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Nunn's Portrayal of Macbeth

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Trevor Nunn's production of Macbeth closely follows the original; there are
very few line cuts. His version is very dark, with no backdrop and very few props.  The sparseness of props makes the ones that are used very powerful. All the characters perform in front of a black background. This is especially powerful with the Macbeths who always wear black and Duncan, who is shown in white.  These colors emphasize differences between the two and almost cast the
Macbeths as dark and sinister (or evil).

Nunn also portray's the witches in a surprising way. One of the sisters appears insane. She babbles and drools; she just generally looks confused and as though she's not a part of the same world. This is the sister who makes the witches' more prophetic statements and comments that they will meet Macbeth soon.

The scene with the apparitions is also different; there is more ritual attached to it in Nunn's version. The witches remove Macbeth's shirt and paint symbols on his back and forehead. He also drinks wine before hearing and seeing the "apparitions." The apparitions are not ghosts but puppets held by the witches, who give their messages. The witches~ final answer, when Macbeth sees that Banquo's children (not his) shall be kings is not shown to the audience at all. Instead the witches blindfold Macbeth, so that he sees the entire episode in his mind and the audience only hears his description of it. When the witches vanish, they leave the puppets behind. Macbeth takes them and looks at them whenever he is considering the witches' messages. Before he faces Macduff in battle, he looks to the puppet and remembers the message that "None of woman born can harm Macbeth."

Lady Macbeth is also a large part of Macbeth's motivation (at first). She appears to convince Macbeth to kill Duncan. While he is unsure, she avoids him and refuses to let him touch her, despite his efforts. When he finally seems willing to commit act, she begins to caress and touch him. By the end of the scene, they are kissing. The audience gets the sense that Lady Macbeth
convinced him largely by implying that she wouldn't allow sex if he refused to act ambitiously.

The audience does not see the ghosts or images Macbeth sees. When he raves about Banquo's ghost, the audience sees only his reaction and wonders, like the guests, if Macbeth has lost his mind. We also do not see the dagger he speaks of. The audience cannot tell if it is a "dagger of mind" or real as the one he draws.

The porter is portrayed as comic relief. He appears clown like with suspenders and large pants and no shirt. His lines are given with much laughter and comedic gestures throughout. He also receives no respect from Macduff when he finally opens the door. I think this portrayal takes away from the
importance of some of his lines and their connection to Macbeth.  The end of the film makes great use of the remaining few props the production uses. The crown and dagger that killed Macbeth are held next to each other.  This ending brings the play full circle and shows that the crown and dagger remain together.   It appears to summarize the play in which Macbeth killed for, and died for the crown.



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