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Adapting Shakespeare

MUBI Special

We celebrate Williams Shakespeare’s anniversary with a special double feature of daring adaptations of his work. From the brutality and perversity of Roman Polanski’s version of Macbeth to the elegance and sensitivity of Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, long live the Bard of Avon!

Romeo and Juliet

Franco Zeffirelli Italy, 1968

Far different than Polanski’s blood-stained Bard, Franco Zeffirelli’s lush late-60s version of one of Romeo and Juliet turns up the heat and infuses his film with enough youth and vigor to escape camp and corn. So permeated is our culture by this tale that a sensitive version hits us all the harder.

Macbeth

Roman Polanski United States, 1971

All hail the Bard! This week, a double feature of Shakespeare adaptations. We begin with one of the most perfect marriages of director and material: Polanski, hot off Rosemary’s Baby, returned to the U.K. for a brutally violent take on Macbeth, recognizing both its pulp and perversity.

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