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'Macbeth': amNewYork looks at some classic takes on the Shakespeare tragedy

Patrick Stewart as Macbeth

Patrick Stewart as Macbeth Photo Credit: Handout

“Something wicked” comes to PBS on Wednesday, when the network airs the TV version of Rupert Goold’s production of “Macbeth,” which ran at BAM and on Broadway in 2008.

With Patrick Stewart giving a Tony-nominated performance as Shakespeare’s famous thane, and the action transplanted to the 20th-century, it’s a must-see event.

In its honor, we offer five notable “Macbeths”:

Roman Polanski’s version (1971)
For his first film after the murder of wife, Roman Polanski secured funding from none other than Hugh Hefner for this ill-fated, over-budget adaptation. Still, Lady Macbeth sleepwalking nude and the odd-couple combination of Playboy and Shakespeare intrigues.

Macbeth, the Italian gothic metal band (since 1995)
They put out an album called “Romantic Tragedy’s Crescendo” and, with lyrics such as “The warmth of mortals does not dwell here, in this body frozen by the kiss of death,” they’re pretty epic. Check the band out at

Orson Welles film (1948)
Orson Welles had staged “Macbeth” twice and brought it to the big screen when he couldn’t find financing for an adaptation of “Othello.” Welles himself plays the lead.

Macbeth from ‘Gargoyles’ (1994-97)
If you grew up during the ’90s, you probably watched the Disney cartoon “Gargoyles” and were creeped out by the villainous Macbeth, voiced by the great John Rhys-Davies.

‘Throne of Blood’ (1957)
Akira Kurosawa was one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, and his transferral of Shakespeare’s story to medieval Japan, starring Toshiro Mifune, is widely considered to be one of his best movies.

On TV “Great Performances: Macbeth” airs on WNET/13 on Wednesday at 9 p.m.


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