For this unit we will be watching the 2015 Kurzel movie version starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. It is imperfect, so we will supplement it with clips from other movies and with text from the play.
When this movie fails us, we will be filling int he gaps with the 1971 Roman Polanski version. We will not be watching the whole version of this movie because WOW! some scenes are a bit rough.
Opening Scene - Witches
Why witches? King James is the king of England and Scotland when Shakespeare writes this play. He writes this play to suck up to King Jame.
The witches make a huge impact on the whole mood of the play, so choosing how to interpret them is key to a movie's success. Here are three different movies and their approach to Act I scene i:
When Shall We Three Meet Again activity
Two other opening scenes:
We made our own movie of this in 2003. The class did Act V in the Lord
of the Rings setting. Lots of fun. Sadly, the film is lost to posterity.
Teachers, if you liked this, you may also enjoy the Extreme English Teacher Blog.
Opening Battle Scene - The Battle of Ellon
Here is the opening crawl:
Civil war rages
of Glamis, leads a weary army.
How is this different from the play? Well, there are two traitors in the play - Macdonwald and the Thane of Cawdor. Also, the play does NOT mention that few are loyal - in fact, from the play, it seems that a large majority of Scotland is loyal to King Duncan. This changes the movie at bit because now Macbeth has a reason to not like Duncan and Duncan is just a fool for trusting the wrong people.
Whatever the case, the important thing is to know that Macbeth is a hero in every sense of the word. He fights for what is right against overwhelming odds, he does not back down in the face of opposition, and he serves his country. For this he gets rewarded by the title of Thane of Cawdor.
Why that is important:
The Witches Prophecy
We already know that the witches are bad news (they are witches) and that they want to meet up with Macbeth. They are going to plant the seeds of discord into this hero's head.
When he comes, they call out to him and call him:
This clip leaves out that Banquo wants in on the fun and asks about his own future. They say several things, but the most important is:
They think this is all a joke until the Thane of Ross and the Thane of Angus ride up and greet him as Thane of Cawdor. So now, could he be king?
Big point in the play:
Lady Macbeth's Freaky Unsex Me Soliloquy
A soliloquy - a speech made by a character when he/she is alone on stage. Why is this important? Because it is only then that we can truly trust what the character is saying.
Missed this day in class? Complete this worksheet.
Watch it: (you may want to get to the 1 minute 30 second mark)
When he balks at her plan, Lady Macbeth questions his manhood, but that doesn't work. Then she attacks him with the "you promised" angle. Listen to what she says:
The Dagger Soliloquy
OK, so Macbeth has decided to kill the king. The plan? Lady Macbeth gets the guards drunk, rings a bell, Macbeth goes in to kill the king, and plants the daggers on the drunken guards. What could go wrong? Well, Macbeth, for starters. He is starting to feel very guilty. Here is his soliloquy:
Watch it two ways. Once without the dagger at all and another with the dagger:
Allowing the audience to see what Macbeth sees:
Here is what follows - the big question is, why did Shakespeare opt to not show this scene in the play?
The next morning, Macduff and Lennox come to wake the king. They mention several things of importance that happened the night before. They are:
Remember the theme of the land and the king are one from Excalibur?
Macduff goes in to wake the king and discovers him murdered. This sets off a chain of events:
The Third Murderer
Unfortunately, the movies all decide to ignore the intrigue around the third murderer. Macbeth hires two people to kill Banquo, but three show up and the third murderer doesn't seem to know all the details, or knows the details and intentionally fouls things up. That leads us to think that:
Does it matter? I guess not. But it is cool to speculate. What was Shakespeare thinking when he set this up? Why didn't he follow up on it?
Gone, but not Forgotten
Banquo may be muyrdered (20 gashes in his head!), but he still manages to show up for the feast! Is he real or is he in Macbeth's head?
Key point in this scene? Now the thanes are wary of Macbeth. Too many murders. Too much suspicion. Plus, who didn't show up for the feast? Macduff. Why? We'll find out soon enough. so will Macbeth because he says he has spies in every house.
Double Double Boil and Trouble
We will read this scene in class. Wow! This scene is cool. Just look at all those ingredients they put in!
Do those words sound familiar to you? Maybe you remember them from this Harry Potter movie.
What to get out of all of this? Well, Macbeth is now convinced that he cannot be harmed. You will need to know the following for the test:
Macbeth crosses the Rubicon here. Should he be afraid of Macduff? Yes. Now he makes it worse. The killing of the Macduff household shows a gradual progression deeper into Macbeth's misery. Let's look at who he kills:
This is the point of no return for Macbeth. A phrase that means this is "crossing the Rubicon". This means that Macbeth cannot return to being a hero from this.
Lady Macbeth Sleepwalking
Now we see that Lady Macbeth is not handling things as well as she thought she would be able to. You hear her mention the killing of Duncan, the killing of Banquo, and her suspicion of the killing of Lady Macduff. Remember what she said earlier about washing her hands?
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow...
Macbeth delivers this soliloquy right after he hears about Lady Macbeth's death.
I will ask you on the test what that means. If you are having a difficult time breaking it down, may I suggest Googling the answer.
Title Fight of the Night: Macbeth v Macduff!