I have thoroughly analysed “Act two Scene one” from the screenplay “Macbeth – On the Estate.” Shot by shot I have discussed the style and structure noting any significant visual and structural devices. The film is based in the present day on a run down council estate in Birmingham. The characters now play drug dealers and rent boys (hooligans) instead of soldiers and kings like in the real play; however the story/plot is identical as is the dialog. As the characters and the events of the film are appealing to our younger population I believe that the film targets modern day teenagers as its audience. The screenplay fits into this genre well as there is a lot of violence and aggression linked into the story, making it fast moving and dramatic. Therefore even though the dialog is still in very old-fashioned English the story remains relatively easy to follow due to the detailed descriptive nature of the characters and scenes.
The very first shot in “Act two Scene one” is an exterior spectacle of the full moon on a dark night. The moon fills almost the whole of the screen making its impression as apparent as possible. The moon symbolizes Luna which represents the Greek Selene; Goddess of the moon, signifying the state of mind; lunacy, a clear-mindedness state of insanity. During the shot a small cloud passes over the lower half of the moon, not interrupting but gracefully drawing attention to this soundless placid state of mind.
While we remain in our clear-mindedness state we are brought into a world of all things to which we know are bad. This is our first introduction to colour so far, indicating that this is something new and important. We see a deck of cards and some money, this represents gambling and the pile of cigarettes which are notoriously unhealthy and eventually lethal. The increasing number of cigarette butts demonstrates that our unidentified gamblers have been there for some time and are in a considerably bored state of mind. As the audience we realise that these people don’t have anything better to do, we assume they are unfriendly unemployed gangsters.
Next we find out that it is in fact Macbeth’s game with his party associates. However they are not interested in the game anymore there attention is drawn to the deceitful way in which Macduff’s wife is dancing with Rosse. In the shot the panoramic way in which Macduff’s wife stands before Rosse with the faint light behind them gives the affect that they are as one, they are bonding. The shots cut quickly first to the aggressive and dispirited looks on both Macduff and his accomplice Malcolm’s faces. Next Banquo’s face of surprise as Rosse and Macduff’s wife in the background seem to be getting yet even closer.
Macduff leaps from his seat and goes straight for his wife, thus implying that she was most to blame for their acts of indecency and adultery. Also her being the smaller of the two, Macduff can show his power over her, to display his position/rank over his submissive wife. He then proceeds to throw her to the ground, standing over her like the pack leader in a pack of wolves. On this he realises his aggressive nature and forgives her, she re-acquires her baby from Lady Macbeth and follows Macduff and her older son out of the room, this is simply a way of removing them from the scene, just like the directions in the book.
From this scene of violence and aggression we are taken across the room to Duncan, sleeping soundly on the sofa. This area of the room is particularly dark and mysterious, with Duncan’s wealth around his neck in the form of a solid gold chain he sleeps as though nothing could harm him, and then from the left of the screen an unidentified hand appears to reach over to him. It is then recognised that the hand belonged to Lady Macbeth, and she was attempting to pick him up to move him. In doing so the cutting becomes very quick and Lady Macbeth appeared to throw Duncan across the room, this shows that there is more to her than meets the eye.
It could suggest that after her spell to unsex her she has inherited the strength of a man, this would introduce certain ideas about the supernatural and witchcraft. However, the scene proceeds upstairs into the bedroom where Lady Macbeth stands before a light, filling the whole screen, displaying the overwhelming power of her dark side. She continues to tuck Duncan in. As he is seen lying in his bed asleep, a sheen of sweat is covering his entire face presenting signs that he is uncomfortable or nervous about the situation, his covers seem to reach up just below his chin as if it was to mark his neck for a beheading.
Lady Macbeth goes to visit her husband Macbeth in the scullery; he is sitting god like at the table depressingly staring into the bottom of a bottle of liquor. Lady Macbeth begins to badger him with her plans and ideas about the closely approaching event of Duncan’s murder. Macbeth continues to sit at the table staring into his bottle, he has extended one hand in front of him into an enclosing fist of fury, tighter and tighter it gets, this represents his anger towards the situation. Soon after a closer shot of his pale, ill looking but startled face, shows he is as confused as he is angry. Before long Lady Macbeth has convinced Macbeth into her plan, and we find him slowly and unsteadily working his was down the dark corridor towards Duncan’s bedroom.
His unsteadiness his presented by his repeated holding and leaning on the walls to regain his balance. He is sweating uncontrollably displaying that regardless of Lady Macbeth’s persuasion he is uncomfortable and nervous about what he is about to do. On entering Duncan’s chamber the music begins to expedite like a heartbeat to an uncontrollable rate, this sets the scene, leading up to something terrible. Macbeth grabs the nearest pillow and proceeds to cover Duncan’s face with it, thus concealing his face and therefore his identity, possibly even to dehumanise him to relieve the guilt on himself. The shots in this scene of Macbeth hacking at Duncan’s neck with the dagger are particularly dark and sharply cut, this is to fool the eye into thinking you see something you don’t, so the audience get the message but the scene is not too graphical.
The music comes to its climax and the next thing we see is Macbeth standing to confront the camera his only expression appears as a perpetual face of despair. Lady Macbeth’s rear filling half the shot, displaying her now god-like power over her husband. The shot is particularly dark, displaying the evil into which Macbeth and his devious wife have transformed.
The shot cuts and the characters are rearranged, now Macbeth pervades the foreground and in the mere shadows of the background Lady Macbeth appears to be praying, her silhouette projected upon the wall only inches behind her seems to impossibly exceed her size, this re-introduces the idea that there may be a supernatural being present. As the camera now flicks back to a portrait of Macbeth, we see the realism of the previous scene as he is now covered in the residue of his ugly dead. I notice that his silhouette on the wall is of equal size to himself this displays that he is of no higher force or power. However as we see in the following shot Lady Macbeth is back against a wall and she doesn’t have any shadow at all, this suggests that she has been totally overtaken by her evil actions and now she has been dehumanized.
To conclude the “Act two Scene one” we are taken back outside to an exterior shot of some buildings and constructions, notice they are manmade unlike the moon. The initial state of mind is now only a memory and we now have to reflect and prepare for the consequences of the evil assassination of King Duncan.
Although the film is based on a sixteenth century play it fits in perfectly with contemporary ways of life, especially the thug life of our younger population. The ideas of persuasion and manipulation are still practiced in the modern day so the audience would have no problems understanding the plot. However the dialog being direct from the book can be a little hard to grasp but the skilful directing, stage setup and editing makes up for that. I believe that the film is implying that even after 500 years of development in the general way of life, we still think and act to the same basic structure as the audience in the sixteen hundreds.