Monday, October 25, 2021

Polanski's Macbeth


This is the first post in a series that will discuss Roman Polanski films after 1969.

Roman Polanski chose Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth as his first project in the months following the murders of his wife and unborn son on August 8, 1969. Apologies for the spoiler but Polanski's first celluloid hero after that grizzly night is a man who is delivered into the world via a bloody cesarean section performed with a sharp knife. The director flashes a baby being removed from his mother's womb across the screen twice during the film.

Funding was a problem from the outset. Shocking, I know. Oh to be a fly on the wall in those pitch meetings. You wanna do what? 

Eventually, Polanski's good buddy Hugh Hefner agreed to float the boat. Columbia Pictures released the film October, 13, 1971. US opening night took place at the Playboy theater in New York on December 20, 1971. No one gave a shit. 

They hit the jackpot with Easy Rider in 1969 but spent three times what they took in over the next three years. With blockbusters like The Brotherhood of Satan, I struggled to understand how Columbia was hemorrhaging money. In fairness, Columbia also released The Last Picture Show in 1971. You should watch that one if you love movies. The film was a commercial and critical success and likely fueled a merger with Warner Bros the same year. 

Definitely do not watch The Last Picture Show if you are opposed to seeing young Cybil Shepherd topless. I know sometimes I trigger readers with my effervescent verve. They told me all about it during my review at blog corporate last week. Made me drive seven hours.


Columbia also released Nicholas and Alexandra in 1971. A box office bomb, the film was nevertheless highly regarded inside the academy, earning six nominations and two awards. Sometimes atta boys are free and sometimes they cost two million bucks. I did not watch this one because I generally stay away from movies where actors display physical intimacy on the poster. Germs and mushiness are no fly zones for this buckaroo. 

The remainder of Columbia's catalogue from 1971 I've never heard of but if there's one you think I should watch, please drop a note in the comments below the ones from the people letting me know I'm a bad writer and etc and I will check it out. 
 

A quick and painless Macbeth refresh. The battle at the beginning of the film is fought between Scottish Highland rebels led by the head of the Macdonald clan, the Irish, and the King of Norway, versus forces commanded by Scotland's rightful King Duncan, the soon to be wretched Macbeth, and a nobleman named Banquo who is so likable and friendly you just know he's doomed.

You can rent or buy the film on YouTube. It's worth both fees imo. 

Here is an awesome side-by-side translation bridging 1606 and now. I'd watch a bit, hit pause, and get caught up on the modern translation. 

I also linked Roger Ebert's review from New Year's Day, 1971. Ebert was a genius. He was an adjunct lecturer and PhD student at the University of Chicago until he became so successful writing film reviews that he was able to escape the soul-draining clutches of academia. I sat for an hour last week reading his columns. Such craft. 

Anyway, you don't need me to summarize Macbeth. The play has been available to the public for the last four hundred and fifteen years and is commonly taught in schools. Plus I provided links. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Polanski's three weird sisters are captivating. Their scenes threaten to steal the show. 

"WHERE HAST THOU BEEN, SISTER?"

"KILLING SWINE!!!" 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Vices are discussed (Modern)...

PRINCE/KING MALCOLM: I know I have so many vices that when people see all of them exposed, evil Macbeth will seem as pure as snow in comparison, and poor Scotland will call him a sweet lamb when they compare him to me and my infinite evils.

Drugs (Modern)...

BANQUO: Were these things we are talking about really here? Or are we both on drugs? 

The weird (Modern)...

DOCTOR: Evil rumors are going around. Unnatural acts will cause supernatural things to happen. 

Guilt (Modern)...

MACBETH (TO THE GHOST): You cannot say I did it! Don't shake your bloody head at me!

Antisemitism (1606): 

THIRD WITCH: Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, witches mummy, maw and gulf, of the ravined salt-sea shark, root of hemlock digged i' th dark, liver of blaspheming Jew...

The self-harm never stops. Polanski assaults himself with this work. Our hero Macduff is asked by future king Malcolm why he (Macduff) fled to England and left his defenseless wife, children, servants, and castle household behind so they were easy victims for Macbeth's evil men. 

