Macbeth receives a most handsome treatment by Roman Polanski and artistic adviser Kenneth Tynan, both of whom adapted this production for the entry of Playboy Enterprises into feature filming. Rugged in its telling, raw in its motivated violence, and rich in its appropriate physical trappings, this is the 16th known film version of the story. The players are very good, though Jon Finch’s Macbeth is a serious weakness.
Does Polanski’s Macbeth work? Not especially, but it was an admirable try. The film is traditional in the sense that there are no forced sociological overtones, no Freudianisms, and no pop-art formula-epic ‘production numbers’. Atmospherically it is a heavy trip through a time machine.
The prominent surrounding characters have been cast and directed with the same care. In such heady surroundings Francesca Annis as Lady Macbeth often pales in impact, and Finch as Macbeth completely fades in effectiveness. Both seem almost to be of another time and place: she closer to Sherwood Forest and pampered gentility; he, almost a 20th-century drawing room psychotic.