Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders... Read allMacbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.
This Scottish-themed film does open up on the battlefield. There are some interesting scenes as the warriors prepare for battle and the battle itself is shown well. (A later battle also has some interesting two-sworded battle scenes). During the battle, witches appear, and make a prophecy about the King of Scotland. The film tells the story of an attempt to fulfil the prophecy and of the aftermath of that attempt.
The male lead is played by Michael Fassbender and the female lead playing opposite him is Marion Cottilard. They are superb in their roles and must have actually suffered hard for their craft. Location shooting for the film was in the Isle of Skye in Scotland. This reviewer has paddled in water there, and can assure readers that even in the height of summer, it is like putting your feet into buckets of ice. Yet, we have Mr Fassbender in water in a scene, and Miss Cottilard, far from her native France, is seen scampering about barefoot and lightly dressed. Bravo! it should be said that there is little sight of the summer in this story. There are many, many, scenes of bleak mountains and bogs and moorland. The climate is cold and wet, with swirling fogs often covering the rough terrain. The scenes are in fact very bleak and compare with those in the Viking film 'Valhalla Rising' (2009).
Elizabeth Debicki, who also appeared in this year of 2015 in 'Everest', here does a standout scene, as relevant to us now as it was in the era it was set in. Sean Harris, who like Michael Fassbender, also appeared in Prometheus (2012), here delivers a brilliant and powerful performance. There is a scene in the 1995 Scottish film 'Braveheart' where William Wallace is floored in shock when he encounters the English champion. Here, in this film, Sean Harris, similarly has his emotions plunged to the depths, more than once. His acting is superb throughout the film.
David Thewlis seems to have an ability to really inhabit his roles. The source material, (book), for the film 'Seven Years in Tibet' (1997) seems to show he got the part just right. So too, for his OTT role in the 2010 film 'Mr Nice' which again matched the source material in the book of the same name. In this year of 2015 though, his performances have seemed more subdued but still true to the source material. I found his portrayal in 'Legend' to be fascinating. Here, in this film, he takes a part and makes it very believable. The part he plays is very like one today and he seems to play it like that too. There are some obvious differences too in that role of course, but that is the essence of the plot of this Scottish film.
We also get good supporting roles from Paddy Considine, David Hayman and Jack Reynor.
Much of the location shooting is on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, though I did spot Bamburgh Castle too. Ely Cathedral is also featured. The cathedral scenes are spectacular as are the castle interiors, however the bulk of the film is shot in realistically grim surroundings. Our thespians spend most of their time wallowing in blood and mud, and the climate and terrain are both as gloomy and grim as the storyline. The use of hand-held cameras does detract though. As do some of the special-effects that take us out of the moment.
This film is a good introduction to Shakespeare and his Scottish play. Political students can learn lessons from this story today, just as they can from 'I Claudius'. For those interested in the subjects of assassination, conspiracy, politics and statecraft, then the writings of the Renaissance Florentine statesman and writer Niccolo Machiavelli may also be of interest.
This film of the Scottish play serves as a good way to engage a modern audience and as such has been a worthwhile project. 9/10.
- Oct 10, 2015