Macbeth (1979) 

 

 

 

 

Spoiler Warning: 

 

Act 1. 

The cast comes out all at once and sits down on boxes that large formed in a large circle.  The faces of each cast member is shown.  Three women come into the center of the circle.  They start slowly and softly wailing and that raises to very loud wailing.  Thunder is heard and lightning is heard and seen. They are three witches.  The first witch says: "When shall we three meet again, In thunder, lightning, or in rain?"  The second witch says:  "When the hurlyburly's done, When the battle's lost and won."  The third witch says:  "There to meet with Macbeth."  The three witches say together: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air."

On his knees with other men, old man Duncan, cousin of Macbeth, is saying "mea culpa" again and again.  He is then shocked to see a bloody face.  Duncan asks:  "What bloody man is that?"

The young Malcolm says:  "This is the sergeant, Who like a good and hardy soldier fought 'Gainst my captivity. Hail, brave friend!"  He now asks the sergeant how did the battle go? 

The sergeant says that the merciless rebel Macdonwald came from the western isles made an grand entrance on the battlefield, but brave Macbeth mowed down the enemy until he had carved a bloody path to face Macdonwald.  Macbeth "unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps, And fix'd his head upon our battlements."  But then the Norwegian lord began a new assault.  Macbeth had to fight all the harder against the Norwegian.  But now the sergeant feels faints and Duncan gives the order to get the sergeant some surgeons.

Ross comes and tells the group that "The victory fell on us."  Duncan is so thrilled with Macbeth that he gives him the title of Thane of Cawdor. 

The three witches are together again.  The first witch talks about causing problems for the husband of a sailor's wife.  The other two witches will both lend a wind to the first witch.  But now here comes Macbeth.

With Macbeth is Banquo.  The two men see the three witches and are not quite sure of who or what they are.  The witches already know about Macbeth's new promotion.  They welcome him as the Thane of Cawdor, but then they also welcome him as the King of Scotland hereafter.  Banquo is a bit upset for the witches have said good things about Macbeth, but they have said nothing to him.  The witches tell him:  "Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. Not so happy, yet much happier. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none."

Macbeth wonders how these glorious predictions can be true.  He wants the witches to tell him how they know this?  The witches, however, just vanish. 

Ross and another fellow named Angus appear before Macbeth and Banquo.  Much to the delight of Macbeth, Ross says that the gallant fighter is now Thane of Cawdor, due to the betrayal of the former Thane of Cawdor.  McBeth wonders if he can just relax and chance will make him King of Scotland on its own, without Macbeth having to do anything. 

In the palace are Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain and Lennox.  Duncan wonders if the execution of the former Thane of Cawdor has been done now?  Malcolm says he personally spoke to a man who saw Cawdor die.  He adds that Cawdor was very repentant:  "nothing in his life Became him like the leaving it."

Now entering the palace room is Macbeth, Banquo, Ross and Angus.  When Duncan see Macbeth he praises him highly.  Macbeth said he was doing his loyal duty that he naturally owes to the great King.  Duncan also praises Banquo.  He then says that his eldest son, Malcolm, will be the next King.  Henceforth, Malcolm will be the the Prince of Cumberland.   And next they will go to Inverness.  Macbeth says his wife will be very excited to hear the news that the King is coming to their place. 

What Macbeth is really thinking is that this Prince of Cumberland might be a big obstacle to him becoming the King.  But there is a way to get around that obstacle.  He also warns himself not to let show his black inner thoughts on this subject.  Macbeth leaves. 

Inverness.  Macbeth's castle.  Mrs. Macbeth reads a letter from her husband.  The letter informs her about the meeting with the three witches and their saying that he would be Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland.  And now he is the Thane of Cawdor and great things will come to him and his wife as times passes.  He just wanted her to know what to expect in the future according to the witches.  The wife is happy about the news, but worries that Macbeth may be too nice of a guy to be able to do the things necessary to become king.  She is anxious for him to arrive home so she can pout some of her evil spirit into Macbeth. A messenger comes in saying that Macbeth will be home this very night.

The wife now calls on the evil spirits to fill her with the greatest of cruelty.  As she thinks of ways to be strong in a evil way, Macbeth comes in.  She greets him.  He tells her that Duncan will come here tonight.  The wife asks and when will Duncan be leaving?  Tomorrow. 

His wife says that she can read in his face his thoughts.  He must behave in a welcoming way and not give himself away.  She also urges him to let her take charge of the matter. 

Arriving at the Macbeth castle are Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, Ross, Angus and the attendants.  Duncan and Banquo speak of the pleasant smell of the air in this place. Duncan then thanks Mrs. Macbeth for her being their hostess.  She says that what she has done for them is nothing compared to the honors the King has bestowed on their castle by coming here.  Duncan now wants to see their host. 

Macbeth considers the assassination of the King.  He realizes it's a double betrayal of the King.  For one, Macbeth is his kinsmen, and for the other, Macbeth is the host of the King.  And the King has also been so mild and humble, which argues against doing the deed. When Lady Macbeth comes to talk to him he says let's forget about their plot.  The King, after all, has honored Macbeth so highly that he has earned favors from many others at court.  His wife scolds him for acting so cowardly --  afraid to do the deeds necessary to fulfill his great desires.  When Macbeth hesitates she basically says he's not acting like a "real" man.  So, Macbeth switches the focus onto the possibility that their plan may fail.  His wife answers:  "We fail! But screw your courage to the sticking-place, And we'll not fail."

She says she will get the two chamberlains drunk on wine and then:  "What cannot you and I perform upon The unguarded Duncan?"  And the blame for the killing will be on the chamberlains.  Macbeth says to himself:  "False face must hide what the false heart doth know."

 

Act 2.

Enter Banquo and servant Fleance.  Banquo asks Fleance how goes the night?  He says the moon goes down and he thinks it later than midnight.  With a servant Macbeth comes in.  Banquo thinks it strange that Macbeth should still be up.  They talk awhile and Macbeth says goodnight to the other three as they leave.  By himself, Macbeth says to himself: "Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?"

He kills the King.  He realizes he must have done it when he sees blood on the knife in his hand.  Speaking of the knife, he says: "I see thee still, And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, Which was not so before."

Lady Macbeth worries if Macbeth has not done the deed.  Macbeth comes to her to tell her:  "I have done the deed."

 

to be continued