Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Analysing Macbeth Through Themes and Film.

1. a. Banquo:  “You should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.” (I. III. 46-48)

b.  This is where Banquo and Macbeth first meet the “weird sisters” or witches.  Macbeth is ecstatic to see witches because they fascinate him.  This quote shows how Banquo is not as big a fan of witches as Macbeth.  However, later, when they inform Macbeth of his fate to become the king of Scotland, Banquo thinks better of the witches and asks of his own fate.

c.  In the movie, cinematic devices such as low key lighting and ominous music feed the eerie feeling the witches are meant to create.  The dimly lit basement room in which the scene takes place enhances the chilling atmosphere.  The way the witches speak in unison or in an impractical, riddled manner also develops the creepy mood.
    Robert Goold also utilizes a shot-reverse-shot editing technique to highlight the disjointedness of Macbeth and Banquo’s conversation with the witches.  Lastly the use of a prop plays into the quote’s theme of things not always being as they seem.  The prop is an IV stand with a bag of blood attached, the witches dress it up as a man, from a distance it may have seemed a man, when in reality it was just an IV.  The blood may also be significant foreshadowing of the violent deeds to come.

d.  Watching and hearing this quote though the medium of film definitely improved my understanding.  The specific quote seemed less important after watching the film because the mood of the scene as a whole was emphasized above what Banquo says. I knew the quote fell along the lines of things not always being as they seem, but I had not truly understood the sinister atmosphere the scene was meant to create.

2. a. Lennox:   “Those of his chamber, as it seem'd, had done 't:
                        Their hands and faces were all badged with blood;
                        So were their daggers, which unwiped we found
                        Upon their pillows:” (II. III. 111-114)

b.  Following Duncan’s murder at the hands of Macbeth, Lennox reports back with what he saw.  He thinks the guards had killed Duncan initially because that is how Lady Macbeth had tried to make it seem.  Lennox, being the honest, loyal man he is would not have believed otherwise.  Lennox knows Macbeth and all the other noblemen as honorable and does not suspect any of them of treason, even if the evidence that points to the guards is shaky at best.

c.  Lennox’s words are a very literal example of things not always being as they seem.  It seems like the guards murdered Duncan although in actuality it was Macbeth. In the movie this scene is lit pretty well, but not quite high key, in general Macbeth’s home seems a bit murky throughout.  Deception is emphasized, there are many multi-character shots and eye level camera angles to enhance the abundance of conversation that is taking place.  Most characters are in shock.  However, the way Patrick Stewart portrays Macbeth makes him seem suspicious if not guilty.  The addition of non-diegetic, foreboding music adds to this tone of deception.

d.  After observing this scene in the Macbeth film my understanding changed little.  I understood when reading that there were suspicions abound and that many believed Lady Macbeth’s setup.  However, when I watched the scene I saw Macbeth’s body language and his faked sense of shock.  I also understood just how naïve Lennox must be not to have suspected Macbeth.

3. a. Son: “Then the liars and swearers are fools; for there are liars and
                 swearers enow to beat the honest men and hang up them.” (IV. II. 59-60)

b.  After Macduff flees to England to contact Malcolm, Macbeth takes out Macduff’s family in their own home.  Macduff’s son provides this quote accurately describing the situation at hand in a discussion with his mother.  Macduff’s son is very intelligent, his words are wise and his support for both his parents is imminent.  It is incredible that a child sees the corruption in Scotland and realizes that the proportion of good honest men to the proportion of liars and fools is skewed.

c.  The lighting at this moment of the film was relatively high key.  The fact the scene had no noise other than the family’s discussion created tension and stressed what the characters were saying.  The camera angle used was a high angle, this increased the feeling of helplessness Lady Macduff and her family must have felt after Macduff’s departure.
      The characters also receive a lot of soft lighting which portrays them as innocent and benign.  When Macbeth and the murderers enter just moments later and murder the family, the camera angle changes to a lower level to portray Macbeth and his entourage as powerful and ruthless.  The scene highlights the contrast between good and evil and Macbeth’s corruption.

d.  When I read this quote it stood out to me as significant because of its direct reference to corrupted people.  When I heard this quote in the film my understanding shifted a bit.  I realized the son was trying to reason with and comfort his mother rather than just make a profound statement.  Seeing Macduff’s family slaughtered furthered my understanding of just how evil Macbeth becomes.

4. a. Malcolm:   “I am young; but something
                          You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom
                          To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb
                          T'appease an angry god.” (IV. III. 16-20)

b.  When Macduff arrives in England he tries to gain Malcolm’s trust.  Malcolm knows better, or at least thinks he knows better.  In another example of things not always being as they seem, the cautious heir to the late King Duncan, Malcolm, is not sure who to trust.  He has taken great care in enlisting the help of England, and because he does not know why he came, Malcolm is wary that Macduff may be treacherous.  He assumes that Macbeth killed his father, and doesn’t want to suffer the same fate.

c.  The scene takes place during a musical performance, Malcolm is relaxing, this makes him seem peaceful.  The high key and front and back lighting make it obvious that Malcolm and Macduff are good and are treacherous only to Macbeth’s cause.  Medium shots and close up shots connect the viewer to Malcolm and Macduff’s pivotal conversation, the camera is also placed at eye level, giving both a personable and human quality.
     The scene is also edited so that both Macduff and Malcolm are always shown, connecting the characters and suggesting a sort of alliance.

d.  Watching this scene was similar to reading it.  At this point I understood that Macduff wanted to ally himself with Malcolm.  After watching the film I saw how truly fearful Malcolm was of possible assassins and perfidious Scotsmen.  The way he addresses Macduff, a friend, shows just how apprehensive he is about anything relating to Scotland and Macbeth.

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