Lets Burn the 1971 Movie Version of Macbeth

Abby Bozek

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Macbeth. A timeless Scottish play written by Shakesphere to get on the good side of King James of Scotland and England. As most students know, this is a necessary book to read in high school. Yet since this was a playwright, many teachers find it necessary for us to watch the movie as well. Specifically for my class and I, the 1971 version, directed by Roman Polanski. So let’s come together to burn this movie. 


The quality of the movie is not an issue for me. It truly gets across what Macbeth was, yet somehow to an alarming degree. Among their cheap costumes and odd accents, confusion strikes the viewer. Often I find myself asking, what are they saying?!?! Considering its early-modern English and the actors are simply reading directly from the book, no one in my class (including me) knows what’s going on. Often times the only way I know what they’re saying is from the subtitles, but still, I fail to comprehend what they’re trying to say.  


I feel as if we watched an odd version of the movie, as we did for Romeo and Juliet in freshman year (the 1990s Baz Luhrman version where it’s basically gangs), we as students would have a much better understanding of what exactly is going on. Having it actually take place in the eleventh century made it so we not only had to pay attention to what they were saying, pay attention to what that meant, but also not fall asleep in the process. 


Simply put, this movie, despite being an accurate reenactment of the book, is just that. Middle-aged individuals, wearing cheap plastic costumes, reciting lines (word-for-word) out of a book that was written in the early seventeenth century. Despite being a classic play, there is no need to watch it as we are not in the seventeenth century, and watching it in the new English court. We are simply sophomores reading the book, and our job is to read and interpret the book. This movie should stay in 1971.