Thursday, 7 September 2006
talking film: macbeth - shakespeare in the 'hood
ACMI presents a preview screening of Geoffrey Wright's Macbeth + discussion with Macbeth cast and crew + special guest from Bell Shakespeare company
The new Australian feature, Macbeth, is the latest of an estimated 275+ films that have brought Shakespeare to the big screen, and one of several recent movies that have adapted Shakespeare's timeless stories into a modern urban context.
We have seen Romeo and Juliet in the tenements of New York City in West Side Story; The Taming of the Shrew set in an American high school in 10 Things I Hate About You; Henry IV turned into a story of two drug-addicted male prostitutes in Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho; The Tempest in outer space in the cult sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet, and the Third Reich reappear for Ian McKellan's stunning 1995 retelling of Richard III.
Now comes the Australian version of Macbeth triggered by Melbourne's savage gangland wars. Macbeth, a loyal henchman to his crime boss, Duncan, is told by teenage witches that he will one day assume a position of great power. Fuelled by ambition, Macbeth confides in his beautiful drug-addicted wife, Lady Macbeth. He loves her to the point of obsession; she is mad with grief over the death of their only child. On hearing the prophecy, Lady Macbeth comes to life, hatching a plot to kill Duncan so that her husband can take leadership of the gang for himself. The infatuated Macbeth agrees to her murderous plan and everything is set to explode.
Shakespeare's compelling stories of love, war, betrayal, family, sexual politics, paranoia (with some supernatural shenanigans and cross-dressing for good measure) have inspired our actors, directors and filmmakers for literally centuries. Where many other writer's works lose relevance through history, the timeless nature of Shakespeare's stories have seen them survive two world wars, an industrial revolution, the doubling of the average human lifespan, and the explosion/expansion of the English language.
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