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Nunn and Polanski’s Versions of Macbeth Assignment

I am going to be comparing two versions of Macbeth, Trevor Nunn and Roman Polanski. I will be comparing different aspects of both versions, things like costumes, colour, lighting, setting, props etc and then stating which I think is the best and why. Firstly I am going to be comparing the costumes worn by both sets of actors. In Nunn’s version the only colours used are black and white. He uses these to extreme colours for two extreme circumstances, good and evil.

Dark, drab clothes are used for evil characters such as the witches, while white for good characters like Duncan. I think this method of using the costumes isn’t as good as having full colour because instantly the viewer can see who is good and evil. If there was colour the viewers would have to work this out for themselves and it would add excitement to the story line. In Polanski’s version the costumes are in full colour. Again the evil witches are in dull, dark colours. Their clothes are old and in rags suggesting that they are evil.

The settings of both versions of the same play are very different. In Nunn’s version there is no real background pictures or objects, which would suggest the position of a character at a specific time. In fact the background is just darkened all the way through the play. Although this may limit what can be done with the setting, I think that it does add tension. Shadows are also used which again would add tension. On the other hand Polanski’s version is set on a beach, with this more can be added to the background.

The viewer would never need to get bored because the setting and background should entice them to watch on, but the plain background from Nunn does become boring after a while, and doesn’t really add to the story, so overall I feel that Polanski’s setting is better. The lighting in Nunn’s version is quite important. This is because mostly everything is dark and not a lot is seen; therefore the lighting needs to be good so that the play can be seen clearly. When the witches around gathered together in the first scene a lot of emphasis is made on their faces.

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The light shines on them from below making them seem more supernatural and scary to the viewer. With Polanski the lighting is very bright which makes the viewers more comfortable as they can see everything onscreen, making the evil theme less apparent at the beginning of the play. I feel that Nunn uses the lighting better because the setting is mainly dark he can show more with his use of the lights. Like I said before the colour in Nunn’s verson is only black, white and grey. This then limits what can be achieved with the colours to suggest different goings on.

With Polanski everything is in full colour and he can show that the witches are supernatural with out even saying a word. He does this by using the sky at the very start of the play. As the camera starts filming it opens on a blood red sky suggesting that whatever appears next in something evil, and at that the three witches enter. I think that because of this Polanski has a better use of colour in his version. Nunn doesn’t use very many special effects because he has limited his use of them because his background is so dark and dull.

Polanski can use special effects and one instant, which he uses it, is when the title “MACBETH” appears from the mist after the first scene, and the witches have exited. This again adds the idea of supernatural goings on and tension. In Nunn’s production when the witches are gathered in the first scene and the line “in thunder lightning and in rain” is mentioned, there is a bright light and a clap of thunder. This use of sound effects works very well because its stops this important first scene, with just the three witches onscreen from becoming boring.

Polanski however uses his sound effects very well and I feel it really adds to his version. Although it is set on a beach this isn’t very apparent but with his use of sound effects he makes it more so. He uses sounds of squawking seagulls and the pleasant calming sound of the sea. Also instead of showing a bloody battle at the line “when the battle’s lost and won” Polanski just has the noises of the battle in the background. These factors show that Polanski’s use of sound effects to help the portray of his production is a lot better than what Nunn has done.

Both versions use some camera work, which makes their production better to watch. Nunn uses the camera so that his actors can exit the stage with more excitement and tension. He displays this when the three witches have said all their lines from the first scene. To make them exit he scams past them and as the camera isn’t viewing them one leaves. He does this two more times, as he turns away a witch exits, until all three are gone. Adding confusion and again showing supernatural goings on. At the start of Polanski’s first scene the witches are all gathered around in a huddle but the camera only focuses on one of their hands.

It then gradually moves out showing the whole picture. This clever use of camera work allows the viewer to see the whole picture over a period of time and in this time they can get a good view of what the witches look like and what they are wearing etc. I think that Nunn uses camera work better hear because what he does adds tension, making the viewer want to watch on. Both versions had some props, Nunn had a wax doll and a needle for the sailor scene, but Polanski had a lot more, he had things like a stick, rope, human hand and even a floating dagger.

These all making his production easier to watch and more enjoyable. Overall I enjoyed Trevor Nunn’s version of Macbeth as it was full of tension and had good camera work involved with it, but the better of the two productions in my opinion has to be Roman Polanski’s. The costumes, lighting, colour and settings are just a few of the things that made it superior to Nunn’s version, as they were all a lot better. If I had to recommend one of them to a friend it would definitely be Polanski’s version.

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