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Title: Auteurs of Macbeth : Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles and Roman Polanski
Author: Girling, Christine
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2006
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Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles and Roman Polanski: three very different filmmakers in whose hands Macbeth becomes three very different films. For Kurosawa, who admits himself to being obsessed with exploring the "extraordinary things that lie in human hearts," the play becomes a humanist drama concerned with man's inner evil and ambition; in the hands of Welles - whose chief agenda was always extravagance and spectacle rather than character development -Macbeth becomes a more symbolic fight between good and evil; whereas Polanski, whose major concern is often with the "confrontation of evil," presents Macbeth as a gritty, psychological thriller. All three directors have remarkable filmographies - often being nominated for and winning prestigious awards as well as experiencing professional low-points which not only counterbalance this, but at times have even seemed out of sync with the rest of their careers. They have also had remarkable personal lives, variously tinged with tragedy, which often seems to be reflected in their films. Kurosawa, born in 1910, experienced first hand the Great Kanto Earthquake, which devastated Japan in 1923, killing more than 100,000, and lived through the Second World War, which cost more than 2 million Japanese lives. He also suffered great personal loss during his lifetime - one of his brothers and one of his sisters died during childhood; and both of his older brothers died when Kurosawa was in his twenties, the younger of whom committed suicide at the age of twenty-seven. Later in life, the director's personal difficulties became so great that at one point he even attempted suicide himself. Welles was born five years after Kurosawa, although his living in America meant that he was less affected by the Second World War. In other ways however, his upbringing was unconventional and not without tragedy. When he was four his parents divorced due to 'irreconcilable differences' - the reality of which was that his father was an alcoholic and his mother had had a live-in-lover for some time. He was considered a child 'prodigy' but as a result of this special treatment was somewhat set apart from other children, had very few friends of his own age, and spent a lifetime trying to live up to these early expectations of greatness. When he was nine his mother died, and six years later so did his father - who literally drank himself to death - leaving his upbringing to his mother's lover, who would act as a secondary father figure to him for the rest of his life. Like Kurosawa, Polanski grew up in politically catastrophic times, although his life may be said to have been the most affected by tragedy and controversy. Jewish, he was born in 1933 and was living in Warsaw during the German invasion of Poland, so was no stranger to the harsh realities of war. His mother was executed in a concentration camp when he was six; years later he was to relive this loss when his pregnant wife was brutally murdered by members of a crazed cult; and when he was still recovering from this tragedy, he was arrested and charged with the rape of a 13 year-old girl. This thesis aims to explore the ways in which these different personal factors affecting Kurosawa, Welles and Polanski have contributed over the years to their films and in particular, to their interpretations of Macbeth. As the play's primary concerns are the mechanisms of evil and human iniquity - subject matter they were all, in varying degrees, personally familiar with the occurrence of these themes throughout the three directors' films will be examined alongside the representation of them in their adaptations of Macbeth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available