When given the opportunity to see Macbeth recently, I couldn’t refuse. I confess not knowing much about the story of Macbeth before this movie, but I’m glad this was my introduction.
Directed by Justin Kurzel, Macbeth tells the story of a soldier who receives a prophecy from a group of witches informing him that, one day, he will become King of Scotland. If you know the ins and outs of this Shakespearean tale, you’ll be able to anticipate how it follows: with a lot of ambition, arrogance, brutal murder and betrayal. If you don’t, then stay tuned for the movie when it comes out in December.
Michael Fassbender (X-Men, Shame) and Marion Cotillard (Inception, La Vie en Rose), playing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, should sell this film on its own. The amount of dedication a job like this one takes, especially from Cotillard, for her to control the accent and for both to memorize the author’s Early Modern English and also deliver long lines of dialogue with passion and conviction, is admirable. Of course, they’re professionals, but I can imagine that tackling such a task is not easy for just any actor. As much as it is a dense feature for a mainstream audience, watching both leads take on these powerful roles with brilliance will make up for any moments where viewers might feel like disconnecting.
From the few supporting names in Macbeth’s cast, Sean Harris stands out as grief-stricken Macduff in one of the rawest and most intense scenes of the feature.
The director’s brother, Jed Kurzel (Slow West, The Babadook) is responsible for the score in Macbeth. It accompanies the action and emotion in an epic and dramatic way, never leaving the audience indifferent.
But the pièce de résistance in this film is, no doubt, the cinematography. Adam Arkapaw’s (Animal Kingdom, True Detective) art is so amazingly executed that almost outshines everything else. There might be viewers who won’t enjoy Macbeth as a whole, but it’s hard to imagine anyone taking issue with the breathtaking visuals. The use of color, texture and, of course, taking advantage of the most beautiful Scottish landscape make for a whole experience. Couple the stunning shots with the director’s use of slow motion and graphic violence, and the result is pure poetry. Unapologetic and undeniably artistic from beginning to end.
All I could think about some time after seeing Macbeth was Assassin’s Creed (2016), considering that both Fassbender and Cotillard, again directed by Kurzel, and most importantly, Arkapaw as the director of photography, are all involved.
Directed by Justin Kurzel.
Play written by William Shakespeare. Adapted to screenplay by Jacon Koskoff, Michael Lesslie and Todd Louiso.
Starring: Michael Fassbender as Macbeth; Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth; David Thewlis as King Duncan; Sean Harris as Macduff; Paddy Considine as Banquo.
Music by Jed Kurzel.
Director of photography: Adam Arkapaw.
US Release: December 4, 2015.