All were slaughtered with blades. 


A bit of joy is experienced when Charles Denton Macbeth's head is shown to the crowd!

Have no fear. The actor did not die. 'Twas nothing more than movie magic. Here's our godly sovereign pondering the open-ended invitation Heff gave him for a weekend at the mansion. 

If you have thoughts on the film, I'd love to discuss it. I feel like Polanski punished himself with this project. Listening to the actors repeat those lines until they were perfect had to be brutal. Regardless, the director delivers a great take on one of Shakespeare's most famous works. Definitely worth a rainy afternoon. 

"Out out brief candle..."

35 comments:

SixtiesRockRules! said...

Columbia Pictures' 1971 slate of releases was, with only a few exceptions, pretty damn weak but The Anderson Tapes with sean connery, dyan cannon and christopher walken (in his big-screen debut) is worth checking out.

GreenWhite said...

Thanks, 60's. Perfect rainy day to watch it here, too. Have you ever watched any of the live cams on YouTube on the Virtual Railfan channel? Wonderful backgrounds for indoor days.

Proteus said...

In a fairly dire year for Columbia there was one exceptionally good entry that film buffs still praise: 'Le Genou de Claire' ('Claire's Knee'), √Čric Rohmer's fifth movie in his Contes Moraux (Six Moral Tales) series. But I guess it depends what kind of film you like ...

GreenWhite said...

Hey there, Proteus. I'm always interested in a couple of hours of escape. Thank you. The onset of the transition to mostly indoors and twelve hours of darkness for the next several months is heavy upon me today.

orwhut said...

The mention of Columbia Pictures made me recall an unfavorable article I read recently, about the company's long time head. A different article linked below, says that despite his ways Harry Cohn made Columbia great.
http://www.hollywoodsgoldenage.com/moguls/harry_cohn.html

GreenWhite said...

Thanks, whut. Lots of kids grow up wishing they were stars but a peak behind that curtain often reveals a completely awful world. Not knowing a ton about Polanski's films after the murders, I expected Macbeth to be a Paramount release.

orwhut said...

GreenWhite,
I found the quote I kind of remembered from the article about Harry Cohn.
Red Skelton was outside Cohn's well attended funeral and is supposed to have said, "It proves what Harry always said: Give the public what they want and they'll come out for it."

GreenWhite said...

I love it, whut! I'm on to Polanski's second film. Dude is seriously twisted. He has his reasons but it's still a lot sometimes.

Buntline said...

Being cripplingly cheap, I was forced to find the movie for free;

https://www.schooltube.com/media/1_w85ain1g

Put it on full screen, pop some shag in your pipe, sit back and enjoy.


According to IMDB, and a numerous other sources, "when crew members suggested to Roman Polanski that perhaps the film was too unrealistically gory for its own good, Polanski reportedly replied, "I know violence. You should've seen my house last summer."

Even more dubiously, "the internet" says that the first character that appears after the opening scene, (they're doing witchy stuff), and the opening titles, is supposed to be a CM-a-like. I'm skeptical. It was the early seventies, and a large percentage of the population looked like that anyway.

Those in the UK will be amused to see that the cast includes a young Keith Chegwin, who went on to scale the heights of showbiz by presenting "Cheggers Plays Pop" in the '80s. If you don't give me anyone to track down, this is the sort of garbage I will post. I don't make the rules.

GreenWhite said...

Bunt, I think we're dropping the hammer in throwback MFB style on Bruce Davis next week. I've also been messing around with Talbot's Season of the Witch, and I'm in the early stages of grabbing images of the movie posters & etc for Polanski's What? That flick seems like it is going to be bonkers.

Macbeth was markedly better than I expected. I loved the way he explained the witches disappearing into the ground. And that photo of Jon Finch in the Playboy parka with the crown on his head is one of the coolest photos I've stumbled across in a long time. Polanski met him on a plane and my mind went straight into the gutter when I read that info.

