A Month of Duels: Polanski vs. Welles

Both were once much loved and then ultimately cast out by the Hollywood establishment. Both have made enduring classics well-watched by any eager film student, and both had moments of unevenness in their filmic endeavors.

Why would Polanski and Welles ever go mano a mano, you ask? Well, because we like a good fight, and both have versions of Macbeth playing during our Shakespeare Goes Global series.

Welles’ Macbeth was made in the wake of Lady From Shanghai, so it’s definitely from the early days, but it also represents one of Welles first encounters with studio meddling. Interesting related tid: in 1936, Welles was hired by the Works Progress Adminstration to create an all-black version of Macbeth in Harlem, to great critical acclaim. Too bad that version never made it to film, but we are proud to present the director’s cut of Welles’ Macbeth at the Film Society.

Roman Polanski’s 1971 adaptation of Macbeth strove to be historically accurate, and was filmed in striking British landscapes strewn with the ruins of Norman castles. Another interesting factoid: After the film’s release, critic Pauline Kael commented that the slaughter of Lady Macduff and her household appeared to have been staged in an especially lurid manner that evoked the murder of Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate.

Will you be there for this duel? Let us know your early prediction for the winner in the comments.

Welles’s Macbeth: Sat Jul 18: 7

Polanski’s Macbeth: Tue Jul 21: 2 and Wed Jul 22: 8:40 and Sun Jul 26: 8

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