Macbeth

  • 1978
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Shakespeare aficionados will cheer the opportunity to see this TV record of Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed 1976 stage production. The Scottish warrior lord Macbeth (Ian McKellen) has all the qualities required of a monarch except the right of natural succession. Beloved King Duncan (Griffith Jones) will naturally bequeath his crown to one of his sons,...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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Shakespeare aficionados will cheer the opportunity to see this TV record of Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed 1976 stage production.

The Scottish warrior lord Macbeth (Ian McKellen) has all the qualities required of a monarch except the right of natural succession. Beloved King Duncan (Griffith Jones) will naturally bequeath his crown to one of his sons, Malcolm (Roger Rees) or Donalbain (Greg Hicks). But Macbeth has overweening ambition and Lady Macbeth, (Judi Dench) on his side, and once she learns that three prescient crones have predicted that MacBeth is destined to be king she urges him to seize the throne by any means necessary. The Macbeths form a plan that starts with welcoming King Duncan into their home; Macbeth slays the king and his wife murders Duncan's sleeping guards and frames them for the crime. Duncan's sons flee the country, dogged by suspicions of patricide. The increasingly paranoid Macbeth systematically kills anyone who stands might be a threat, but while his minions eliminate Banquo (John Woodbine), Banquo's son escapes. Macbeth's assassins next wipe out the family and servants of Macduff (Bob Peck), but miss the target instead. Seething with hatred, Macduff conspires with Malcolm to undo their mutual betrayer. In the interim, Lady Macbeth becomes unhinged by guilt and Macbeth begins seeing the ghosts of his victims. Yet he clings to his belief that the witches promised him the crown, no matter what the cost.

Director Phillip Casson dilutes the much-vaunted power of the Royal Shakespeare Company's production by consistently bringing the camera in too close and favoring shots in which the actors speak directly to the viewer. Nonetheless Peck, Woodbine and Reese are memorable — the surprise is that Dench is only

Sporadically effective and McKellen is so nervously mannered that he seems more a candidate for shock treatment than the throne.

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  • Released: 1978
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Shakespeare aficionados will cheer the opportunity to see this TV record of Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed 1976 stage production. The Scottish warrior lord Macbeth (Ian McKellen) has all the qualities required of a monarch except the right of natural su… (more)

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