Buntline said...

I found What? online earlier. He was a strange cat alright.

GreenWhite said...

I think I have time to watch it tomorrow.

Doug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug said...

I'm kinda surprised that these people got so much out of Bruce Davis during this interview with him just 2 weeks ago!

Apparently Bruce had just had hip surgery so the painkillers as well as his other health issues find him a bit confused at times but, overall, this is quite the chat!

I don't recall hearing anything like this from Bruce in decades.

Approx 31 minutes in length


https://youtu.be/xn2PIbkgvmM

Sorry for the diversion off topic but, I thought some of you may find this interesting

Doug said...

However...the interviewer is awful and, not very knowledgeable about things related to Bruce's involvement in the case.

After all, this is religious/GOD programming.

Jay said...

I remember my 10th grade English teacher showing us this film when we were studying Macbeth. I had probably read through Helter Skelter and Ed Sanders’s book about a dozen times each by that point, and I saw the parallels to the murders right away. It’s a very good movie.
Polanski was a strange little man for sure.

GreenWhite said...

Doug - I actually have a review of that interview queued up for next week but your review here is probably better lol. Fuck Bruce Davis. He's okay in the eyes of his god now and understands if people are mad at the fella he used to be but everyone needs to know he's found the Lord. Yeah Bruce whatever get fucked. Fill in the blanks so all those ghosts can join their afterlives.

Jay - That's a cool teacher. I would've lost my mind over naked Lady Macbeth at 15 or 16. Those fancy effects in the dagger scene must have had your class in stitches.

Bunt - I'm going in on What? this morning. Hit me up on my email at the top of the blog page when you watch it and tell me what you think.

Doug said...

Looking forward to your review and, the thoughts of others on this interview.

Who knew (aside from some Russian dude) that Charlie "found Jesus" resulting in him stopping taking money from people and, stop taking visitors after his diagnosis...

Why am I skeptical of this occurring?

GreenWhite said...

Hi, Doug. The post wasn't all that great anyway. We can totally talk about it here. Bruce directly contradicts himself 2x in that interview that I can remember offhand. First Bruce says that Charlie told his Charlie's Aunt Nancy got him right with Jesus early on. Of course we know Nancy is not Charlie's aunt. Bruce then turns around and says Charlie only ever wanted to do the devil stuff.

And then he says the victims' families deserve the truth. Dude was saved for two years and never said a word about where Shorty was buried. Something else made me angry too in there but I forget right now lol.

Bruce really lays down the awww shucks hillbilly routine in that interview. He had three years at big university before heading west. I want to say Alabama but I could have the school wrong. He puts on like he just crawled out of the holler while talking to the Ear Hustle crew.

Bruce gets to be disingenuous until the day he dies about all this and still think he's right with God. Shame on him.

GreenWhite said...

*him

Matthew said...

Four great movies of 1971
Straw dogs
Herold and maude
McCabe and Mrs Miller
Play misty for me

GreenWhite said...

Thank you, Matthew :)

SixtiesRockRules! said...

Since we are now bringing up titles of worthy 1971 films issued or distributed by studios other than Columbia, I would certainly recommend both walkabout and a new leaf.

Doug said...

Harold and Maude is brilliant

Terrapin said...

sorry for the off topic but has anyone else noticed Bret's old channel has been hacked on youtube?

GreenWhite said...

Hi Terrapin - Yeah I noticed. Kept the same profile photo too lol.

Yo, film buffs, I've watched Polanski's What? about halfway thru. Anyone else interested in watching and giving thoughts for the review?

Doug said...

The brutal "cheats" notifications drive me crazy

I just hope that the hacker doesn't mess with Brett's content

grimtraveller said...

