Friday, December 11, 2015

Macbeth Movie Review

Michael Fassbender stars in Macbeth

All Hail, Macbeth!
by Haylee Grey Pearson (Contributing Editor)

All hail, Macbeth! And everything else about Justin Kurzel's adaptation of William Shakespeare's iconic tragedy.

Is he the one with the skull? Refresher: After a triumphant battle, Macbeth sees three (in the film, four) witches who deliver a prophecy that he will become King of Scotland. Macbeth says challenge accepted, recruits wifey (Marion Cotillard) and kills King Duncan (David Thewlis) fulfilling the prophecy and becoming King. Paranoia sets in, and Macbeth decides killing his friend and basically anyone who threatens his status is the right way to secure his power. Because this is Shakespeare, no one gets a happy ending (including Macbeth himself.)

Visually stunning? Yes, but not only in the wide pan shots of Scottish land/seascape, but also in the unique shooting styles that capture the heightened emotion of every scene. Most noteworthy, the opening battle which cuts from a silent, slow-motion painted still of Macbeth to an aggressive, bloody battle between soldiers. Jump cuts captivate the audience, as moments of hostility and anxiety were shot in hand, producing a shaky image (hello director trademark.)

The casting was phenomenal, although I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out if Banquo (Paddy Considine) was in Lost. He wasn't. Michael Fassbender and Cotillard are perfectly cast as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The Macbeths were the original Underwoods; and although there is a distinct cadence in their turmoil, you can’t help but be absorbed by their blue-eyed power. To be honest, I could watch Fassbender sit in a white room and read the terms & conditions to an iTunes account.

Shakespeare is timeless... perfect in its original form. As a former English major, the biggest disconnect I see in story-to-film adaptation is the need for fluff. The added layers of drama and meaningless subplots didn't enhance the story: It only deterred the audience, making them question, "Wait, what exactly was the point of that?" Particularly the number of witches. Anyone who has read No Fear Shakespeare knows there are three witches that haunt Macbeth. Three being a symbolic number in Christianity - cough, the Holy Trinity, cough - should not have been changed to four, even if the fourth witch was an adorable little girl. Why does Hollywood love ghost children? I'll never know.

The film is hauntingly beautiful and does a wonderful job of bringing Shakespeare to life. Whether you love Fassbender, Shakespeare or you're just trying to pass your high school English class, don’t wait for Netflix or HBO Go: See it big and loud, as Shakespeare intended.