The storyline of “MacBeth” can be resumed to the following: Macbeth is a man obsessed by ambition. Done!
Scotland is in the throes of civil war, the background goes, and the survival of King Duncan’s reign depends on one last battle with the loyal Macbeth commanding his troops.
DID YOU KNOW? There are 420 different screen adaptations of the works of Shakespeare, including ones made by Akira Kurosawa and Roman Polanski.
Among the many authors who have staged Shakespeare—and specifically also Macbeth—in recent time Orson Welles, through his own adaptation, emphasized one essential aspect of Shakespeare’s work: the Bard’s plays are so rich and multifaceted that even in posterity, when deciding the near-impossible task of reworking them, one has to encompass as many different readings of the original as possible.
Kurzel’s adaptation (he is an Australian filmmaker; this is his second feature film) offers few takeaways except for mayhem, pathos and soaring music, and, in absolute fairness, some great acting by the best actors money can buy (also of note, the presence on this cast of the extraordinary Sean Harris, who played Ian Curtis in 2002’s 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE). This MACBETH, a hollow adaptation of one of our most treasured texts, takes itself for granted. Kurzel immerses this bigger-than-thou-and-I tragedy in mind-blowing, mist-filled landscapes that show what proud medieval Scotland probably looked like : a nature, hostile and violent, in which a film’s characters slept under tents and appeared to be trapped in their roles.
The grandiose battle scene at the end is shown in slow-motion with red-colored filters. It looks cool and yes, I get it, the colors have been intensifying throughout the movie to echo MacBeth’s descent into his own mind’s seventh circle of hell. But it also left me cold. Hard to feel much, and yet the screen is glistening with emotion.