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"You must write on one literary text AND one cinematic text from the following list. If you deal with a literary text that has been adapted to cinema you do not need to consider that adaptation, although there are topics that allow you to do so. Give roughly equal treatment to each text."

Texts that you can write about in this essay:

James Joyce, ‘The Dead’

John Huston (dir.), The Dead

George Orwell: ‘Shooting an Elephant’

Juan Pablo Rothie (dir.), Shooting an Elephant

Spike Jonze (dir.), Adaptation

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Rupert Goold (dir.), Macbeth

Justin Kurzel (dir.), Macbeth

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

Alfonso Cuaron (dir.), Children of Men

1.How is the relationship between life and death evoked and evaluated in the literary and cinematic versions of ‘The Dead’?

2.Consider the interaction of past, present and future in the literary and cinematic versions of ‘The Dead’?

3.Compare the treatment of sexuality in terms of different forms of power in the play Macbeth and one or both of the filmed adaptations.

4.What is seen and not seen by various characters is critical to the narrative, psychology and thematic comlexity of Macbeth. Deal with one or more of these aspects in critically comparing the play and one or both of the filmed adaptations.

5.Consider the importance of writing and/or language in any one piece of literature and one piece of cinema.

6.Consider the importance of images real and imagined in any one piece of literature and one piece of cinema.

7.Do films have a narrator in the same way that a novel or a short story have narrators? Examine this question using any one piece of literature and any one piece of cinema.

8.‘We have to realise that we all write in a genre, and we must find our originality within that genre.’ Use this quotation to consider genre in any one piece of literature and any one piece of cinema. You do not need to deal with Adaptation in your argument.

9.Genre has been understood as a system of classification, a set of rules and conventions, a form of evaluation, and as necessary to making informed critical judgements. Explore the value of one or more of these conceptions of genre to any one piece of literature and any one piece of cinema.

10.Critically compare the importance of setting in any one piece of literature and any one piece of cinema. You might consider this topic in terms of geography and/or history, or any other category you choose to designate.

Discussion

Macbeth is perhaps the most frequently adapted stage production of Shakespeare and has traditionally been a favorite directors who like to think out of the box. Of the numerous film adaptations of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Rupert Goold’s modernization of the plot is considered one of the most successful attempts at Shakespearean film adaptation (Singh and Arora, 2015). Despite sharing many ideologies and a similar storyline with Shakespeare’s Macbeth, there exists the underlying differences in setting, ambience and characters in the story. The film features a suffocating environment with its candid footages of vicious executions and unscrupulous minds that makes the audience gasp for breadth. Since a whole lot of research goes into the comparing and contrasting of film adaptations of theatre, for this essay, it would be interesting to consider the narrative, psychology and thematic complexity of the original and the adapted productions. The purpose of the paper is to analyze the perspectives of the characters in the play/film and identify the extent to which what is seen and not seen by them as crucial to the plot development and thematic structure.

