🎞The Cold War of Macbeth🎞

“Stars, hide your fires! Let light not see my black and deep desires.” – Macbeth

   In retrospect, I don’t think it would’ve ever crossed my mind to search for parallels between Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, and the events of the Cold War. This project required a level of inquiry like no other from each and every participant. Why? Well I’m sure that if you ask anyone with their head screwed on right if a movie or film adaptation of a book or play managed to outshine the original writing, they’d say no, with very few exceptions. It’s truly a challenge like no other, to take another individuals piece if work, and make it you own. Of course the successful filmmakers of the modern world have an abundance of technology, talent, and money. PLP 11/12 on the other hand, had slim pickings and a cash flow of exactly $0. Nonetheless, we persevered and managed to, for the very first time, complete a PLP Productions™️ adaptation of “Macbeth”, set in the 1950’s.

   Having little to no preexisting knowledge of the events or reasons behind the Cold War did not bode well for me in the past month. As a person drawn towards history I found myself slightly disappointed in the fact that we didn’t shine much light on the Cold War in our lectures. That being said, it’s been a goal of mine, and a focus of my teachers, to encourage unprompted research or deep dives into topics in my spare time. Although as a class we did manage to grasp a general idea of what went on for the roughly 45 year period, I still find myself lacking a lot of the specifics. While I do see this as a personal problem, I also found it very clear that it was a shared feeling amongst my peers. This became particularly evident during the pre-production phase in which we had to adapt “Macbeth”, to fit our criteria. Other than using general filmmaking strategies like costumes and blocking, we were clueless as to how we could make it clear that this movie was set in the 1950’s. We started with general ideas surrounding a communist spy, danced around integrating Kennedy and Khrushchev, and landed on posing Macbeth as a working member of NATO. Going forward, hopefully working on a project similar to this one, I think we as a class need to lean into the historical side of the criteria just as much as we did the English. I felt as though we definitely could’ve better fused together our ideas and understanding of the Cold War with that of “Macbeth”. 

Literature note inspired by lectures on the Cold War

“Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had lived a blessed time, for from this instant, there’s nothing serious in mortality. All is but toys. Renown and grace is dead, the wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees is left this vault of brag of.” – Macbeth

   We really emphasized the importance of being able to verbalize our understanding of literature with “Macbeth”. Rather than just reading the play, discussing the general theme(s), the plot, and the main character, we dove deeply into specific quotes in order to observe how the themes of the play are distributed across each other aspect. The assignment that stood out and really challenged myself and many of my peers was an analysis on a quote from Acts I-III. The quote above has a lot to it. About 564 of my own words. In writing my analysis I had the shocking revelation that I really did not understand the play. At that point it became clear that I needed to spend less time making alterations to the story, and more time building clarity in my own understanding of the play. After several revisions, I reached my final product. I produced a clear message and plunged myself deeper into the play as a whole. The detail that sticks out to me most is how I perceived the plot prior to writing in comparison to after the fact. I found that after my analysis it became clear how coherent the events of the story really are, and how much of a deliberate domino effect Shakespeare integrated. At least that’s how I perceive it now. Then again that’s just my opinion, (which I’d be glad to back up) and all opinions are debatable, especially in terms of Shakespeare. 

My process in understanding the quote

   Making a movie is no simple task. It requires commitment, determination, communication, and a lot of hard work from every participant. Modern films take roughly 90-210 days for pre-production alone. Shooting adds up to about 3-4 months depending on locations, actors schedules, and a multitude of other factors. Editing typically takes a minimum of 6 months, usually a year or more. It all sums up to a 1-3 year process. We began our pre-production in mid February, managed to shoot (almost) everything in less than 2 weeks, and edit in roughly 3.  Of course lets take into account that our film has a 15 minute run time and we didn’t have an original storyline. All that aside, it was a daunting task, but one each and every one of us was determined to complete. That might’ve just been the overwhelming desire to be the first PLP class to successfully do it, but the intentions are besides the point. If I was forced to only take one thing away from the experience, it would be the “newfound” knowledge that communication is really important. I know that sounds so elementary, and you’d think a group of 30 or so grade 11/12 students would have it figured out by now. You’d be very wrong. Communication is key, and we failed hard. There were times where actors were expected to show up on set and had no idea. Times when producers posted call sheets without inquiring with anyone to find a schedule that worked for everyone. Finally the most frustrating part of it, was how the lack of communication contributed to a lack of inclusion. I tried to steer away from my comfort zone and strengths during this production, and honestly I felt very out of place. That is completely normal and comes with trying anything new and didn’t hold me back from inserting myself into the mess. Nonetheless, the people who were regulars in the technical side of productions didn’t leave much space for learning the basics, which ultimately lead me to becoming a somewhat unnecessary body on set. 

   I’ve always enjoyed a good Shakespeare project. I don’t necessarily accredit that to the content itself, but rather the scale of the project. I appreciate how independent my peers and I were left to be. We had a criteria, some history, a play, and a due date (ish). That kind of responsibility is what has made me grow to love projects like these so much. The film has come out fantastic, and the project was a grand success both personally and as a class.


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