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Bloody, brutal and bleak, Roman Polanski’s take on Shakespeare is one of the grimmest seen on screen, but it is also gloriously cinematic.

Criticised on its release for its considerable gore and nudity, this is an unusually visceral Macbeth, soaked in mist, mud and (of course) blood. Francesca Anness and Peter Finch make for an unusually young and attractive take on the anti-heroic couple whose hunger for power compels them to their doom, and by rendering many of the most famous speeches internal monologues in voiceover, Polanski foregrounds the psychological struggles at the heart of The Scottish Play.

Like the recent adaptation starring Michael Fassbinder, Polanski sets the play in 11th century Scotland, in a nihilistically grey rendering of the “Highlands” (in fact a combination of locations in North Wales and Northumberland). The imposing Bamburgh Castle takes the central role of Dunsinane, while Lindisfarne substitutes for Inverness.

Filming locations:
Lindisfarne Castle
Bamburgh Castle and beach
St Aidans Church, Alnwick
North Charlton Moors

Film Information

Running Time: 2hrs 40mins

BBFC Advice: 15

Director(s): Roman Polanski

Country of Origin: UK & USA

Year of release:

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