The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0910  Monday, 12 May 2003

From:           S Greenhalgh <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 11 May 2003 08:16:12 +0100
Subject: 14.0861 Re: Macbeth's Hired Thugs
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0861 Re: Macbeth's Hired Thugs

In response to L.Swilley's query about the portrayal of Lady Macbeth in
Woolcock's film, as already noted the whole interpretation was based
around the loss of her child (which I take to have been from some fatal
disease as a toddler).  The soliloquy in the child's bedroom was the
outcome of despair and bitterness and the motivation for her subsequent
actions was bound up with the desire to get pregnant again at any cost.
(Of course there's a contradiction here with the words, since she's
doing the opposite of unsexing herself).  Unsurprisingly her getting
Macbeth to screw his courage was turned into a literal act of
intercourse, but more interestingly this was preceded by explicit sexual
approaches towards her by Duncan (Ray Winstone). After the funeral of
Duncan she is seen singing a karaoke version of 'I will survive' with
Lady Macduff with the Macduff baby in her arms. After the banquet scene
(in a pub) she gets her period and is shown destroying a pregnancy
testing kit. She runs to the Macduffs with the words of warning and is
sitting on their doorstep as they are battered to death inside.
Virtually all her exchanges with Macbeth  are set in the kitchen, where
her obsession with cleaning becomes a symptom of her guilt (eg putting
'bloodstained' sheets into the washing machine). The effective
conclusion to this interpretation was her speaking of the lines 'to bed,
to bed' to the dead child before being seen throwing herself off the top
of a block of flats.

As played by Susan Vidor (with a Scottish accent) this was a
refreshingly unfiend-like queen, consistent with Woolcock's focus in her
films on the situation of women and children in public housing estates
dominated by male lowlife crime and violence.

Susanne Greenhalgh

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