Macbeth (2015)

Macbeth (2015)
  • Time: 113 min
  • Genre: Drama | War
  • Director: Justin Kurzel
  • Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Elizabeth Debicki


The ambition of Macbeth, the Thane of Scotland to be the King of Scotland, leads to the killing of his own king, King Duncan. His betrayal was successful and he took the kingdom throne for himself. But, his arrogance manner started murders, madness, and insecurity in the kingdom where he soon becomes a paranoia tyrant- that fears his own enmity.


  • I think the film should either have been word to word completely based on the play (by Williams Shakespeare), or the changes made should have been a lot better. One prime example of the latter that comes to my mind is the Bollywood film ‘Maqbool’ (2003). The changes made in it that differ from the original play, ‘Macbeth’, make it an even better as a film, and is my most favourite film ever based on any of Shakespeare’s play.

    One flaw that I can point to is, Malcolm, the son of the slain king, flees despite being an eye-witness to the murder of his father. Surely he could have screamed and shouted on the spot, gathered all the king’s servants etc. and avoided himself being killed by Macbeth (as did the latter threaten) and, at least could have got it crystal clear on the spot as to who murdered king Duncan. Instead of all this, prince Malcolm flees, settles in another country and never returns! The murder scene and the whole conspiracy surrounding it was best depicted in the aforementioned Bollywood film.

    Secondly, either Lady Macbeth should have been shown to have committed suicide, as the original play depicts, or her should should have been depicted due to some serious causes. Showing that depression, guilt or hallucinations alone caused her death seemed a bit overboard. This too was brilliantly depicted in the aforementioned film: she suffers from guilt and depression before dying, but her death was caused due to Maqbool/Macbeth having picked her up from the hospital in a very weak condition, straight after a delivery.

    All the criticism aside, the film overall was still quite good. The performances by everyone were solid. Still, despite it being the film that I most desperately wanted to watch in the last three-four months, it did not entirely live up to my expectations.

  • Masculinity maligned often turns malignant. Ambition can be murderous, and sometimes the fear of failure is more motivating than the actual achievement. Macbeth, Shakespeare’s Scottish play, is cloaked in blood and, to borrow a phrase from the tragedy, blood will have blood.

    The latest film version begins with an image of a dead child on a pyre and ends with a young boy running toward a future of more violence. Children represent continuation, which would seem hopeful, but here they are the perpetuation of their fathers’ blood-soaked desirings. For Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) and Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard), however, there is to be no lineage and that lack paves the way for them to nurture their treasonous thoughts into deadly deeds.

    From the outset, Macbeth is a man more at ease on the battlefield than on the homefront. Peace and quiet unsettle him, and the scorpions that shall later erode his mind are birthed in the aftermath of combat. Approached by the Weird Sisters, he is taken aback by their prophecy of him as the future king, but even more puzzled by their prediction that his friend Banquo (Paddy Considine) shall be the father to a line of kings. Lady Macbeth hears of the women’s foretelling and encourages her husband to cast aside his hesitations. To not seize his destiny would be cowardice, she goads (later, when he once again succumbs to weakness, she ripostes with a more pointed “Are you a man?”). This pivotal scene is staged as a literal seduction and consummation – Macbeth asserts his answer and, by extension, his manhood as they have sex – and it threads a perverse eroticism into the fabric of the moment.

    Heavy is the head that wears the crown for, once Macbeth assumes power, he cannot rid himself of the guilt and self-questioning that twist his mind and spur him to slaughter. “What’s done is done,” Lady Macbeth reminds him, but even she is soon horrified by the monster she has helped her husband become. Screenwriters Todd Louiso, Jacob Koskoff and Michael Lesslie foreground moral accountability by having key characters bear actual witness to significant events. Malcolm (Jack Reynor), for example, catches Macbeth clutching the dagger that killed the king. More provocatively, Lady Macbeth is wholly present at the burning of Lady Macduff (Elizabeth Debicki) and her children, which injects even more emotional ballast to her “To bed” monologue. Cotillard is a bold casting choice but a thoroughly perfect one. Her face – mostly bare save for the banquet scene where she sports her own warpaint, a wraparound streak of blue eye shadow – is a magnificent palette of emotions.

    Indeed, Shakespeare’s words take a backseat to the geography of faces, landscapes and other visual wonders that are the true narrative vessels. That may be a pont of criticism for purists, but interpretation shouldn’t be tethered to what’s on the page. The words are in no way dishonoured – in fact, the nursery rhyme rhythms of lines like “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” take on a more spine-tingling sway – but they are by no means the sole source of communication.

    This latest screen adaptation comes from Australian director Justin Kurzel, who has reserves of talent to support the high-reaching ambitions he has set for himself with his sophomore outing. This Macbeth is most decisively bloody, bold and resolute, possessed of a haunting power and poetic savagery. Kurzel and cinematographer Adam Arkapaw create breathtaking images that sear into the retina. Their stylised staging of the battle scenes that bookend the film is simply stunning – primitive, elemental, and brutal in its beauty. Akira Kurosawa is a primary influence (even the king’s kimono-like garb suggests as much), and the Japanese master of visual spectacle would have applauded Kurzel, Arkapaw and the rest of the production team’s accomplishments.

    Kurosawa himself took on Macbeth with his 1957 Throne of Blood, and also adapted the Bard’s King Lear into 1985’s Ran. Fassbender’s Macbeth often recalls King Lear, especially during the former’s more unhinged periods. There are a handful of exquisitely composed shots of Macbeth against a vast expanse of ocean, his figure resembling a lost man more than a king. Fassbender’s immaculate portrayal combines swagger and sorrow, virility and vulnerability, and his almost animalistic physical presence is balanced with his impassioned mellifluousness.

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