Macbeth On Screen: Three Great Film Versions of Shakespeare's Classic Tragedy

Macbeth On Screen: Three Great Film Versions of Shakespeare’s Classic Tragedy

Many years of cultural trickle-down have proven that the tragedies of William Shakespeare are the most endlessly adaptable works that have ever been created. And one of those works is Macbeth, a play with increasing importance and relevance. And since the truths described in Macbeth are still valid even in modern society. 

It is important to mention that students still learn and need to have at least the base knowledge about it for school and college. And you can still find teachers that assign research papers or ask the students to write essays about the whole play or a Macbeth character essay that describes the characters individually. For so long, there is an impressive number of examples of such essays topics, and it seems like everything about the main five characters Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Macduff, Malcolm, and the Three Witches, has already been said.

Although besides being used in education, those Macbeth characters were and still are an inspiration for many filmmakers. For many years the unique and universal theme of Macbeth has been tailored to fit modern tastes. So, let’s see which three Macbeth movie adaptions are the ones that set themselves apart from the rest and are seen as the best.

Macbeth 1948

This great black and white film is directed by Orson Welles, who also plays the main role. Weller mostly kept the same story of the play and made just some minor changes with significant edits. He increased the presence and purpose of the three Witches in the movie to play up the conflict between the pagan believes and early Christianity in Scotland.

 He also emphasizes the violence and shows scenes of Lady Macbeth’s suicide and the final battle when Macbeth is beheaded by Macduff. Welles’s first idea was for the actors to speak with authentic Scottish accents, but the producers insisted that the voices should be dubbed after the film was done.

Macbeth 1971

In the summer of 1969, Sharon Tate, the wife, and muse of Roman Polanski was brutally murdered by a Manson Family cult while being pregnant. And after two years of willowing, Polanski dragged himself back into the world and created one of the best versions of Macbeth. It is an R-rated movie and features plenty of o-screen violence and some nude scenes by Lady Macbeth. Polanski also emphasizes the time passage, and the events of the play span several years, so you can see the characters age over the duration of the movie.

Macbeth 2015

The most recent modern Macbeth movie is directed by Justin Kurdziel. This one was filmed in Scotland, and it starts with the funeral of Macbeth’s dead son. This plot links Macbeth’s thirst for power with the grief over their dead son, making them more sympathetic to the viewers.

 This movie is a joy to watch because of the bleak, misty highlighting landscape, authentic and unique medical samples in the set, etc. And the cinematic effects are amazing, from close-ups of hands and faces to slow-motion battle scenes and blood spurts. Although it is not a full version of Shakespeare’s play, and the story is very changed, it is still recognizable as Macbeth’s story.


The first-ever movie was released back in 1908, and since then, many have tried their hands on creating different versions of Macbeth. Some of them are closer to the text than others. However, the ones above are perfectly adapted the story and show the chemical and tonal character of Shakespeare’s work in fascinating and revealing ways. And most importantly, they show the moral of the story and how a positive trait such as Ambition can have a negative effect on people with various examples.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.