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Shakespeare - Macbeth Essay

Updated on July 20, 2012

Essay Question - "It's all about choices. There is right and there is wrong - it's up to the individual to discern the difference and live with the consequences of his or her choice". How is this concept explored in Peter Moffat's Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth?

In the Film Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth directed by Peter Moffat, he uses the theme that the choices that people make, whether they are right or wrong, always have a consequence and these consequences have to be dealt with, and this is what shows a person's personality and character. Moffat explores this theme through a number of narrative techniques such as symbolism which relate back to the original play and to show the choices made whether they are right or wrong. Cinematic techniques which enhance the personality and emotions of the characters. Characterisation is used to explore the personality of each character and understand what choices they have made and why. Moffat also uses the setting to emphasise the characters personality and make the emotions stand out throughout the film. These few narrative techniques that Moffat use all to explore the choices being made.

Moffat uses the narrative technique, symbolism in Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth, to show the authority and personality of the characters and as a way of demonstrating key aspects of the story such as the right or wrong choices that the characters have made. In the beginning of the film, Macbeth is standing in the kitchen at the restaurant and behind him is a magnetic knife holder and it looks like the knives are a crown around his head which is used to introduce the character as a main character and let the audience know that Macbeth is the Character who has the high authority. The symbols that Moffat uses in Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth, relate directly back to the original play made by Shakespeare, but the symbols used like the crown of knives would have been a crown, and the knives used to kill Duncan would have been a sword. Moffat uses symbols very effectively whilst not overdoing the use of them but makes the point he is trying to get across very clear and understandable.

Moffat uses cinematic techniques involving camera angles and the view of the characters to enhance the personality and emotions on the main characters in Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth. Moffatt uses a variety of colours, of background objects and the clothing that the characters wear, which change the scene from happy to sad and so forth throughout the film. Moffat demonstrates his use of this technique by using shadows, lighting and the bland colours in the room where Joe cuts his hand on the glass which clearly tells the audience that this is a dull and bitter moment in the film. The use of not many vibrant colours in the film makes the small things stand out as if they are extremely important although some are very important like the death of duncan. At the beginning of the film there are lots of colours and camera angles that show the faces of the characters in the scene and as the film continues, less colours are being used and the camera angles don't show all of the characters faces. Moffat uses cinematic techniques effectively to enhance the personality and emotions that the characters are experiencing.

Characterisation is well used technique that Moffat uses to portray the message that he is trying to show the audience viewing the film. The innocent characters are the ones who learn from their mistakes and deal with the consequences effectively and move on quickly. When Joe kills Duncan, he knows that he had made the wrong choice but was pressured into doing it and it was too late to go back and the consequence of this ended up being that Lady Macbeth commits suicide and jumps off the roof and lands on the bins. Moffat uses the characters very well in Macbeth to show how all choices have consequences that have to be faced.

Moffat uses the setting to emphasise the emotions and personality that the characters have throughout the film. At the beginning of the film, there is a dump truck with three workers in it. These three workers are the resembling the witches in the original film made by Shakespeare, and it is set at a dump. The dump resembles an unwelcoming place that people try to avoid for multiple reasons, and therefore saying that the three workers are also people that others try and avoid. The kitchen is used to represent the castle in the original Shakespeare play as it still has some sort of hierarchy and discipline. Moffat uses the setting of Macbeth to closely relate back to the original whilst still keep it modern.

All in all, Moffat explores the theme of making choices and dealing with the consequences through symbolism to show authority and personality, cinematic techniques which enhance the personality and emotions of the characters, characterisation to portray the message and theme, and last but not least, the setting which emphasises the emotions and personality of the characters.


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    • Willsummerdreamer profile image

      Will English. 

      5 years ago from Marietta, Georgia.

      This is seems less about the play and more about how good a movie adaptation of said play is. Don't get me wrong, I like your analysis, but I think you should make that clear in the title and maybe move this to the film section so you can get more hits. Just my opinion. It's still one of my favorite plays though. Good job.


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