Thumbnail Theater: Macbeth Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 2nd, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Thumbnail Theater: Macbeth is a wonderful educational resource and a terrific universal companion app to those who are studying Macbeth in school or are simply fans of Shakespeare.

I am very excited to be introducing this app to readers as this app features Michael Mills's Nine Minute animated adaptation of this tragic Shakespearean play.

Michael Mills is a British-born animator, director and producer - possibly best known for his Oscar-nominated animated shorts - ‘Evolution’ and ‘History of the World in Three Minutes flat.’

I do love his take on Macbeth. The animation style is sly and sophisticated, and with a tongue-in-cheek and will impress all ages.

Not only is this animated short included, but a terrific section, The Self Guide is also included with an impressive amount of information, both specifically about Macbeth as well as about life during this period of time in general.

There is so many great sections to explore, such as the main characters from this play and the complete text of Macbeth as well as the other works of Shakespeare. The Life and Times of Shakespeare and historical information about Scotland are included as well as information about theaters of this time period and a fascinating section on The Symbolic and the Supernatural.

Each of these topics is further broken down into sub-categories - some of my favorites being the discoveries and Inventions touching upon the scientific concepts of Copernicus and Galileo, the great Renaissance man - Leonardo da Vinci, and the importance of Gutenberg’s printing press, comparing it very wisely to today’s internet.

I think it is also great how the other works of Shakespeare are mentioned, such as the Sonnets, Poems, Folios and Quartos, as well as a section dedicated to famous Shakespearean quotes.

Other interesting information, like how the use of children instead of women as actors is touched upon, and I really enjoy how the superstition of the title Macbeth - never uttered while this play is under production - is also incorporated into this very rich encyclopedia of all things Shakespeare.

An impressive three hours of content is included that older grade school kids as well as adults will find very fun and informative. I appreciate how the included text can be narrated by Mills as his narration is wonderful, also allowing children who may be reluctant readers to gain a lot from this app by listening to it alone.

An interactive timeline and world map are also thoughtfully included that students of all ages will enjoy. Do tap on the animations as well, as some fun hidden hotspots are included, triggering some wildly witty animations.

It is great that an interactive mode also exists where one can watch the video and tap icons placed at the bottom of the page that will bring one to the corresponding informational section of this app, allowing one to gain further insight while watching the included animation.

This is very helpful in learning more about the various subjects within this app, but I did have some issues with getting back into the story after I perused the added info.

it would be nice if some sort of button was able to be tapped that would bring viewers back to the area of the video they were watching last. I also felt that the Self Guide of information took some getting used to in terms of its basic navigation -issues not too terrible but which could possibly be smoothed out in a future update.

I enjoy the additional clips of Michael Mills himself found within this app as well, exploring details further or giving instructions on how to best enjoy this app, but I found these clips to be of lower resolution, noticeable but not in a way that took away from the enjoyment of his presence, although the images of Mills himself are quite small, especially on the iPhone.

I also noticed that a few pages from the Self Guide did not have the included narration one would expect from this fully narrated app - an issue I hope can be worked out in the future.

Even with these minor notes, Thumbnail Theater: Macbeth is an app that I greatly enjoyed, both on its own merits and also because apps for older children are not as common as I would like in iTunes. I highly recommend this app to any student who is reading Shakespeare as well as to adults who would like to know more about this time period in general.

I am thrilled to learn that this app is first in a series like it, I will be on the lookout for more of these Thumbnail Theatre apps in the future as this one was terrific.