I have been debating which topic I would like to use to kick off this blog. Well, I recently watched Justin Kurzel’s film adaptation of Macbeth, which was released at the beginning of December. I must admit that I tend to be quite wary of film adaptations of Shakespeare’s work. So much of the success comes down to presentation of the dialogue, and there are times when films have missed the mark. I will be delighted to say, however, that I was pleasantly surprised by this film.
Kurzel did an incredible job in bringing the play to life in the darkest way imaginable, without going overboard. He was able to bring out the best in everyone on set, and was successful in creating a dark, brooding atmosphere with deep, emotional tension. This was my first time viewing one of his films, and after doing so I have decided on explore more of them in the near future. He is directing the upcoming Assassin’s Creed film, and if it is as good as Macbeth, then it will certainly be worth seeing in theaters.
On the note of the dark atmosphere, the cinematography in this film is incredible. You may not know Adam Arkapaw by name, but you might have seen his work in the first season of True Detective. It was a wise choice for Kurzel to include him in this project, because Arkapaw has such an eye for both flare and subtlety. Every shot is very visually stimulating, whether it be a raging inferno in the climax, or a simple shot of Lady Macbeth sitting alone in a room. Every shot is beautiful, and yet filled with such great intensity and overhanging shadows of rage and madness. It looks like Kurzel brought Arkapaw along to make Assassin’s Creed as well, which is another reason to be checking that out once it hits theaters.
When it comes to Shakespeare, the actors chosen are incredibly vital to the storytelling. Michael Fassbender stars as the titular character, and does so flawlessly. The calm, haunting tone of his voice and sudden outbursts bring the character life in a way that I’ve only seen Branagh be able to do. Opposite of Fassbender, we have Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth. I am always a bit hesitant when I see her name attached to a film. I’m not saying that she is necessarily a bad actor, I am merely saying that for whatever reason, her work has been a bit hit or miss for me. This performance was definitely a hit. She is able to portray the manipulative side of Lady Macbeth while keeping the character’s humanity intact. The chemistry between the two of them is phenomenal, and they almost seem to feed off of each other’s performances just as their characters feed off of each other’s madness. And they certainly play madness well.
Macbeth is one of the most iconic plays of all time, and it has finally gotten a worthwhile film adaptation. From Kurzel’s direction and Arkapaw’s cinematography to the performances of Fassbender and Cotillard, this film is destined to be remembered as one of the best Shakespeare films of our lifetime. This is even without mentioning the immaculate score and editing within it. If you are not a fan of Shakespeare’s writing style then you might want to pass on it, but if you are a fan, then I definitely suggest that you check this film out. I know that I certainly will be watching it again in the near future.
Overall rating: 4/4 Stars