Criterion Blogathon – Roman Polanski’s “Macbeth” (1971)

Roman Polanski opens his film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth with an establishing shot composed of equal parts cold, light blue sky and dour, grey beach. The beach begins to fill the screen as a gnarled stick starts scratching out a circle in the sand. Thus Polanski introduces his version of the witches: one of the weird sisters places a noose in the hole, another places a severed forearm grasping a dagger, and the three bury these items in the sand. The final witch then pours a vial of blood on the sand, and the three chant: “Fair is foul and foul is fair, / Hover through the fog and filthy air.” Polanski begins the scene with this couplet (it traditionally closes the scene), and completely fabricates the weird sisters’ grisly rites. This is Polanski’s vision – a grim and visceral portrayal of The Scottish Play, fully realized on the big screen:

Continue reading “Criterion Blogathon – Roman Polanski’s “Macbeth” (1971)”

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: