McBeth versus Macbeth

        The movie Scotland, PA is a movie that is based on Shakespeare's 1606 story of Macbeth. It is about a man named Mac (James Le Gros) and his wife, Pat (Maura Tierney), who work in a restaurant called Duncan's. The story continues with the killing of the restaurant manager, Mr. Duncan (James Rebhorn), so that Mac can take over the restaurant for himself, but it does not turn out the way they expected. By the end of the movie, both characters meet their demise just like in the play.

        Scotland, PA opens with a view of three hippies, while the play of Macbeth, which begins with a short appearance of three witches. Mac comes across the three hippies--Stacy (Hippie #1) (Timothy 'Speed' Levitch), Hector (Hippie #2) (Andy Dick), Jesse (Hippie #3), (Geoff Dunsworth)-- at a carnival on his way home from this bar called The Witch's Brew, where he was out drinking with his friend Anthony "Banko" Banconi (Kevin Corrigan). The two male hippies take Mac to see the woman hippie, who tells him his fortune. In the play both Macbeth and his friend Banquo come across the three witches in the moor. The witches inform Macbeth that he is going to be the king of Scotland and that Banquo's descendents are going to be a line of Scottish kings. In the movie Banko does not have any children to speak of which is probably why the film makers left him out of the storyline of meeting the hippies. In the movie, the hippies appear only to Mac. They are only in his head, but to Mac and the viewers they are as real as the hands in front of his face. They seem to put ideas in his head and cause unexpected things to happen.

        Another character who has a deep impact on the Macbeth/Mac character is his wife. In both the movie and the play, she encourages him to kill the Duncan character so that he can take over. At the beginning of the play Duncan is the present King of Scotland, whom Macbeth's wife wants her husband to kill so that he can take over the throne. At the moment Macbeth and Banquo are just two of King Duncan's generals. In the movie Banko, Mac, and Pat (Mac's wife) work at the diner that Mr. Duncan owns. Mac's wife wants him to kill Mr. Duncan because Duncan has been taking all of Mac's good ideas for himself only to give Mac little credit for them. Pat wants Mac and her to take over the restaurant so that Mac can use all his ideas himself and have all the credit that she believes he deserves. She is the brains behind the whole operation, but Mac loves her so much that he would do anything for her, including murder.

        In the movie Pat goes with him to make sure the deed gets done. They are at first trying to get the numbers to the safe so that they can make the murder look as though it had been part of a robbery. They have Mr. Duncan tied up and they put him in front of the fryer to force the safe combination out of him. Mr. Duncan finally tells them and Pat races over to the safe to open it. She goes back to the place where Mr. Duncan and Mac are standing and realizes that Mac has decided that he cannot continue with the plot. She argues with him while Mr. Duncan is trying to slowly escape. Suddenly the three hippies appear, which scares Mac, causing him to get thrown off so that he accidentally bumps into Mr. Duncan, forcing him to fall face first into the fryer anyway. In Macbeth, Macbeth too has reservations about killing King Duncan until his wife assures him that it is what he needs to do. Macbeth gets visions, one of which is a vision of a dagger, which causes him to kill the king.

        Using the money that they stole from the safe, the McBeth's buy the restaurant from Mr. Duncan's oldest son, Malcolm Malcolm (as Thomas Guiry), who wants to get rid of it because he had already left enough money in his dad's will, and he hated having to work at the restaurant for his father. When they take over the restaurant, it is renamed McBeth's after they told Malcolm that they would keep his father's memory alive. Mac builds onto the restaurant as well, adding a drive-thru, which was one of his original ideas Mr. Duncan had tried to take credit for.

        Banko starts to get his suspicions about the McBeth's when he sees the burn mark on Pat's hand, which had been splattered with grease when Mr. Duncan fell into the fryer. The hippies come to Mac and inform him that Banko knows about what the couple has done and that he is going to tell the lieutenant, whose last name is McDuff (Christopher Walken). In the play Macduff is a "Scottish nobleman who is opposed to Macbeth's accession to the throne" ("Plot"). McDuff has taken on the case of who killed Mr. Duncan himself, so he interviews everyone to find out what has happened. Eventually Banko sets up an appointment with Lieutenant McDuff to tell him what he knows. To stop Banko from telling the lieutenant, Mac sets up a way to kill Banko without himself getting caught. He tells the mechanic at the car repair shop that Banko will pick up the company fry truck in the morning. Mac drives Banko there and walks him into the garage, where he shoots him with the gun of the homeless man that occasionally lives in the garage so that the gun cannot be traced to Mac.

        After the murder, Mac's wife had to keep ointment on the burn on her hand so that it will not hurt, but after a while the burn mark goes away. However, even though the burn is gone, she still thinks it is there; and to her it feels that it is getting worse and worse. She keeps her hand bandaged up, keeps it under the cold water, or shoves her hand into the ice compartment at the restaurant. When she cannot stand it anymore, she goes to the pharmacist and asks for a big tube of ointment, but he points out that she does not have a burn. Pat gets really angry she thinks that the pharmacist is crazy because clearly, to her, it is still there. I believe that, even though she does not want to admit that she feels guilty about Mr. Duncan's murder, her feeling the burn on her hand indicates that she really is guilty. This part of the story is similar to the story in Macbeth, where Lady Macbeth keeps seeing blood stains on her hands and even gets bouts of sleepwalking ("Plot").

        Mac's conscience also finally gets the best of him during a media event about all the new things added to the restaurant. In front of all of the townsfolk and the media, Banko's ghost appears to him, asking Mac why he had killed him. When Mac talks to Banko out loud, the townsfolk, who cannot see Banko, look at Mac as though he is crazy. Pat tries to cover Mac's ravings up by telling them that he has just been overworked.

        McDuff finally comes closer and closer to getting Mac for the murders until, by the end of the movie, Mac is killed, and his wife has committed suicide just like the fate of Macbeth and his wife in Shakespeare's play. Only in the play Macbeth knows that his wife has committed suicide and it causes him to sink into a deep depression. Once Mac and his wife are dead, McDuff takes over the restaurant for himself because he had always wanted to own a restaurant. Not only does he take the restaurant, but also he renames it McDuffs and only sells veggie burgers since he is a vegetarian.

        Scotland, PA is a great movie. It is really enjoyable to watch, and it has its eerie moments and its funny moments. It is a lot more fun to watch especially if the viewer knows the background behind Shakespeare's play. The first couple of times I have seen the movie, I did not really get some of it, but now I do since reading more of the plot. Knowing the plot of Macbeth has made me cherish the movie even more.

Works Cited

"Macbeth: Plot Summary." SparkNotes LLC. 29 Apr. 2006 (http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/macbeth/summary.html).

Scotland, PA. Dir. Billy Morrissette. Perfs. James LeGros, Maura Tierney, Christopher Walken. Film. Sundance Enterprises Inc., 2002.

Alaina Schroth

Table of Contents