Film and Reading Response

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The article "Mediating Witchcraft in Polanski and Shakespeare" examines some of the complications present in the Macbeth movie. Given the cultural, narrative, and cinematic themes prevalent at the time of Polanski's film's development, Reynolds (112) intended to convey the controversy that dogged Polanski's work. This essay will investigate the idea that the Macbeth play and movie both support the reality of witchcraft. It also makes an effort to examine the conservative attitudes that people have about alternative lifestyles in society because they think that counterculture interferes with the community's established social structures. Mainly, the author’s focus on examining the link between the Tate murders and counterculture and how these may influence the criticism that is extended towards Polanski’s films. Indeed, in my opinion, the play and the film both reinforce the existence of witchcraft in the society. The several allusions that are made in the film with regards to witchcraft strive to create the image that witchcraft is a part of human existence. It is not possible to separate the author’s sentiments with activities that are not practiced in the society. This is because an artist acts as the mirror of the community. Consequently, the author asserts that “rumors of Polanski’s own Satanism and associated perverted practices performed at his home also contributed to the blame-the-victims conception” (Reynolds 117). It is likely that the Polanski transmitted the realities of his life into the film Macbeth. Essentially, a futile attempt to normalize witchcraft in the society. To encourage the acceptance of witchcraft in the society, Polanski assumes the re-aestheticizing of horror that is observed in the film. This initiative is achieved through the employ of “the crystal-image and correlative creation of a cinematic Theater of Cruelty” (Reynolds 118).

Alternatively, the author predicates that conservative perceptions are responsible for the negative conceptualization of alternative lifestyles, as reinforced by Polanski’s film, in the society. Principally, individuals are more likely to chastise that which deviates from the social norm. This assertion accounts for the ridicule that was extended towards Polanski and Tate when the murders of his friends and his family occurred. With regards to the loath that is extended towards counterculture, Reynolds (118) indicates that as far as the majority of America was concerned, it was not “alright” to be different…in the 1960s”. Thus, the blame that was imposed on Polanski with regards to the deaths of the Tate family is a consequence of the portrayal of the theme of witchcraft and Satanism in the movie Macbeth. The criticism that was extended towards Polanski, which emphasized his responsibility for the death of his wife and unborn child, was a direct result of his attempt to commodify horror that is associated with witchcraft.

Conclusively, in examining the concepts of the article, the author uses biographical criticism to try and establish the relationship between the elements of film Macbeth and the life of Polanski. The biological approach assumes that the conceptualization of the theme of a given book cannot be achieved without the examination of the author’s life. Similarly, the article uses the historical approach given that it aims to examine the theme of counterculture in the prevailing cultural context. Mainly, the article explains the response with which people extended divergent actions in the society in relation to the American culture of 1960.

Work Cited

Reynolds, Bryan. "Untimely Ripped: Mediating Witchcraft in Polanski and Shakespeare." Reynolds, Bryan. Performing Transversally: Reimagining Shakespeare and the Critical Future. Palgrave Macmillan , 2003. 111-135.

April 06, 2023



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