macbethThe Witches Have Spoken
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Sean Harris, Jack Reynor, David Thewlis, Paddy Considine and Elizabeth Debicki
Director: Justin Kurzel
Scriptwriters: Todd Louisa, Jacob Koskoff and Michael Lesslie adapted from the Shakespeare play
Cinematography: Adam Arkapaw
Weinstein Company
Rating: R for violence
Running Length:  120 minutes
Every few years comes another adaptation of a Shakespeare play, whether it be the love/hate in “Romeo & Juliet” or the humor in “Much Ado About Nothing.” This time, it is “Macbeth,” and soon after Patrick Stewart’s performance of the play on PBS. This movie, “Macbeth,” stars Michael Fassbender and he is having quite a year, balancing this and his role of Steve Jobs. Actually, the two aren’t far apart.  Both had egos and treated other people like servants. Jobs thought he was kingly, while Macbeth was a king, if by force.
The story is set about the 11th century in Scotland where Duncan (David Thewlis) is the king and Macbeth (Fassbender) has his eye on the throne, but not quite the courage to take it.  His wife, Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard) does, and through prophecy and witches, the two decide murder is the answer to their quest.  After the deed, though, their moral fiber begins to fall apart, and superstition takes over instead of steel reserve. All this against a dark skyline, much red here and there, and a great deal of underhandedness  as you would find in any country’s dictatorship. The way to solve a problem is to eliminate it, plus their families. Malcolm (Jack Reynor), who Duncan wanted on the throne, has to run, while Macduff (Sean Harris) is out for justice. Oh, those witches, how they can get into someone’s mind.
Michael Fassbender does a good job of Macbeth, with beard, haunted expression and working with his wife, Lady Macbeth (Cotillard) who isn't as devious as some in the role. She looks almost angelic, at times, which could hide real emotions. This is a violent film of war battle and the use of color, silhouettes and background percussion for effect. No elegant castles here, tents are the norm and Scotland isn't depicted as having an ideal climate. It is the portent of doom. Fassbender does have good speeches and makes the most of them, but as with Shakespeare, they do go on and on. If a short sentence can convey emotion, why stop there?
As productions of “Macbeth,” go, this one is certainly adequate and streamlined, also clothing of that time is appropriate for a royal family. Not all of your favorite scenes may be here, but the ones that are, will satisfy. My favorite is Cotillard at a banquet, gaining control of the situation. Who is the real ruler there?
Copyright 2015 Marie Asner