If Shakespeare Had Been A Cinematographer

I believe that he would have approved of this adaptation of MacBeth. These days, it takes courage for a producer to have his work in Black and White, rather than color. I can think of only a few modern movies that were done in B & W.

In The Tragedy of MacBeth, the cinematographer really understood the medium and exploited it. Every shadow, every shade, was enhanced by this medium.

Take a look at the trailer:

One critic called the cinematography a visual feast.

My only issue? It’s really an issue highlighting my own ignorance, and not that of The Bard.

With the Elizabethan and Shakespearean English, I felt that I sometimes needed subtitles :-).

I am sure that would have elicited either a smile or sigh from Lex, who loved Shakespeare, Yeats and Browning.

But even if the dialogue had been in Latin, I knew the basic plot. And of course on a serious note, had there been modern subtitles it would have completely butchered The Bard’s intent, and the movie would have been ruined.

Among actors, there is a hierarchy. Many consider the theater to be a tougher venue than the camera. There are no retakes, and you are naked before the audience that judges you. Some, like me, consider a background in Shakespearian theater to be a big plus.

There’s an interesting quote I remember about a largely forgettable 1957 movie, The Prince and the Showgirl. It starred the unlikely pair of Sir Lawrence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. In fact, I think in recent years they made a movie about the making of this movie. It was big news in London when MM arrived to start the movie.

And it was said that Olivier agreed to do this to learn how to be a movie star from Marilyn, and Marilyn agreed to do it to learn from Olivier how to be an actress.

Olivier, considered by many to be the greatest actor of the 20th century, was a classically-trained Shakespearian actor.

Performances by Denzel Washington as MacBeth and Frances McDormand as Lady MacBeth show us that they are at the top of their craft.


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