There's a common superstition in the world of theatre. Believers swear that to speak the name of Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth or to quote from it backstage will inflict a curse on the speaker or the theatre itself.
This year Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard will team with Australian director Justin Kurzel for a new cinematic retelling of Shakespeare's classic tragedy, and if you dare whisper its name it might be to talk about the film's chances at the Oscars in 2016. Before we continue, absorb yourself in the trailer.
A thoroughly classic, utterly modern adaptation
Macbeth was written around 410 years ago, so the temptation to mess with the source material, to relocate the story to a new setting or drag it into the 21st century (or even - gasp - to modernise the dialogue) is difficult to resist, but Kurzel has resisted - the film is set in the wilds of Scotland, the time period is unchanged and the dialogue as it should be.
But by collaborating with the insanely talented director of photography Adam Arkapaw (hot off the back of True Detective season 1), Kurzel's approach to this play seems to be visual and visceral. During the battle scenes in the trailer, tiny sparks of fire are picked up in glorious HD. The technology, if not the setting, is very modern indeed, which should help the film appeal to audiences who don't necessarily care much about that English dude from the 16th century.
Won't the curse of Macbeth kill the film's chances?
That depends on how much time you have for superstition. In their glowing review of the movie, the Hollywood Reporter praised the "rapturous, swooning chemistry" of Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, and predicted awards season recognition for both. Even in the trailer it's clear that Fassbender has locked into Macbeth's violence and fear perfectly.
But perhaps even more promising is Cotillard's performance as Lady Macbeth, a character so famous that her name alone is a synonym for scheming behaviour. If you're a fan of House of Cards, you'll know that Claire Underwood (the excellent Robin Wright) has plenty of the Lady Macbeth archetype in her DNA, although she's less likely to kill herself than to betray even her husband in her quest for power. Cotillard, without playing the role as too obviously villainous, seems to understand her character's deadly thirst for power.
The reality is that the real threat to Fassbender's Best Actor chances comes from the man himself, because he's also drawing raves for the titular performance in the Steve Jobs biopic, which will probably have more mainstream appeal than Macbeth, particularly as it comes from Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle and the pen of The Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin. But even if he knocks him-self out of the race, Cotillard for a Best Actress nomination seems like a certainty.
Next stop: Assassin's Creed...
Justin Kurzel will team up with Fassbender and Cotillard again for [Assassin's Creed](tag:437814), the movie based loosely on the massively popular video game series which begins shooting this year for a release next Christmas. There are some surprising similarities between the two stories, so if you're super stoked for Creed, you should probably check out Macbeth this year.
And you won't have to go to the cinema to do so, because Amazon Instant Video will have the streaming rights to the film for an "exclusive window" not long after its cinematic release in December.
If you haven't seen the trailer for Steve Jobs yet, that's also worth checking out - Sorkin's script smartly sets all of the action just before three crucial Apple press conferences, allowing us to see the unlikable genius in his element. Those of you who loved The Social Network should already be getting their panties twisted for this one, and those of you didn't-- [ed- don't be stupid. everybody loved that film.]
I'm pretty excited for Macbeth, not just for Michael Fassbender - who absolutely killed it in Inglorious Basterds and was snubbed for Shame, which deserved a best actor nomination (even if it did make the entire make audience feel insecure about their manhood - screw you, Fassbender!) - and Cotillard, but because it's pretty rare to see a truly fresh take on Shakespeare four centuries later.
Are you as stoked as I am for Macbeth, or would you rather see Steve Jobs? Leave a comment or create your own post about it.