Starting off with the eponymous hero himself, Patrick Stewart as Macbeth is vigorous, virile and deeply inflicted with the madness of overreaching. His role is exceptional enough to perturb the audience with actions as regular as cutting a sandwich, but what leaves an indelible mark in their minds is his intriguing recreation of the dagger scene. The slow pace of delivery, the diabolical howling sound, the lowered voice and the ambitious, emotionless eyes had everything in them to inform the audience of the dark happenings (Martin, 2017). Remembering the Elizabethan production, the scene had Macbeth hallucinating an air-drawn dagger, with blood dripping from its blade. Macbeth’s conjecture of the blood being that of Duncan’s is a clear indication of his disturbed psyche.  Rupert Goold smartly utilizes a direct camera view for reconstructing the scene. The slow zooming in on the character allows the audience a highly satisfying view of the actor’s brilliance. The scene ends with Macbeth walking out of a tunnel, the lights going off as he strides towards the darkness. The background music slows down, starts to reverberate and the audience is made aware of his murderous intents. The means of conveying to the audience, the internal workings of the protagonist’s mind have changed in course of time, although its motive and psychological implications bear uncanny similarities (Martin, (2017). However, Macbeth either in theatre or in film, would not shine as much as he does without the conniving Lady Macbeth. Goold choses to portray her as pure evil and Kate Fleetwood does excellent justice to the director’s perspective. The image of Goold’s Lady Macbeth with her protruding bone structure, her high cheek and yawning eye sockets, has the potential to drain all positive energies of the onlooker. Her manner is icy, her demeanor rigid and unfeeling and what she sees in Duncan on the night of his murder is crucial to the psychological understanding and the thematic interpretation of the production. In Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth had to refrain from committing the deed herself as she saw her father in the king. This bespeaks of her unstable nature and her inefficacy in living up to her words. This same Lady had shunned her husband for changing his mind about the murder, and swore to have dashed a nibbling infant against a wall to remain faithful towards a pledge. Like Shakespeare, Goold depicts the downfall of Lady Macbeth into insanity quite painfully, making her comprehensible human being who is deserving of sympathy towards the end (Neilson, 2014).

The film is set in the era of Cold War and all the characters take on different identities. No other supernatural creations of Shakespeare is as unnerving and appealing like the weird sisters. The film portrays the witches as maids and servants although they do not act as either of the professions. The audience is given a bitter taste of their gruesome nature at the very outset with the camera’s focus on the narrow corridor of the bunker’s, the three bizarre womanly shapes twitching, twisting and high-pitched hissing. Abiding by the proposition that the witches in Shakespeare represented fate, it only makes sense to suggest that the entire plot is laid out and controlled by fate. In theatre, the weird sisters constantly lurks behind the curtains and appears in prime time. They were present in Macbeth’s kitchen during Duncan’s arrival, served the food at the banquet when Macbeth had seen Banquo’s ghost and performed necromantic rituals for prophesying Macbeth’s future. In Goold’s adaptation, the disconcerting set design of Anthony Ward places the actions in a hellish underground kitchen where actors enter and exit frequently via a creepy service life that has clanging metal doors. Initially, the film introduces the witches as nurses employed at a field hospital, their transformation to silent and sullen household stuff had premonitory hints. Goold’s production was inspired both by Stalin and Orwell (1984), demonstrating how the protagonist builds a perilous reign of terror, in which random killings, surveillance and physical tortures are routine. The deeply disconcerting electronic score by Adam Cork and the relentless shuddering coup de theatre comes together to make the film a classic, comparable with works by Tarantino. Although some scenes cross over the edge of dark comedy, like the one where the witches rap their spell, the scene plot lapses into gimmickry (Bradley, 2015).

The fluctuating relationships between the Macbeths comprise the central focus of both the theatrical and the cinematic productions (Howard and O’Conner, 2013). Initially, the film’s Lady Macbeth is a titillating, scheming siren, who lures her husband to committing murder. She seems to be the controlling force of the marriage, and Macbeth appears to be a mere puppet in her hands. The gradual shift in the power balance becomes important to consider in the context of the discussion. Macbeth who was once an honest soldier and a reliable subject of the king sprawls towards an ignominious, treacherous monster before the audience. He only wades deeper into the wrongdoings as an attempt to subdue the nightmares (Stone, 2016). Meanwhile, his decrepit and rejected wife descends into madness. Further, Goold manipulates gazes so that the viewers can experience Macbeth’s consciousness and thoughts. Implementing symbolism and staging devices enables Goold to effectively effuse more terror into the film. Through the evocative background music, the croaking of raven, Goold manages to make his audience experience the same angst and agitation felt by the characters. Strange effects, blending the supernatural and the natural, characterize the witch scenes (Martin, 2017). They were endowed with a reanimating gift, the edge between magic and science is blurred. Goold has successfully foreshadowed Macbeth’s mental deterioration by emphasizing his dependency on other characters of the story and his impotency in taking rational decisions. The witches, like Lady Macbeth manipulates him, like in the original text. In both the productions Macbeth allows himself to be lured sexually and mentally by his wife who, identifying his weaknesses, toys with his sentiments (Theile, 2016). Goold’s Macbeth is eternally cursed by a deepness of vision, an innate ability of conjuring up the undulating consequences of the grave actions he continues to undertake, leading him to the austere grounds of existential sparseness. The director and his actor make clear that the protagonist is not killed by Macduff in reality, but is driven to catastrophe by his own calling. His nihilistic nature drives him to perils.

