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 MACBETH: What's done is done 
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 MACBETH: What's done is done

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Anticipating Justin Kurzel's Macbeth (with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard) has made me curious about the versions that came before. The Scottish play is a bit of a blind spot for me; though I read it long ago, I’ve never seen it performed. Film-wise, I've seen only the Kurosawa and Morrissette (listed below), and I've never heard or seen the opera. I'm going to fix all that, and you're invited to join me. These eight struck my fancy, but if you don't see your favorite, feel free to share it here. So, the plan: pick out a film to watch with me, come back here to compare notes, and, hopefully, we'll add some depth to the discussion when the new film comes out!

    Image Macbeth (Orson Welles, 1948)
    ___Classic version starring the great man himself. Conversation starts here

    Image Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)
    ___Reimagined as a samurai epic, with the amazing Toshirô Mifune. Conversation starts here

    Image Siberian Lady Macbeth (Andrzej Wajda, 1962)
    ___Based on the novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, this one adds Slavic melodrama to the pot. Conversation starts here

    Image Macbeth (Roman Polanski, 1971)
    ___Jon Finch, of Frenzy, is the title figure in this grim and bloody version. Conversation starts here

    Image A Performance of Macbeth (Philip Casson, 1979)
    ___Impeccable credentials: a Trevor Nunn production starring Ian McKellen and Judy Dench. Conversation starts here

    Image Macbeth (Béla Tarr, 1982)
    ___A lean, intense staging consisting of two long shots. Conversation starts here

    Image Scotland, Pa. (Billy Morrissette, 2001)
    ___Turning tragedy into dark comedy, with Christopher Walken as Lieutenant McDuff. Conversation starts here

    Image Maqbool (Vishal Bhardwaj, 2003)
    ___A modernization set in the Mumbai underworld. Conversation starts here

    Image Macbeth (Andrea Bevilacqua, 2006)
    ___The Teatro Regio in Parma stages the famous opera by Verdi. Conversation starts here

    Image Macbeth (Justin Kurzel, 2015)
    ___Bringing big sound, bold color, and plenty of slo-mo to the Scottish Play. Conversation starts here


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Fri Sep 25, 2015 3:58 am
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"By the pricking of my thumbs..."

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:04 am
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Is this a great thread I see before me?

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:08 am
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Jedi, watch with me!

Kurz, ha! :D

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:09 am
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Love Maqbool.

And the Welles and Kurosawa too. Haven't seen the Polanski since I saw the first and last 40 minutes or so in high school during English classes (I was sick for the middle one and didn't get to school that day).

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:18 am
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Ah, good. I'm most excited about the Polanski, I think, and after that, Maqbool and the Tarr.

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:30 am
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Neat, I've been meaning to watch one or two since I did Sleep No More. Hope to contribute a little.

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:04 am
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I had forgotten there was a Macbeth coming up with Fassbender and Cotillard.

That succession of surnames, real and fictional, just gave me a small orgasm.


Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:33 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Ah, good. I'm most excited about the Polanski, I think, and after that, Maqbool and the Tarr.

If he used the same/similar aesthetic of Tess, than it's got to be great. :D

Edit: And, it looks like he did! Some of these blu caps are great!


Fri Sep 25, 2015 6:14 am
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kwel


Fri Sep 25, 2015 11:23 am
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ohhh, just pretend the sam worthington one doesn't exist then

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 11:29 am
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I once saw a Ch4 one (I think they produced it) or maybe BBC where Macbeth is a chef. That was interesting. But for TV.

No one sang.

(I did when I saw this thread title and the thread-starter, though.)

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 12:33 pm
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The book is better.

And the original theatrical production was the best.

My hipster game is on point.

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 2:40 pm
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Awesome idea, I'll keep tabs on this. There are several of these I've yet to see.

Also, you should make a footnote of Welles' Voodoo Macbeth. It's essentially the play that launched his career, along with his radio work. Some footage even survives from the climactic moments (included in the link).

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:05 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Jedi, watch with me!

Yes, grabbing now!

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:15 pm
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Hooray for participation!

EG, those screencaps look amazing! (And about 30x better than the copy I have.)

Trip wrote:
ohhh, just pretend the sam worthington one doesn't exist then
Haha. I left hundreds out! Is it good? If so (or if anyone plans to watch it, regardless) I'll add it. That's how this works.

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:38 pm
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And, Bear, is there any way we could persuade Sonechka to come back for this? We need her! Of course I'm hoping she sees this as a tribute to her Shakespeare thread and not villainous theft, haha.

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:53 pm
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great thread, love the Tarr and Welles ones, always meant to see Scotland PA


Fri Sep 25, 2015 10:37 pm
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wigwam wrote:
great thread, love the Tarr and Welles ones
Good to hear.

I re-read the play last night, so I'm up to speed. I'm watching the Polanski with Jedi on Saturday. And if anyone's ready to watch another, let me know and I'll bump it up. I have them all lined up and ready to go!

