Tragedy of Macbeth [1971]

The Standard Deviants, a cast of energetic young performers whose stock in trade is to make serious academic subjects lighthearted and offbeat enough to be memorable, turn their attentions to three classic Shakespeare tragedies. The usual bad jokes, silly costumes, and mugging for the camera are somewhat more subdued when detailing Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear, though the treatment is often imaginative. The lessons about each play begin with a brief historical discussion of the background of the play, and the plot is outlined with the aid of some distinctive animation. The young performers act out scenes from the plays, and computer graphics present particular sections of text on the screen. The motivations of characters are discussed, Shakespeare's use of language is given appropriate attention, symbolism is illuminated, and a synopsis of each play is provided in a review section. Students can take or skip a quiz given on each play, and a comprehensive exam dubbed the "Mac Daddy" also appears on the disc. The lessons about the plays have been approved by a serious academic panel and do contain considerable detail. And the lively approach of the Standard Deviants can certainly help a student increase an understanding of the great tragedies. --Robert J. McNamara

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