Shakespeare’s play Macbeth has been done many times on stage, and many times on the silver screen. Read reviews of the very best Macbeth movies below – specifically Roman Polanski’s 1971 Macbeth movie, and Trevor Nunn’s 1978 version of Macbeth on the big screen.

Macbeth Movie 1971: Roman Polanski

Polanski's 1971 Macbeth movie

 Polanski’s gory 1971 Macbeth movie

It is surprising that so few films have been made of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, given that the play is such an exciting drama, filled with all the ingredients that would keep an audience on the edge of their seats.

Certainly, when Polanski’s 1971 Macbeth movie came out in 1971 it was a blockbuster. The cinemas filled up with group bookings by schools as teachers crocodiled their students to the local theatre. It met the cinematic expectations of movie-goers of the time, with its extreme and vivid violence, nudity, close-up face to face fighting and special effects. Read full review >>

Macbeth Movie 1978: Trevor Nunn

Trevor Nunn's Macbeth movie 1978

 Ian McKellan and Judi Dench in Trevor Nunn’s Macbeth movie 1978

Nunn’s 1978 Macbeth movie is not cinematic in any way – it’s theatrical, a television version of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage production – but nevertheless a brilliant film.

The actors sit in a large circle and come forward for their performances. Most of the time you are unaware of the circle of actors as the filming is always close-up with the focus on the characters, isolated and lit, with darkness all around them. The language of the play indicates the perpetual darkness, as this is a vision of Hell. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have turned their castle into a hell and when Duncan enters beneath its portals that’s what he is going into. Read full review >>

Macbeth Movie 2015: Justin Kurzel

Michael Fassbender as Macbeth 2015

Michael Fassbender as Macbeth

When a film writer adapts a Shakespeare play for the big screen she has to make it of much shorter duration, invariably having to cut up to half of the beautiful poetry that makes up the Shakespeare text. That in itself causes a huge landslide of the original meaning, that inevitably obscures or conceals, or at least changes, Shakespeare’s intentions. Read full review >>

See reviews of Hamlet movies >>

See reviews of Romeo and Juliet movies >>

See Shakespeare in Love movie review >>

See all Shakespeare movie reviews >>


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