Doug said:

I'm kinda surprised that these people got so much out of Bruce Davis during this interview with him just 2 weeks ago! I don't recall hearing anything like this from Bruce in decades

Yeah, he has tended to be rather tight-lipped down the years. A lot of stuff does come from him in his parole hearings, but of course, the direction is controlled very much by the questions the board asks. I think he’s also learned that the less you say, the less can be used against you. There’s an irony to that that shouldn’t be lost on those interested in the case.
I still marvel at his 1993 hearing though. That was the one where I was first aware of him describing Watson’s part in the murder of Shorty, but that was less the whammer than the board asking him questions about Watson, his thoughts on how long he thought Watson should serve {he was draconian !} and things of that ilk. I wish I could find the transcript of that hearing. It used to be on Cats77’s site. I’ve not seen it since the site came out of cyberspace. I read Bruce’s views on Watson very early on in my journey through the Manson blogs and to a large extent, it helped frame some of the way I thought on the case. It gave me reason to look very critically at Tex’s 2 books and his parole hearings. It also gave me an insight into Bruce. I had to view him two ways, as someone telling the truth and as someone not telling the truth.
It’s been real !

Apparently Bruce had just had hip surgery so the painkillers as well as his other health issues find him a bit confused at times

Not to mention his age, plus the fact that much of what questioners may want to know, he may not be actually able to answer. There can sometimes be this underlying assumption from those of us that have studied, or are interested in, the case, that pretty much everyone associated with the murders knows absolutely every detail about everything. Not to say that certain people haven’t held back on some things over the years, but I reckon that there’s lots they simply can’t know.

However...the interviewer is awful and, not very knowledgeable about things related to Bruce's involvement in the case

In the comments, one commenter makes a similar point and one of the questioners says that in asking a particular question for which he was being criticized, he was actually fishing, to see if Bruce would inadvertently drop some info.
I don’t think the interviewers’ primary interest is the case. I think they have a very surface {if that} knowledge. The main emphasis was not the case itself, but rather, how a man serving a life sentence for murder can carry on with a life in Christ and do so with any modicum of joy.

After all, this is religious/GOD programming

That’s what it is. Its primary aim is demonstrating that God is a God of the second chance. To be honest, I’d say that anyone that has read some of Bruce’s parole transcripts will learn very little that they don’t already know, unless they’re into covid vaccines in prison as a hot topic.
Personally, as I have interests in both dimensions, I found it quite interesting.

grimtraveller said...

GreenWhite said:

Fuck Bruce Davis. He's okay in the eyes of his god now and understands if people are mad at the fella he used to be but everyone needs to know he's found the Lord

I guess one has to look at it from Bruce’s point of view. Few others are honestly going to understand where he’s coming from.
When you say “okay in the eyes of his god now” that needs a lot of unpacking. He’s been forgiven by God and God loves him dearly, same as he does you. Being forgiven by God {if one believes the Christian way, which clearly many don’t} is no small thing but most importantly, it’s God’s choice. Indeed, the invitation is God’s in the first place. So when God sets the conditions for being OK with him, it’s no credit to Bruce for accepting. As far as life on earth is concerned, Bruce Davis will always be a murderer. But God’s pad will be chock-full of people that have gone against God, much of which will involve having done awful things to fellow humans.
The reason I say that looking at it from Bruce’s viewpoint is important is because I’m interested in what Bruce is getting at by talking of God and forgiveness. He’s essentially saying, “I know I’m a screw-up. I know I’ve done wrong and I know I don’t deserve any better than what LE has dealt me. I’m guilty and nothing can change that. I don’t expect you to forgive me and I can’t demand that you should forgive. Fortunately [for me], God has forgiven me. It’s not like I twisted his arm or had to persuade him. The offer came from him.”
Of course, many have a problem with that. After all, he’s a murderer. But the reality is that Bruce Davis has spent over half a century incarcerated. He hasn’t gotten away with anything. His situation isn’t that he escaped death. And it’s important to him to let people know of God’s goodness. If he’s genuine, he has nothing to lose. He sees it as some kind of demonstration that he's not Bruce '89 anymore.

