“Oh, what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive” (Sir Walter Scott,Marmion, 1808). This could be a comment about MacBeth. The bloody tale is made even more striking in this film by the watchful eye of Director Justin Kurzel and the expressive cinematography of Adam Arkapaw. The two preface and enhance every scene with the camera and the brilliant use of colors, especially red. Red symbolizing not only copious blood, but as well the danger as fear and suspicion become activated when power and supremacy are issues. I think the battle scenes are especially well done in slowing down at times to show individual actions, but still maintaining the frenzy of such battles.
It seems quaint in contemporary times to see how much weight “prophesies” had in previous generations of man. But when three mysterious witches appear to Macbeth (Fassbender) prophesying his elevation to king and the nature of his death, he elaborates on their words with constructions from his own mind. But Macbeth’s friend/colleague and fellow warrior Banquo (Considine) is also present and hears prophesies related to him and his son.
Upon hearing that her husband was awarded positions of thane in two counties and then one being abruptly withdrawn, Lady Macbeth (Cotilliard) enters the picture. She believes the prophesies, and being as ambitious as Macbeth, sees no reason to simply wait for prophesies to be fulfilled. She urges Macbeth to take action.
When King Duncan (Thewlis) is killed, Banquo has some reason to suspect Macbeth, and when Macbeth senses this, we see the infective nature of paranoia, which blossoms freely in the rest of the plot.
Fassbender as Macbeth is flawless, and he and Cotilliard as Lady Macbeth make a perfect duo, carrying us through the tragedy and her ultimate guilt in bravado performances. Supporting actors Considine and Thewlis, along with Sean Harris (Macduff) and Jack Reynor (Malcolm) measure up nicely.
This is a very good production of a classic Shakespeare play, and it is noteworthy for the clarity of the dialog even though spoken in Shakespearean language—something oftentimes difficult to understand for American audiences.
A worthy new production of a classic tale.
Grade: B+ By Donna R. Copeland