The spiteful and stark world surrounding this self-crushing brooder is quite conspicuous, owing to its displayed creepiness. There is no denying that the 2010 production features a Macbeth who is a suitable product of his time and place. The institutional sterility of Anthony Ward’s set exudes a grimy feeling (Eckhardt, 2017). It is presented to the audience has the last-hope ward at hospital, with an emasculated and dying young soldier sees his life being measured out by medicinal experts. Moreover, the set appears to be a charnel house with a backstage industrial elevator for ominous use, the dining and the kitchen serving as interrogation rooms. It was only convenient to introduce the witches as devilish nurses who speed the lives of patients to their imminent deaths. In Shakespeare too, the witches were associated with all things wicked, dark and precarious (Lorch, 2016). It is their vision, their ability to foresee the future that propels Macbeth to embark upon the nasty journey, ultimately sealing his doom. It is important to note that the witches see what Macbeth cannot see, hence his dependency on the creatures of darkness. What is not seen by Macbeth becomes the driving force of his paranoia (Iuga, 2018), the root of all his misgivings and the reason for his wrongdoings. Lady Macbeth sees is her husband what Macbeth herself fails to identify and this is indicative of his unsound and unstable nature. His vision is blinded with false ambition and he gropes in the dark for survival (Altschuler, 2015).

The banquet scene of Act III is an amazing coup de theatre, both in Shakespeare and in Goold, with Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo, shaking is “gory locks” at him. In a slight deviation from the original text, Macbeth in the film sees the ghost twice; once through his own eyes and once through the vision of his guests. This reenactment might be perfectly detailed and devilishly entertaining, it is far from necessary. The actor of the film Macbeth makes clear that the character sees and hears things others cannot, although he does not have the insight to the self, which is the source of all his tribulations (Tassi, 2018). The original text has Macbeth begging forgiveness for his murder of the Cawdor’s Thane, and submits to his fate being uncertain of the newly bestowed role. He appears to be more sensitive and emotional towards his surrounding which is in sharp contrast to the film version. Goold chooses to modernize the character of Macbeth by modeling him on various historical figures of the 20th century like Hitler of Nazi Germany, Stalin of Soviet Union and Mussolini of Italy. Another noteworthy aspect is that Goold sticks to the Shakespearean dialect despite the contemporary and heavily modernized setting. He omits few lines and incorporates some scene shifts that allows him to play with all sorts of new ideas. Stewart is undeniably charismatic as an actor and aptly recognizes Macbeth’s tragedy. The soliloquies delivered beautifully by the actor reflects a man who has realized the extent to which his life has been rendered futile by his own misdoings. The outstanding performances of the supporting roles deserve equal mention. The Porter, Ross and Macduff were convincing enough to make the audience squeal with terror. The demonically powerful porter scene is radically different from the original text, where Shakespeare had included the scene to serve as a comic relief to the plot mounting in grim violence. Being true to its source, the film makes the roles of the supporting characters and what is seen or not seen by them of central importance to the theme and the understanding of the plot. The changes made are necessary in terms of context and the modern setting. The most distinguishing alteration is the fact that unlike the play, the film does not shy away from the gore, the brutal executions and the mass killings. The Elizabethan stage has restrictions regarding the enactment of violence on stage but directors of the 21st century have the liberty of screening such extremities.

