orson nolan


Macbeth [d: Orson Welles, 1948]

So, cinemaocd and I are watching the Orson Shakespeare films at the mo (last year we watched the Larry ones after a lifetime of me avoiding them because I firmly believe that it’s wrong to criticise things if you’ve not seen them, so now I can lay into them all I like) which I have shamefully not rewatched for ages

I know Macbeth well enough to annoy myself by finishing people’s lines, but I really had forgotten how great this version is. Yes it’s cut and edited and rearranged a bit, that’s the often joy of Shakespeare. It’s definitely the joy of Orson, as he does it to benefit the story, rather than himself. (He does insert Macbeth into Banquo’s murder scene, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and thinking it’s to underline how brutal and insecure he is as a king). 

The design - New Look Brutality: Feudal Scots edition - is fucking tremendous. I bloody love it. (I’m aware it’s divisive, but holy moly this really does feel like the dark ages). As with most Orson-directed films, you can take any shot and it looks amazing; the lighting is fabulous, the camera angles always interesting, he has such an awareness of space and how to use it. But it’s there to serve the story rather than show off how clever he is. Kudos to everyone for their scottish accents, double kudos to the costume designers for a tremendous range of helmets (and the fur dear god the FUR), and triple kudos to Orson for his incredibly flattering beard. Oh yeah, and for the acting. Because it ranges from good to great, and Orson in particular is really bloody great. And gives my favourite ever line reading of ‘Lay on, Macduff, and damned be him that first cries “Hold, enough!”’.