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 11:25 pm
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I look forward to lurking in this thread! :heart:

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Sat Sep 26, 2015 6:32 am
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Gort wrote:
I once saw a Ch4 one (I think they produced it) or maybe BBC where Macbeth is a chef.
Yeah, I saw that one, too. James McAvoy, right? So, up to now the only versions I've seen have been rather drastic re-settings without the original language.

Macrology wrote:
Also, you should make a footnote of Welles' Voodoo Macbeth. It's essentially the play that launched his career, along with his radio work. Some footage even survives from the climactic moments (included in the link).
Huh, interesting! I did watch the video and, uh, I hope his 1948 film is better! :D

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Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:02 am
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Hank wrote:
I look forward to lurking in this thread! :heart:
Lurking is good. Watching is even better. :)

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Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:03 am
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I just remembered I've seen the 2010 adaptation with Patrick Stewart. Don't recall much but the atmosphere was pretty neat.

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Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:13 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Lurking is good. Watching is even better. :)

Oh, I've already started to hunt down copies of these flicks... and I will be sure to watch them. This way I can be an informed lurker. I always like to maximize my lurking potential. ;)

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Sat Sep 26, 2015 8:31 pm
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The Last Baron wrote:
I just remembered I've seen the 2010 adaptation with Patrick Stewart. Don't recall much but the atmosphere was pretty neat.
Cool. I considered that one, but picked the stripped-down Ian McKellen one in its place. Acting trumps sets for Shakespeare, I think.

Hank wrote:
Oh, I've already started to hunt down copies of these flicks... and I will be sure to watch them. This way I can be an informed lurker. I always like to maximize my lurking potential. ;)
:heart:

Speaking of which, this isn't the most accessible bunch of films, for sure. Amazon Instant has the Argento, the Polanski, and the Kurosawa, at least.

I really tried to find 1999’s Macbeth in Manhattan – about a cast where the behind-the-stage tensions start to mirror the play, with Harold Perrineau as the "Chorus." Has anyone seen that one?

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Sat Sep 26, 2015 11:24 pm
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Jedi and I are going to watch the Polanski Macbeth today at 3:00 pm central daylight time, if anyone else is interested. But if the time doesn't work for you, that's the beauty of this thread: chime in whenever you get a chance!

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Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:23 am
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Image

Ha, this is a strange one. I was expecting a more traditional production, but the set is so weird – more like a Star Trek planet than a castle, and only an alien who'd never seen a human head would design that square crown. The set has obviously been designed for striking, high-contrast, crazy-angle shots, and he makes the most of that. He put so much work into the screenplay, squeezing in as much as possible while condensing and rearranging for simplicity's sake. I'd have preferred fewer changes, though, and that priest/co-conspirator figure is just baffling. Welles is a giant among lesser actors, but he compensates by hamming it up. There are lots of great, memorable images here, but I'm not a big fan of his drunk Macbeth.

Image Image
Image Image

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Sun Sep 27, 2015 7:58 am
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What about his accent? :P

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Sun Sep 27, 2015 7:10 pm
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Colonel Kurz wrote:
What about his accent? :P
Haha, yes. I tend to be forgiving of accent problems, but he only seemed to attempt it once in a while. Why try at all then? *

Those who have seen it, am I being too hard on this one? Welles is always fun to watch. Maybe that's enough?


*Edited to add: I've done more reading and it looks like this is probably an artifact of restoration. Welles apparently did the original voice-overs with accents, but the studio made him do them over without. So, I'm back to forgiving.

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Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:27 am
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Ah, this one's good. The lighting, the colors, the weather, the walls – such tactile mise-en-scène! And the acting! I don't think there's a weak link, even among the bit parts. Macbeth is great, Lady Macbeth is greater. Love when she cries in frustration as she calls her husband a coward. The half-spoken-half-voice-over approach to the monologues is graceful and effective on top of skilled performances. The treatment of Rosse was sort of startling. He attracts our attention in the play with his dual stories to Macduff, but Polanski makes an opportunistic villain out of what's essentially just clever editing. It's a nod to those who cooperate with evil and a strong dose of cynicism in an already bleak play. And then, of course, there's the violence. My stomach actually dropped as I realized we were actually going in that door with Macbeth. We have to see it all in this one, no respite, every narrated horror unveiled. It's powerful and, in a way, unquestionable. At least, I don't feel like arguing with anything here. I think it's great!

Image Image
Image Image
Image Image

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Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:42 am
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Agreed with all of the above! Unsurprisingly, Polanski's take on Macbeth is... well, very Polanski but this is one of his best in terms of mise-en-scène. Growing up with all those Shakespeare adaptations of the 1990s, it's more common for directors to focus on the lines and the costumes and ignore everything else, but here Polanski is just as, if not even more concerned with the construction and infinite minutiae of each individual scene. This might be theatrical, if the visual scope of the film wasn't so wide and deep: from the start, we see rolling hills and endless sand flats. And even the interior scenes are often given a wide angle, with different parts of an antechamber or dining room chopped up into several different pieces; the wide shot giving us the impression that a castle can be a big and lonely place. We were talking about violence while watching this, and I think this is key: Macbeth is Shakespeare at his bloodiest, and so you need a bloody director in order to tell the tale properly. Fortunately, Polanski has never been shy with the ketchup.