Conclusion

It must be acknowledged that adaptations and translations cannot be good or bad, only different and have to be perceived in different colors. Although it is necessary to have adequate knowledge of the source text before watching the adapted version, any comparison between the two might be inconclusive and ambiguous since different people have different takes on a particular piece of work and strict adherence to the source material is both difficult and uncalled for. No other Shakespearean tragedy has been as frequently adapted as Macbeth and it is interesting to note that neither of them bear much resemblance to each other. The essay accurately illustrates the tactics employed by the director to impart new colors into a popular text.

References

Altschuler, B. E. (2015). Macbeth and Political Corruption. In Shakespeare and Politics (pp. 37-56). Routledge.

Books, M., & Shakespeare, W. (2013). The tragedy of Macbeth. Sweet Cherry Publishing.

Bradley, A. C. (2015). From Shakespearean Tragedy. In Macbeth (pp. 45-57). Routledge.

Cartmell, D., & Whelehan, I. (2013). Adaptations: from text to screen, screen to text. Routledge.

Eckhardt, H. (2017). Power of Fate Through Light and Sound in Rupert Goold’s Macbeth.

Howard, J. E., & O'Connor, M. F. (Eds.). (2013). Shakespeare reproduced: the text in history and ideology. Routledge.

Iuga, D. (2018). Nuances and Complexities: A Performance Study of William Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Kumar, V. Rupert Goold’s Eponymous Adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Lorch, J. (2016). “Hie Thee Hither”: Female Sexuality as the “Supernatural Solicitor” in Goold’s Macbeth (2010).

Martín, V. H. (2017). Rupert Goold's" Macbeth"(2010): Surveillance society and society of control. SEDERI: yearbook of the Spanish and Portuguese Society for English Renaissance Studies, (27), 81-103.

Martín, V. H. (2017). Hybridity in John Wyver's BBC Shakespeare films: a study of Gregory Doran's Macbeth (2001), Hamlet (2009) and Julius Caesar (2012) and Rupert Goold’s Macbeth (2010) (Doctoral dissertation, UNED. Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (España)

Neilson, A. (2014). Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness. A&C Black.

Singh, R., & Arora, M. K. (2015). Three UK based Film-Adaptations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth: A Comparative Analysis. Int Martín, V. H. (2017). Hybridity in John Wyver's BBC Shakespeare films: a study of Gregory Doran's Macbeth (2001), Hamlet (2009) and Julius Caesar (2012) and Rupert Goold’s Macbeth (2010) (Doctoral dissertation, UNED. Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (España)).ernational Journal Of English And Education, 387-391.

Stone, A. K. (2016). Screening the Stage: Film Adaptations of Shakespeare that Originate on Stage 1995-2015 (Doctoral dissertation, University of Otago).

Tassi, M. A. (2018). Rapture and Horror: A Phenomenology of Theatrical Invisibility in Macbeth. Explorations in Renaissance Culture, 44(1), 1-26.

Theile, V. (2016). Demonising Macbeth. In Magical Transformations on the Early Modern English Stage (pp. 87-102). Routledge.

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My Assignment Help (2021) Comparing Narrative, Psychology, And Thematic Complexity In Macbeth And Goold's Adaptation Essay. [Online]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/ephuma244-literature-and-film-genre-and-adaptation/cinematic-adaptation-of-play.html
[Accessed 25 July 2024].

My Assignment Help. 'Comparing Narrative, Psychology, And Thematic Complexity In Macbeth And Goold's Adaptation Essay.' (My Assignment Help, 2021) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/ephuma244-literature-and-film-genre-and-adaptation/cinematic-adaptation-of-play.html> accessed 25 July 2024.

My Assignment Help. Comparing Narrative, Psychology, And Thematic Complexity In Macbeth And Goold's Adaptation Essay. [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2021 [cited 25 July 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/ephuma244-literature-and-film-genre-and-adaptation/cinematic-adaptation-of-play.html.

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