Yeah Bruce whatever get fucked. Fill in the blanks so all those ghosts can join their afterlives

In a way this highlights a problem within those interested in TLB ~ we assume a lot about Bruce Davis. There are people out there that think he’s hiding all kinds of stuff, or that he’s the Zodiac killer or that he killed James and Doreen, the Scientology followers, or that he high tailed it to England and murdered Joel Pugh or that he shot Zero. Supposition is one thing. Supposition with evidence that could point in a particular direction, is another. While I agree that most things a convict says should be treated with suspicion, equally {and difficultly} it should not be assumed that everything they say is a lie.

grimtraveller said...

GreenWhite said:

Bruce directly contradicts himself..in that interview that I can remember offhand. First Bruce says that Charlie told him Charlie's Aunt Nancy got him right with Jesus early on. Of course we know Nancy is not Charlie's aunt

But that’s not really a contradiction, is it ? Firstly, he hasn’t spoken with Charlie in a couple of years short of 50 years. And so if Charlie told him about Nancy, it would have been more than half a century ago. I think forgetting the exact details of a conversation like that is more than understandable. We do the same thing as bloggers on the case ~ and we have the information to hand. Is it contradicting oneself to call someone’s Grandma their aunt, when you’ve not seen them or spoken with them in nearly half a century ? Bruce is 79 and let’s get real, many memories are on the way downhill at that age.
The real import of Bruce’s statement is that early on in his life, someone taking care of Charlie kept him well-informed about Jesus. In George Stimson’s book, Charlie talks about her and her Christian influence.

Bruce then turns around and says Charlie only ever wanted to do the devil stuff

That’s not a contradiction, that’s a reality ! It’s a reality for millions of people that have passed through Christian homes or Christian schools or Christian institutions. It’s a reality for zillions of people that are Christians. And part of being mature is knowing how to handle that and what to do with and about temptation.

And then he says the victims' families deserve the truth. Dude was saved for two years and never said a word about where Shorty was buried

Two observations I’ll make on that. The first one is that one never gets the impression that his family were desperately looking for him. It appears {from things one of his ex-wives said} that he was right out of their lives. When his body did turn up, it wasn’t buried by any of them. That may indicate how much concern they really did have.
Secondly, the impression I got, right from 1978, when I first read HS, is that it was Clem that came back at night and buried the body so it may actually be that Bruce didn’t actually know the exact whereabouts. There had been attempts to dig for the body prior to 1977 so the general area was known, yet no body was found.
Suffice it to say, Bruce participated in Shorty’s murder and got his just deserts.
But even supposing he did know where the body was buried and he’d been a Christian for 2 years, that doesn’t make a person perfect overnight. There are so many changes one is having to process and deal with that it’s not for anyone else to say what should and shouldn’t be done and in which order. One could just as easily observe that by not saying exactly where the body was, he was seriously damaging his chance of parole, particularly when one recalls that 8 years after Steve Grogan showed LE where the body was, he walked free.

Bruce really lays down the awww shucks hillbilly routine in that interview. He had three years at big university before heading west…..He puts on like he just crawled out of the holler while talking

That’s the way he talks. He was born in the deep south, raised in the deep south and went to university in Tennessee. He’s literally a southern man. I know people from many countries that have been in England anything from 30~50 years and they sound like they only arrived 3 weeks ago.

grimtraveller said...

GreenWhite said:

Bruce gets to be disingenuous until the day he dies about all this and still think he's right with God. Shame on him

Well, if that’s true, shame will be the least of his problems !
When all is said and done though, there’s a lot more said than done !
What exactly do you think he’s being disingenuous about ?

Doug said:

Who knew (aside from some Russian dude) that Charlie "found Jesus" resulting in him stopping taking money from people and, stop taking visitors after his diagnosis…

Yeah...all I can really say on that is, who can tell ? Throughout history, there have been, what are known as ‘foxhole conversions’, people making a commitment to Christ on their deathbed or close to it. Much of the time, it’s impossible to verify. There again, even in the prime of one’s life, there has to be a pretty robust and thorough examination of a person claiming they’re a Christian, do the actions of their life match up ? And that’s not something that can be ascertained in 5 minutes.
Personally, I hope Charlie really did make his peace with Christ in the way that’s acceptable to Jesus but it’s impossible to say. It’s a lot easier to speak about the matter in relation to Charles Watson, Susan Atkins, Dianne Lake, Catherine Share and Bruce simply because there were/are so many more years, decades even, to gauge their growth or lack thereof.

