nicolas stagliano

// adept jibber-jabberer //


I adore Macbeth (the Shakespeare play) and I have long wanted to do a spinoff film of Macbeth. I want it to follow Lady Macbeth and largely stick to her point of view, and that of Banquo, but never Macbeth. If I had just a massive amount of money I reckon I could bribe my way into getting a production company to pick up the film, and I don’t reckon my budget for the film itself would have to be huge. The film would not be set on a stage that is vaguely medieval – I want it to feel authentic, with an actual set. It would be set in rose gardens, courtyards shrouded in ivy, I want it to feel like a real castle, like Game of Thrones does cinematographically.

How I would do Lady Macbeth

I would want to do a film that mainly follows Lady Macbeth, particularly focusing on how Macbeth’s descent into paranoid psychosis anguishes her psyche. I am fascinated with portraying her anguish not as the product of morality, but rather intense empathy toward Macbeth (empathy she is incapable of feeling toward anyone else. Which I guess makes it the product of morality, but Macbeth’s morality and not her own.) I want to reimagine Lady Macbeth’s true sense of guilt as a pathology growing from Macbeth’s moral neurosis, which causes her to feel like the blood on his hands is on her hands; it’s inherited, it’s infectuous.

Delusional loyalty is what causes her suicide. She would feel this empathy due to being in a “us and them” and “partners in crime” mindset – she loves Macbeth, despite the fact that she manipulates him, in a kind of (delusional) loyalty to him and him alone. Her suicide is some idea that her sacrifice will relieve Macbeth of his guilt – if she turns it on herself, if she “evens it out”, Macbeth will be absolved of guilt. She martyrs herself for him, the only person she is capable of loving.

I’m just infatuated with the idea of making a Lady Macbeth like the book Cercei Lannister. Extremely pretty, charming, treacherous. I really like the thought of her and Macbeth meeting in a rose garden when he goes to tell her of the prophecy (instead of a letter), she puts a rose in Macbeth’s palms and closes his hand around it. He pulls back his hand, he is bleeding, she smiles sadly and says “what’s wrong with a little blood?” Ugh, it would be such a good scene.

Additionally, I think it could examine Lady Macbeth’s anxieties. Does she struggle with the existential angst? Does this angst compel her to commit suicide, in some belief that “evening out” a sin will redeem her soul? Is she afraid of what comes after death? And even before she inherits moral anxiety from her husband, does she struggle with a conflict between delusion and conscientious sensibility? Exploration of potential underlying psychosis external of that of her husband is also possible. Psychosis is usually accompanied with delusions of grandeur. If her desire for her husband’s greatness is a delusion of grandeur, in what ways does this underlying delusion impact the other facets of her life?

How I would do Macbeth himself (and Banquo)

And Macbeth himself – I adore the neurosis that plagues Macbeth, so raw, he becomes paranoid because the guilt fragments his psyche and he descends into psychosis as a result of post-traumatic stress and not as a result of an underlying condition. Perhaps it is a natural disposition for him, that doing evil should cause him moral angst. Perhaps she inherited delusions from his wife, if there is underlying psychosis involved, and the cognitive dissonance between the two is what ends him in the end. By the end he’s numb to Lady Macbeth’s suicide, I imagine him trying desperately to cope with the suffering his action has brought him, trying to numb a gaping wound that can never heal.

I also would like to depict Macbeth as not being really at all tormented specifically by killing Duncan, but rather by betraying Banquo, and I would portray Banquo as a ride-or-die for Macbeth – it is this betrayal that seems to be the focal point of his psychosis, with him seeing the ghost of Banquo and all that. Banquo was fiercely loyal to Macbeth, but Macbeth has to view treachery as true masculinity after killing Duncan – friendship, loyalty, Lady Macbeth has manipulated him into viewing it as weakness, but every moral bone in his disposition is telling him otherwise. He doesn’t tell Lady Macbeth because he wants to demonstrate that he isn’t weak, passive, and that he can demonstrate strength amidst moral adversity without being prompted.

Macduff et. al

This is where it gets a little more controversial. I would like to reimagine Macduff not as an opponent to tyrrany, but rather as seeking favor with whatever king he feels that he can get the most power and money out of. Malcolm is a logical choice because he is young, manipulatable, and in deep need of an ally. Macduff is wise to the alibi provided by Macbeth regarding the murders of Duncan and Banquo – he knows that any attempt at growing in power and position under Macbeth’s reign would be seen as a threat by and to Macbeth, so he chooses not to curry favor with Macbeth specifically, but hedges his bets with Malcolm.

I am unsure, though, how I would do Malcolm. Is he fearful and apprehensive, filled with anxiety at the thought of ever taking on the crown? Is he hungry for power and in deep desires of his father’s inheritance? Is he too young and naive to understand the gravity of the situation, and therefore relies completely on Macduff? Or, perhaps bitter and cynical and pessimistically assuming the worst of Macduff, choosing to see the worst in all people?

And Duncan – is he frail, old, and senile? Or shall I make him a bit younger, maybe in his fifties, still in possession of moderate virility, but weary of the crown? Do I want to depict him more traditionally, as trusting of Macbeth, proud of Macbeth, or do I want to go about making him suspicious and cynical, and then depict Malcolm in such a way that he would inherit Duncan’s cynicism?

Ugh. So many options.

Will I ever write the script?

I have a Google Doc filled with notes, but I haven’t gotten around to breaking ground on this. It would be a movie, not a theatrical performance on film. I would emphasize the authenticity of the set, the scene, because most Shakespeare films just prioritize the acting so so so much and it’s annoying and a little nauseating.

I don’t know how much money I would need, but I would give anything to make this a reality some day. Some day. For now I’ll see about writing a goddamn script. I have screenwriting software on my pc.

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