Full of “sound and fury” is Justin Kurzel’s new cinematic adaptation of the classic play. Both an homage to the original text and a wonderfully inventive take on it, It’s a film with grit, blood and tears under its finger nails.
The story of the Scottish lord and his descent in to both greed and madness has been done before on screen. However, not like this. Kurzel’s creation is not a half arsed, arrogant transferal from stage to screen. It isn’t the product of a thespian unversed in the art of cinema. Instead it is an assuredly confident piece of cinema, full of depth both visually and textually.
To the eye, Macbeth is a staggeringly beautiful film. A somewhat inspired decision, cinematographer Adam Arkapaw treats the environment of medieval England almost as a character. The foggy moors, the wind swept heaths, the drenched battlefields, and the hospitable coast all fill the screen with an immense beauty. The wide open panoramas of highland landscapes bring to mind landscape artists like Alexander Nasmith. There is detail and poetry in these shots.
As if looking in a mirror, these landscapes offer a superb reflection of the play’s tragic characters – led by the viciously talented Michael Fassbender. Commanding attention, Fassbender portrays Macbeth as one of a man fatigued by the atrocities of war. His eyes sag with tiredness and famous lines like “Life’s but a walking shadow” ring with an echoing weariness to them. The weariness and crazed nature of Macbeth both scares and tortures Marion Cotillard’s fragile yet decisive Lady Macbeth, who although not quite the femme fatale the original text would suggest, is the spark that ignites Macbeth. Her incredibly big eyes captivate you when she alone holds the stage.
A film of bagpipes, majestic landscapes and battlefields covered in scarlet puddles, this version of the Scottish play is brutal. Its acting talent is rock steady. Fassbender and Cotillard are a power couple while other cast members like Sean Harris and Paddy Considine add a fantastic sense of conflict and torment. Kurzel has made a film of murderous intent.