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Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:53 pm
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Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

(Now I know which shot you mean, Maiden!)

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Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:58 pm
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I'm very fond of both of those versions.

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Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:23 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
And even the interior scenes are often given a wide angle, with different parts of an antechamber or dining room chopped up into several different pieces; the wide shot giving us the impression that a castle can be a big and lonely place.
Ah, now I know what you mean. Yes.

And, oh, those screencaps!! You even got the weird, pinkish sun. (And, yes, Eowyn!) I'm jealous, Jedi; you saw the real movie. I'm so down on Amazon Instant Video right now. :(

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Mon Sep 28, 2015 9:38 pm
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Trip wrote:
I'm very fond of both of those versions.
Hmm, even the Welles? I admit I probably over-value acting, whether naturalistic or Expressionist. But, in this, I thought Lady Macbeth on down were just bad. Maybe they didn't have enough to work with in the condensed screenplay. I did find a defense of the priest character here:
Quote:
As for introducing a priest to the story, Welles later explained that "the main point of that production is the struggle between the old and new religions. I saw the witches as representatives of a Druidical pagan religion suppressed by Christianity – itself a new arrival." It is a fascinating attempt to rewrite (and, perhaps, one-up) Shakespeare, while the character’s death in battle is a bitter commentary on the fragility of Christian doctrine in the face of brutal warfare.

I still don't like it, though. :P

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Mon Sep 28, 2015 9:39 pm
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Since having seen a version called Lady Macbeth done in my high school, I tend to appreciate in any movie version more than I maybe should. The Lady Macbeth herself was allright though.

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Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:15 pm
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Hmm. I think Jeanette Nolan (in the Welles Macbeth) is appropriately steely, but a bit too icy to be persuasive. On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine lots of men falling for the petulant tears of Francesca Annis in the Polanski. Though I'm sure most Lady Macbeths over the years have been closer to the former than the latter.

Screw your courage to the sticking-place!

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Tue Sep 29, 2015 1:51 am
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Who will watch the Tarr with me?

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Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:30 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Hmm. I think Jeanette Nolan (in the Welles Macbeth) is appropriately steely, but a bit too icy to persuade. On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine lots of men falling for the petulant tears of Francesca Annis in the Polanski. Though I'm sure most Lady Macbeths over the years have been closer to the former than the latter.

Or they're like Tabu.

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Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:50 am
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Interesting passage from James Morrison's book on Polanski:

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https://books.google.it/books?id=Cr86JR ... &q&f=false

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Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:26 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
Interesting passage from James Morrison's book on Polanski
Ah, good find. Liked this bit in particular:
Quote:
Metaphors become grotesque realities (especially in Polanski’s film, where the bear Macbeth likens himself to turns up as an actual animal), while bodies are nothing but flesh and blood stuck in a base world, however they try to elevate themselves through thought and speech. A metamorphic principle infuses the play’s savagery, as thoughts become deeds, words become things, and things turn into smirched totems, like Macbeth’s severed head.

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Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:59 am
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Colonel Kurz wrote:
Tabu
Watching that one this weekend. :)

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Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:00 am
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Post Re: MACBETH: What's done is done

Shieldmaiden wrote:
Who will watch the Tarr with me?

I can't believe you've all seen this already!

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Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:35 pm
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Post Re: MACBETH: What's done is done

I shall!

Anything but that awful-looking western Kurz proposed...

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Thu Oct 01, 2015 1:32 am
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Post Re: MACBETH: What's done is done

Western? Something went wrong there.

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Thu Oct 01, 2015 3:25 am
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Image

Mmm, this was delicious. It's not only a solid, clever transposition of Shakespeare into modern crime drama, it's also a mesmerizing piece of cinema, where sound and image converge in powerful ways. (It reminded me a bit of Infernal Affairs.) Love the skill with which the romance has been written into the famous story and the "witches" are a stroke of genius! Plus, it has perfect pacing, with great care and detail given to relationships and motive-building, and, then, that rapid denouement. There's a real feeling of the world crumbling around him, of the past all coming back to haunt him, culminating in that dramatic point-of-view shot. Just an excellent movie all around!

Image Image
Image Image
Image Image

<Back to list.

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Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:10 am
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Great movie.


Sun Oct 04, 2015 11:28 pm
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I love how Lady Macbeth also starts out as the older king's lover and seduces him into the murder, that he commits out of love, not out of lust for power. Plus how Tabu plays her, of course.
As for the witches, I really like how the approaching forest in their prediction is changed into the sea, and how that plays out.

Also,
Image

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Sun Oct 04, 2015 11:34 pm
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I'm following this thread in spite of having seen very few adaptations of Macbeth. The only one I've actually watched is the Polanski, which we watched in high school. I'd like to see it again

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Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:25 am
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I saw the Polanski the same way, yay for high school English teachers?

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Mon Oct 05, 2015 5:48 pm
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