Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Gold's "Macbeth" CSI: Sara and Conner

CSI Presentation: RUPERT GOOLD’S “MACBETH” (2010)
Sara Van Velkinburgh, Conner Reed

  • Productions
    • London’s West End in 2007, Broadway in 2008, then adapted for film in 2010
  • Stalinist Russia, 1940s
    • Goold: “Shakespeare is illuminated by a socially specific environment”
    • Macbeth’s hat when he speaks to Banquo about the feast
    • Posters of Macbeth’s face thrown up about the country; his public addresses
  • Goold’s reading of spy novels translated into his fascination with the ways a police state emerges
  • Patrick Stewart and his peers’ old age gives them a particularly strong grasp on the setting–they lived through this historical period
  • Goold fascinated with horror/slasher films
    • Interested in the seventies slasher horror films, because he felt there was a hole since the Japanese horror movement
    • Witches
  • Welbeck Abbey
    • Entirely set on location at this estate
    • Tunnels and bunkers let much of the action take place “under the surface”
  • Food and feast as hunger/appetitie
    • Preparing feast while terror grips the country
    • Macbeth pours himself wine during “If it were done when ‘tis done” speech–blood = wine?
  • Red
    • Links Stalinism with the blood on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s hands
    • Aggressively red lighting in bedchamber
    • As Macbeth’s ambition increases
  • Age gap between Kate Fleetwood and Patrick Stewart
    • Gives weight to the idea that Lady Macbeth is a “trophy wife” clinging to her position of power
  • Kitchen
    • Goold sees Macbeths as a domestic couple
    • Violence–In kitchen scene, fish’s head is chopped, the chicken plucked, hog’s severed head on a platter
  • Public fear of Macbeth
    • Fleance visibly agitated when Macbeth joins him in the kitchen
  • Severed bloody hand
    • When Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches, one is holding a severed bloody hand; links to the one bloody hand Macbeth shows the audience after committing the murders
  • X-Men and Star Trek franchises
    • Patrick Stewart plays rational, level-headed, diplomatic characters
    • Appeal of watching him “lose his cool”
  • Stock footage of WWII
    • Banquo on train like Stalin
    • Colors of their uniform, all of their hats, footage that is intercut
  • Many early shots (especially Macbeth and Banquo’s emergence from the elevator) echo David Fincher’s “Se7en”, which details a serial killer whose murders follow a careful moral code
  • Hospital visuals and the all-white dressings of the witches recall early 2000s horror films like “The Ring”
  • Both Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart have played Macbeth; they play moral opposites in the X-Men franchise
    • Perhaps a statement of this particular adaptation’s polar opposition to the reverent McKellan version
  • George Orwell, 1984:
    • Full-sized images of Stalin, cameras in hallways (near the beginning)
    • Paranoid atmosphere from the beginning, makes the reference come full circle
  • Pervasiveness of the knife
    • Symbolizes lack of security around any given corner–Fleance becomes agitated in the kitchen, surrounded by knives

Works Cited
Brantley, Ben. "Something Wicked This Way Comes." The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Feb. 2008. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <>.
John, Wyver. "Essential Media about the Arts." Illuminations Films. N.p., 18 July 2011. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <>.
W., Mara. "Rupert Goold's MacBeth." HIs Hour Upon the Stage. 16 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Oct.

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