Makibefo (1999)

For his first feature film, Alexander Abela went against all the advice of seasoned professionals by going off to Madagascar with a film crew of just two, himself and the sound designer Jeppe Jungersen, to film an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth together with a cast of local tribesmen and women as actors. For the location they chose Faux Cap, an isolated community of Antandroy fishermen at the southern most tip of the island. It is to these people, most of whom had never seen a film before let alone television, that Alexander suggested devising Makibefo. Improvisation  was the name of the game and from the canvas of Macbeth they adapted the play for the screen.

Alexander Abela was born in England in 1965. Prior to becoming a film director he worked as an oceanographer, but switched careers in 1997. After completing his debut film Makibefo, Alexander returned to Madagascar to stage his second feature film, Souli (2004), an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello starring Eduardo Noriega, Makena Diop and Aurélien Recoing.


In a land washed by the ocean, a tribe of people lived in sight of sands and crashing waves. Their king was a noble king, who gave his people peace and harmony. And amongst his subjects many were good and true. But none more so than Makibefo. Indeed, it was the king who entrusted Makibefo to capture a fugitive and bring him back to the village. On the way Makibefo, in the company of a trusted friend, met a witch doctor, who told him that though the king was merciful he was also weak. He prophesied that a time would come, as surely as the tides, when peace and harmony would no longer sweeten the lives of the people. The witch doctor looked deep into the eyes of Makibefo and saw that the gods had singled him out as a future leader. He inscribed solemnly the ancient symbol of the favoured one on his headband. The king indeed was merciful and pardoned the fugitive. But his son had no mercy and killed him instantly. The witch doctor proved to be the teller of truths and Makibef began to believe that he was a man destined for greatness. His wife, too, had understood the ancient symbol. Her husband had been blessed by the gods. She exalts him to overthrow the king. Makibef recognised the truth in his wife’s words. But he knew too, that once he had committed the ultimate treachery, there would be no turning back. The blood that they would wash from their hands would not so easily be washed from their souls. — This is a tale of damnation.


Mark Burnett, Queen’s University Belfast
What an excellent production! The accompanying leaflet and translations are first-rate. A wonderful contribution to Shakespeare on film resources.

Mariangela Tempera, Università di Ferrara
A fascinating film and an excellent DVD. I look forward to more titles.

Susan Fletcher, Durham University Library
Very helpful and speedy service in supplying the DVD. I’m sure our Library users will greatly enjoy this unique production.

Marcus Pitcaithly, Oxford
I’d been looking for this film for years. I was delighted to track it down; it’s even better than I’d heard. It bears comparison with “Throne of Blood”. Highly recommended.

Mary Pittman Jones,  Abu Dhabi
I must echo these comments. Philipp Hinz provides personalized and rapid service – first rate – I received the DVD in Abu Dhabi faster than I have with other services I’ve used. The film is better even than reviews led me to believe it was – not to be missed…

Ian Bentley
Excellent service and a superb film: both the company and the director (and actors/crew etc) highly recommended. All lovers of Shakespeare and serious culture should see this.


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