Blu-ray & DVD Release: Macbeth (1948)

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Nov. 15, 2016
Price: DVD $24.99, Blu-ray $27.99
Studio: Olive Films

Orson Welles brushed up on his Shakespeare when he directed and starred in a 1948 film adaptation of The Bard’s immortal drama Macbeth, the latest title to be added to the Olive Signature Collection.

orsonmacbethWelles’ dark and moody screen version of the classic tragedy about a presumptuous Scottish prince’s quest for power through patricide keeps with both the play’s spirit and Welles’ vision. As with his other films (Citizen Kane, The Stranger), Welles effectively mixes the use of shadow and oblique camera angles to achieve—in this case—an ominous feeling of a land in peril.

Also starring Jeanette Nolan (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) and Roddy McDowall (Fright Night), Welles’ Macbeth was originally cut to 89 minutes for its theatrical release following poor test screenings and complaints about Welles’ decision to have his cast speak in Scottish burrs. This special Olive Signature edition includes both the original 1948 107-minute cut, replete with affected highland accents, and the 1950 pared-down 85-minute re-release that removed most of the accented dialogue.

Here’s a breakdown of the edition’s impressive list of features:

  • New High-Definition digital restoration
  • Includes 1948 and 1950 versions
  • Audio Commentary with Welles biographer Joseph McBride
  • “Welles and Shakespeare” – an interview with Welles expert, Professor Michael Anderegg
  • “Adapting Shakespeare on Film” – a conversation with directors Carlo Carlei (Romeo & Juliet) and Billy Morrissette (Scotland, PA)
  • Excerpt from We Work Again, a 1937 WPA documentary containing scenes from Welles’ Federal Theatre Project production of Macbeth
  • “That Was Orson Welles” – an interview with Welles’ close friend and co-author, Peter Bogdanovich
  • “Restoring Macbeth” – an interview with former UCLA Film & Television Archive Preservation Officer Bob Gitt
  • “Free Republic: The Story of Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures”
  • “The Two Macbeths” – an essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum
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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.