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Review: Macbeth

Michael Fassbender in Macbeth. Credit: StudioCanal.

All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter.

Michael Fassbender in Macbeth. Credit: StudioCanal.
Michael Fassbender in Macbeth. Credit: StudioCanal.

A few weeks ago, I finally got to see Macbeth in the cinema, having been distracted the last time I tried to watch it. The film, based on Shakespeare’s classic The Tragedy of Macbeth, is about a Scottish general named Macbeth who plots to murder his King and take the throne for himself after receiving a prophesy from a trio of witches.

Justin Kurzel’s adaptation is faithful to the original, complete with thick Shakespearean language, and stars Michael Fassbender (X-Men, 12 Years a Slave) and Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose, Inception), both excellent, as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth respectively. The film’s visuals were stunning, in particular the use of colour and scenery to define the atmosphere. The motif of red throughout the film was especially powerful. Highlights included the opening and closing battle scenes, the banquet, and Macbeth’s ‘tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow’ monologue, which Fassbender delivered stunningly. Also impressive were the witches, who commanded a haunting presence throughout the film.

Macbeth, like many of Shakespeare’s plays, is hugely significant in terms of its impact on literature and culture over the years. My inner economist smiled as Macbeth spoke of a ‘‘bloody and invisible hand’’, knowing that this inspired Adam Smith’s idea of an ‘invisible hand’ guiding the free market – a key concept in economics.

Macbeth 3
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in Macbeth. Credit: StudioCanal.

The film is best seen with a knowledge and understanding of both the play itself and the language used – perfect for study at school, perhaps. Lacking this, however, would leave the viewer hopelessly confused and unable to enjoy the film. At times, it can be a hard story with which to engage.

Overall, a worthy adaptation that will please Shakespeare fans, but perhaps not the most suitable introduction to the Bard.

★★★☆☆


Macbeth is rated 15, lasts 113 minutes, and is no longer in cinemas. Check outs its Wikipedia, IMDb or Metacritic pages for more information. Watch the trailer on YouTube.