A dark, moody screen version of the classic tragedy about a presumptuous Scottish prince's quest for power through patricide--in keeping with both the play's spirit and Welles' vision. As with his other masterpieces, Welles effectively mixes the use of shadow and oblique camera angles to achieve the ominous sense of a land in peril. Originally cut to 89 minutes for theatrical release, the film has been restored to its full 105 minutes, with dialogue redubbed by Welles and the other actors to cut down on the Scottish accents. Nominated for an award in the 1948 Venice Film Festival.
While returning home from a successful campaign, generals Macbeth and Banquo encounter three mysterious witches who prophesy that Macbeth will become first thane of Cawdor and then king, while Banquo's children will be kings but Banquo will not. When the witches' first prophesy comes true and Macbeth is named thane, he is encouraged by his wife to murder Duncan, the king, and they plot to eliminate those who would threaten his position.
Filmed on a low budget over three weeks, entirely on sets.
Numerous versions of the film exist, some featuring the original Scottish accents, some with dubbed English accents. Director Orson Welles' cut runs 112 minutes long. Variety reviewed a 106-minute version in October 1948, and the film was edited and re-edited over the next two years, until only 89 minutes remained. The U.C.L.A. Film and Television Archives later restored the film to its original length.
This was not the first time Welles had directed "Macbeth." His most notable production was an all-black version that focused on the witches and voodoo, staged in 1936.
Optical effects by Consolidated Film Industries.
Additional cast: George Chirello (Seyton), Lionel Braham (Siward), Jerry Farber (Fleance), Archie Heugly (Young Siward), Brainerd Duffield (First Murderer, Voice of Witch), and Robert Alan (Second Murderer).