

    Letterboxed trailer for The Taming of the Shrew. Hardly inspiring preview.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of Macbeth sounds to be of similar quality, but includes only English audio and subtitles in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. It also includes the original trailer plus a trailer for Sense and Sensibility in place of The Taming of the Shrew. Either version would be satisfactory.

Summary

    Polanski's Macbeth pulls no punches and remains one of the greatest productions of Shakespeare's bloodiest play.

    Despite the film's age, video and audio are surprisingly strong and nicely transferred.

    Extras are missing in action: there are two trailers only.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Atkinson (read my bio)
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S336, using Component output
DisplayLG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V357
SpeakersDB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Macbeth R1 - wolfgirv
Re: Macbeth R1 -