7 Differences Between The Play And The Film ‘Macbeth’

Who hasn’t heard about Shakespeare, right? Most of us have read various plays of Shakespeare, such as Macbeth in our schools and colleges, and several of us have even performed in school plays. The best thing about Shakespeare is that it is even more magical to see it on the screen and being performed than reading it on your own.

There have been various film adaptations of the Shakespearean play Macbeth, the most recent being Rupert Goold’s version of Macbeth in 2010. It stars Patrick Stewart as Macbeth and Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth. There are various adaptations of Macbeth, and people usually prefer the Macbeth play in the Macbeth play vs. movie debate.

There are quite a few differences between the play and the film. Let’s take a look at a few of them!

1.     Change in Timeline

There are plenty of differences between Macbeth play and 2010 movie, and most of them don’t sit well with true Shakespearean fans. The original play is set in the late 1400s and early 1500s. However, the movie is set around the 1920s.

With this change in the time slots, the setting and background of the entire movie had to be changed. Accordingly, it adds an interesting contrast in the movie. However, fans don’t approve of so much change.

2.     Change in Setting

Macbeth (2010) is a very strange adaptation of the play and has a relatively modern setting. It is set in Soviet Russia, whereas the play was set in the medieval time, located most probably in Scotland. The idea that we have of Macbeth in our minds from our school and college days clashes with the idea of Macbeth depicted in this movie.

3.     Death of Macbeth

The death of Macbeth is a highly downplayed affair in the 2010 movie. He is sitting at his dining table all alone when Macduff attacks him, and the battle takes place privately. Moreover, Macbeth fights in a very hopeless way.

We don’t see his death; Malcolm gets his severed head in the end. You can take a look on free Macbeth character analysis essay examples.  The whole character of Macbeth has been downplayed in this movie. The hunger for power, the fire, the craziness in the end that we studied in school, and have written Macbeth character analysis essay about, we don’t see a lot it in the movie.

4.     Depiction of the Witches

The differences between Macbeth play and 2010 movie are very stark, and we can see that there is a complete deviation from the timeline in the movie.

We all remember the witches from Macbeth. In the play, they met Macbeth in the forest or in uninhabited areas. However, in the movie, the witches are depicted as nurses, and they present in Macbeth’s house, lurking in the shadows.

This is really weird since nurses are portrayed in all movies as kind and good, but here they depict evil. Furthermore, the witches don’t even say much; they just keep looking at the characters with big, weird eyes that creates awkwardness in the movie.

5.     Changes in the scene of Hecate

Another difference between the movie and the play is that there is no scene with Hecate, and she isn’t mentioned in the movie at all. While in the play, Hecate shows up and talks to the witches.

6.     Apparitions

Another one of the differences between Macbeth play and 2010 movie is present in the occurrence of apparitions.

In the original play, there are apparitions of a bloody child, an armed head, and that of a little boy with a crown on his head. However, in the movie, there are only dead bodies inside the bags, and they speak through the witches. The only apparition that was shown in the movie was Banquo and the line of Kings.

The apparitions are one of the main reasons why Macbeth goes crazy. With all these changes, it seems as if the original spirit of the play has been changed completely.

7.     Murder of the Macduffs

In the family, when the Macduff family is murdered, Macbeth is not there. However, the opposite happens in the movie, and Macbeth is present. Furthermore, in the movie, Ross sees that they have been murdered while in the play, he only hears about it.  The murder of the Macduffs and all that it encompasses has not been portrayed in a great way in the 2010 version of Macbeth movie.

Final Verdict

The movie has an overall great feel to it. But true Shakespeare fans will agree that there are a lot of changes in the movie, and the cutting and adding of some parts cause the story to lose its essence to some extent. We often have Macbeth play vs. movie debate, and many people don’t appreciate the changes made in the movie.

We have explained quite a few differences in our Macbeth play vs. movie analysis. Rupert Goold’s version didn’t stick to the main plot and time frame. It seemed as if he was trying very hard to be different. The madness and thirst for power depicted by Patrick Stewart seem to be lacking as well.


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