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Tony Grist

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Polanski's Macbeth [Feb. 28th, 2008|10:06 am]
Tony Grist
It says on the packet it was filmed in North Wales. Well, I can see that the beach is probably North Wales but they don't have castles like that in Snowdonia- or do they? I've never been to look so I don't really know, but I'd guess it was Romania or Hungary or somehere like that. It's perched on a hill and it's got pointy roofs like in the Dracula movies. Wherever it is, it's an ace castle.

Odd cast. At least it seems odd in retrospect. Lots of telly actors. And Keith Chegwin as Fleance representing Scotland's glorious future. At one point Cheggers sings an interpolated and anachronistic song- and sings it badly.  And then there's Jon Finch- a great British film star who faded. He's fine here- dark, handsome, screen-filling. Something bad must have happened to him to check his career; I wonder what?

I knew Francsca Annis's brother at school (good bloke!) so I'm always ready to cheer for her. She's lovely. There's a rumour Polanski had them give her a makeover so she looked like Sharon Tate but I hope it's untrue. I don't like the thought of creepy Roman perving all over her. 

I hate Polanski. Always did. Even before we found out he was into slipping qualuudes to 13 year girls. Repulsion is one of the few movies that ever made me feel queasy. Those early films of his- the ones that are most auteurish- Knife in the Water, Cul-de-sac, Repulsion- are empty and nasty and sick. Sick for the sake of being sick- unlike, say, Psycho- where if you listen carefully you can hear the laughter of the cosmos echoing down the corridors.

So I thought I would hate this movie and I didn't. It's quite exciting. The final sword fight is one of the best sword fights ever. And the horsemen with their banners remind me of Kurosawa.  Yes, there's lots of extreme violence and a new, trivialising ending to suggest we're trapped in a cycle of futility but Shakey is essentially wholesome and- while this feels less like one of his plays and more like a medieval epic with an uncommonly good script- having his words on the soundtrack is like there's a brazier in the room and they're throwing herbs on it and aromatic gums and it's making the air all spicey.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2008-02-28 12:31 pm (UTC)
It wasn't this castle, was it?

That's in South Wales.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-02-28 01:24 pm (UTC)
No, it wasn't. The castle in the movie had only one pointy roof.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2008-02-28 01:05 pm (UTC)
Wasn't it filmed at Bamburgh in Northumberland?

I was going to say I'd enjoyed it, but reflection suggests that was Welles' version.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-02-28 01:36 pm (UTC)
There are at least two castles in the movie. Bamburgh must be the big one. Thanks for the identification. The other remains elusive.

So did Polanski use any Welsh locations- or was everything shot in Northumbria?
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2008-02-28 04:47 pm (UTC)
Can't answer that, I'm afraid; I know it as a Northumbrian film, but then from here in the North-East I would, wouldn't I?
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2008-02-28 03:38 pm (UTC)
It takes a director with more talent for demolition than Polanski posses to undo Uncle Will. On a more positive note, Have you seen Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet movie. If not - do - It was luminous and incandescent.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-02-28 04:26 pm (UTC)
I haven't yet.

But we have booked to see David Tennant play the prince at Stratford this summer.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2008-02-28 07:25 pm (UTC)
Lucky you!!!!!!!!!!!
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[User Picture]From: richenda
2008-02-28 08:08 pm (UTC)
There's a weird sort of Dracula construction somewhere along the conwy coast - Victorian Gothic, built, I suppose, by a Victorian holiday maker,
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-02-28 08:37 pm (UTC)
I think I know the one you mean- and, if I'm right, it's not the one in the movie.

The latest research suggests I was misled and the bulk of the filming was done not in Wales but Northumbria.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2008-02-29 12:29 am (UTC)
Those early films of his- the ones that are most auteurish- Knife in the Water, Cul-de-sac, Repulsion- are empty and nasty and sick.

I have always been very fond of The Fearless Vampire Killers, which is a total stitched-up mess of tone and atmosphere—it zigzags unpredictably between parody and maybe-parody and playing it straight—but for whatever reason, it almost all works.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-02-29 10:15 am (UTC)
I saw it when it first came out. I remember the vampire ball was pretty stylish and there was a lot of slapstick. Was it a British film?
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2008-02-29 02:57 pm (UTC)
Was it a British film?

I have no idea. I think it was mostly filmed in Italy.
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