Macbeth – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

September 16, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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Of all Shakespeare’s flawed heroes, Macbeth is surely the hardest to care about.  Watch him bring about his own downfall as he pays the price for treachery.

The plot hinges on a prophecy given to Macbeth by three witches that he will one day become Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland.

In case your memory needs a wee jog, Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) is a Scots warlord who returns home victorious from war.  King Duncan (David Thewlis ) makes him Thane of Cawdor as reward. Mindful of the prophecy, Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard) urges him on to kill his king.  Macbeth gains the throne but racked with fear and guilt, goes mad and kills those close to him.  His lady wife succumbs to melancholia and dies.

In the opening battle scene with daubed­-faced warriors, arcs of blood sprayed in slow motion convey the carnage of war – without too much gory detail. This vivid and muscular production, much of it filmed outdoors, is not a filmed version of the stage play.

Macbeth can be seen in a new light and viewed as a man possibly suffering post-traumatic stress from all his years away fighting while his wife is grieving from the death of their only child.

Many of the actors speak in a strong brogue that take a little getting used to (even if you are Scottish) but does not detract from the power of the language.

Shot on location in Inverness, cinematography by Adam Arkapaw (Animal Kingdom) captures the grim weather and harsh landscape of the Highlands.   Ely Cathedral  – which in reality lies much further south –  stands in for Dunsinane.

Fassbender is magnetic as a man who has lost his moral compass and grip on reality.  Cottillard has such a pure and wicked tongue you forget she is French; all the performances are strong.

Macbeth has been filmed by Orson Welles and Roman Polanski. Justin Kurzel (Snowtown) has directed a hypnotic rendition of one of the Bard’s great tragedies.

The final scene at Birnam Woods is shot through a haze, making Macbeth’s final moments all the more poignant. This one could spoil you for future stage versions.

4/5 MA15+  113mins  2015  Released October  1st

Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Elizabeth Debicki, Paddy Considine

Directed by Justin Kurzel

Cinematography by Adam Arkapaw

Music by Jed Kurzel

Writing credits by Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie, Todd Louiso

Roz Tarszisz interviews produce Emile Sherman


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