Masks and Melodramas: Theatrical Influences on Film Adaptations of Macbeth
by Anne Hung
This paper presents a comparative analysis of two film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1606)—Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (1957) and Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth (2015). Specifically, I explore the influence of Japanese Noh theatre in Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood and the influence of Victorian melodrama in Kurzel’s Macbeth. In doing so, I aim to present Shakespeare’s Macbeth as a case study of how film adaptations can give new meaning to their source texts by putting them in dialogue with other theatrical traditions.
This article examines manifestations of “shame nationalism”—a learned emotional script prevalent in discourses of modern Chinese national identity—in Se, jie (Lust, Caution; Ang Lee, 2007) and its reception. The essay argues that this affectively charged response to perceived national humiliation functions as a form of communal identification that performs and interprets shame as a signal of moral virtue and national devotion. Analyzing performances of shame and humiliation in the film, the article demonstrates how the emotional script for shame nationalism employs the melodramatic mode for its narrativization and dissemination.