Thunder and lightning. Enter three witches. And so begins Macbeth, the Scottish play. See the 2011 Peabody winning performance, starring Patrick Stewart as the tyrannical general and Kate Fleetwood as his coldly scheming wife.

Produced by Great Performances on PBS

  • Shakesister

    The witches in this version are amazing!!! Patrick Stewart and the other cast members are all exceptional. What a superb resetting that retains the war torn, domestic dispute themes of Shakespeare’s original script. Not to be missed!

  • Cheat Sheets Online

    This version is great! And I, too, really like the setting and the witches.

  • Armando Corbelle

    great setting for the play. The mire of war is a good metaphor for Macbeth’s own troubled mind, a bog of fear, ambition, and guilt.

  • TheLegend33

    I must watch Shakespeares’ plays the way there were intended, I will not bring myself to watch a modern version, call me a traditionalist thats just fine w/me.
    I just finished with the Ethan Hawke episode of Macbeth and I was kind of taken aback that Mr. Hawke did not know that “Murther” (in the obsolete) read as Murder in all Shakespeare works that I have read. And that he needed to ask “What does that mean?” as he read the scene to a fellow actor, only tells me …he’s never read original Shakespeare text before. If he had, he would of most certainly come across that word many times via the tragedies. I’m not saying I’m smarter, but he’s an actor who should be familiar with works of such importance in his chosen career.
    3 favorite plays: 1) Hamlet 2) Henry IV (1&2) 3) King Lear
    Most under-appreciated play (imo): The Merry Wives of Windsor, A story, within a story, within a story. And very funny. A Must see (subtitles should be used for a few of the characters….Pistol, Nym, Bardolf, the French Dr. Caias (broken english), The Preacher Hughes (Welsh) and Slender all speak either very fast and use some referenced form of latin). It’s my favorite comedy. A Great version can be found on You-Tube.

    • Muse7mom

      Shakespeare’s plays were and are intended to be enjoyed even today. If we wish to show that his themes are still relevant today (and they, of course, ARE) then it should be no problem to manipulate something as simple as the setting. You can be a “traditionalist,” I prefer to be a “by any means necessary.” (English teacher and theatre director)

    • Michael

      Shakespeare wrote for a contemporary audience. His Macbeth was not costumed as a medieval Scottish play, but as Elizabethans/Jacobeans with a maybe a patch of tartan here and there. His Julius Caesar did not have actors in togas. He had people wearing glasses in Lear & Titus, and carrying pistols in Pericles. Historical accuracy was not on his mind. Why should it be on ours? Don’t let these strictures keep you from watching this wonderful Macbeth. It is one of the best film versions of Shakespeare out there.

      Ethan Hawk was making an educational video. He knows what murther means. He was making a point about what seems to be archaic language yet is, in reality, a relatively contemporary term. Also, actors need to explore these questions to their fullest and confirm what they may already know. They need to check to be sure there’s not something they’re missing. BTW I laughed out loud when he got on his knees to look at the first folio as if he were praying. If you don’t think that was set-up deliberately I can see why you don’t see other constructs in the video.

      Which version of MWW are you referring to? I would love to watch it. With all due respect to John Housman and Ben Kingsley, there is not a good film version of the play that I’ve found.

  • Brian T. Murphy

    Saw this production on stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
    Brilliant. Just brilliant.

  • William O’Connor

    Shakespeare’s theme’s are universal, which is why they are still so powerful today. Macbeth performed in kilts, or kimonos, or business suits, still tells a timeless story of greed and power. Great performance!

  • publiusr

    While Ethan was asking about the heat-oppressed brow, a thought struck me as to how to play the dagger scene in front of the camera.

    I seem to remember a special lens that allowed objects in

    the foreground and background to remain in focus–This was before Lytro–and was shown in one of Attenborough’s works, where he was standing next to a giant caterpillar:

    To me, the dagger scene should have been a hearth scene. Macbeth reaches for a fireplace poker that, in the waves of heat (CGI) appears to be a dagger. He reaches for it, and it is gone.

    He grabs a regular poker, and it breaks in his hand, leaving a tooth–a shard of iron that looks like a dagger (“I see thee yet”).

    The camera is on the other side of the fireplace set, looking through the flames that through CGI take form. Macbeth then stabs at the fire stoking it. We don’t actually see him stab his victim–but this scene out of hell points to that.

  • Peggy Reichman

    I find a very real difficulty in taking this program seriously when I am told (within the program) that “in 1597 King James…” In 1597 James was King James VI of Scotland and not involved – let alone crowned king – in English affairs. Another case of sloppy work!