Why am I skeptical of this occurring?

I don’t blame you for being sceptical. Who wouldn’t be ? I’m not altogether sure how the news would have been funnelled out, though. Had it been 30, 40 years ago, I can see it making the news. And doubtless, the church would have made heavy weather of it, the way it happened with the likes of Bob Dylan and Susan Atkins. Rarely a good thing, in my opinion, until the Christian in question has had a long while to bed in, make mistakes without the glare of publicity and mature a little.

GreenWhite said...

Hi, Grim. Welcome back. I just don't buy it with Bruce. I'm well-versed in hillbilly dialects and people who go to large state universities have subtle differences in the way they talk which distinguishes them from guys who come out of the holler once a year. Just like people who go to Harvard from the South don't sound like the people who sing Rockytop on fall Saturdays in Knoxville. But I actually don't care.

Disingenuous might not be the right word. Maybe it is though. I dunno. I'm a religious studies hobbyist and my views of his brand of Christianity likely affect my ability to develop empathy for him.

Oh. I took "devil stuff" as worship etc. Not sinning as it's defined in church.

grimtraveller said...

GreenWhite said...

my views of his brand of Christianity likely affect my ability to develop empathy for him

Much jailhouse Christianity {especially in America at that period} is based on an era that was bygone even as it was happening ! But then, I would say that.
Though I myself am in Christ, I totally get why many people have issues with murderers telling the rest of the world that God has forgiven them and that they also need to get their sins forgiven and get to it with Jesus. Personally, though I consider all Christians as my kinfolk, there are plenty of aspects of the varying shades that not only do I not agree with, but abhor.
But then, I could say the same about us here, or English people, or Liverpool football club supporters or any group I'm part of. And daresay many would feel that about me too.
That said, on these pages, often when this topic has arisen, it's often one-sided and it's only fair to put the other side.

I took "devil stuff" as worship etc. Not sinning as it's defined in church

Naw, he definitely meant sinning.
Mind you, there's even nuances there, because what his Grandma regarded as the Jesus way wasn't often that at all {although I can see why many of that era and this regarded it so}, and what she would have regarded as sinning wasn't always that, either.

GreenWhite said...

Grim, I have an email address at the top of the main page here. I'm paraphrasing Robert Price when I say this but my atheism, on good days mythicism, is rather a reluctant conclusion reached after years of Near East and pagan studies than any presupposition (arrogant or otherwise) I might've had.

I'm sure most here don't want to read what hopefully can turn into a long and winding discussion even with the volatile subject matter. But I'd love to discuss offline Christ quoting The Baccae at the moment of Paul's conversion, and lots from Matthew, zombies, the tomb guards, etc etc, using history and not apologist literature if you're interested.

And it won't be a contest to out-witty you or any of the like. I greatly and deeply miss having someone to talk to in my head at night, and also have an interest in what makes Christianity work for others. The form and function arguments to more and more admitted clear plagiarisms leaves me wanting more depth in the explanation than provided by apologists such as McDowell and Zacharias et al.

Philo, Pliny, Persesus, I think the list is close to 200 first century writers who never mention Christ at all or as savior. Rabbi Singer today points out many issues in the Crucifixion and Resurrection as does Jonathan MS Pearse.

I just have so many questions if you want to talk...

*if there are any typos in this I'm leaving them. I am the typo king and Blogger enjoys revealing my true idiocy to the Manson public.

GreenWhite said...

7 Nov 2021
Sunday

If anyone is on West Coast time or stays up later in other time zones and wants to hang out tonight, I'm a guest host on The Paulcast tonight at 730 pm PST.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOxfXLe8Y8p7RVwPUaHWtCg

My discussion will center on unique perspectives, research methodologies, and cognitive dissonance in the Manson study.