A line from William Shakespeare's Macbeth, from Act 5, Scene 5:

Macbeth's plans are falling apart around him.

MACBETH
Wherefore was that cry?

SEYTON
The queen, my lord, is dead.

MACBETH
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing
.

The obvious meaning is that life is like a bad play (or as one wit commented, a decent play spoiled by a lousy third act).

The second layer is Shakespeare the playwright commenting on what makes good theatre: bad drama is that in which sound and fury, special effects and battle scenes occur without context.

Good drama doesn't need any special effects at all to interest us, just the portrayal of human beings. Give us effects with a human drama, a reason to care about the spectacle and we will be captivated.

The sound and fury were there to be brought out from the script of Macbeth: staged swordfights, marching armies, costumes, wierd magicks, and as a finale, the villain's severed head.

All that has changed since then is the size of the effects budget. This criticism is still of great applicability to much of modern cinema and its idiot directors.

See also whiz-bang, thank you ma'am

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