Macbeth is one of the least potent tragedies of Shakespeare and it so happens to one of his overrated works as well. There is no real tragedy as the drama has a continuous even downpour from the very beginning and it's hard to feel sympathy to the titular character. Macbeth lacks the real emotions that made Julius Caesar and Shakespeare's greatest tragedy Hamlet what they are.
Polanski's Macbeth is uneven, but it stays true to the source material. It's performances are mostly unsatisfactory and the ending evokes more laughter than tears or sorrow. However, Polanski is able in creating a rich atmosphere, mood and feel of the dark time.
My first experience of Roman Polanski's Macbeth was not a very pleasant one; the dialogue was difficult to understand and because of that it was difficult to connect with the film's characters. A second viewing has allowed me to appreciate the film much better, as this time I was able to comprehend most of the film's phrases and words, allowing my experience to be smoother and immersive.
Macbeth covers the story of man who has been informed of his destiny from three witches, stating that he would become the ruler of Scotland. After learning this, he informs his wife of this and she becomes enticed with the idea, and finds herself obsessed and determined in letting this prophecy become a reality. It is a fascinating character study of someone being able to see into their own future and how this knowledge could eventually consume them. It makes me reflect on my own self, thinking whether it would change me as a person if I had the ability to predict the future; will my greed and jealousy shape me into a different and ill man? Humanity is obsessed with finding answers in order to gain a sense of security; little do they know that having this intelligence could actually be the cause of your doom.
I have always felt that Roman Polanski is at his best when he is handling material that is contemporary rather than period, as his contemporary characters feel more complex; I truly felt that the protagonist in The Pianist to be simplistic, lacking of fine detail. Here in Macbeth, he has proven me wrong as the titular character is such a tortured soul, anchored with intense psychological fractures caused from their betrayal and sin, making him such an interesting character to follow; the same goes for Lady Macbeth, who suffers the same issues as her husband.
Polanski has taken the theatrical trademark of the material, and placed it in a cinematic form; capturing it with a surrealistic tone and style, letting the internal torment be visible for the audience to see; letting the actors be free from having to plainly convey it in their performance. It is Polanski and his director of photography's (Gilbert Taylor) use of the camera that lets this classic tale not become a stage translation but instead a cinematic re-imagination, whilst maintaining the integrity of the source material. The sets in this film is accurate but also lavish, and his camera captures and moves through the set with such grace that we forget that it is easy to get lost into the period.
Macbeth proves why Polanski is one of the greatest directors of the 20th century. He is able to take an over-adapted material and brings something fresh and exciting with it.