Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter...

Good to be back at the movies on a rainy afternoon, with just 5 of us in the auditorium, so almost a private screening of this new version of The Scottish Play - very stripped down and pared back, from Justin Kurzel - its perhaps the first of the new autumn blockbusters heading our way now that the dismal summer (here in the UK) is over and we sink into autumn and the new Awards Season. Coming up will finally be CAROL and BROOKLYN and HIGH RISE and THE LOBSTER, not to mention THE LADY IN THE VAN and my friend Martin says THE MARTIAN is next year's Best Picture Winner - hmm, it may be too soon for another Sci-fi win so soon after GRAVITY - a lot of us turned our noses up at INTERSTELLAR ...

But back to Scotland, land of mists and mountains and as depicted here (a lot of it filmed on the Isle of Skye, one of my favourite places) a cruel, pitiless place; did the Highlands ever look so bleak?.... After Welles and Kurosawa (THRONE OF BLOOD, 1957) and the 1971 Roman Polanski it is interesting to see this latest vision - great visuals and that unsettling discordant score (Jed Kurzel) but sometimes a fatal slowing down of pace so some sequences start to drag and we are not sure who is who among the mostly faceless extras, if you did not know the play you would be all at sea. Highest praise though to Michael Fassbender - again astonishing us after SHAME and 12 YEARS A SLAVE, and Marion Cotillard as his Lady Macbeth. Did I mention it all looks and sounds great?  It starts though with a scene Shakespeare did not give us: the Macbeths at the funeral pyre of their child - perhaps to humanise them more, and did Lady Macduff and her children have to be burned alive at the stake - though it makes for a great panniing shot over that desolate landscape.
Its certainly a blistering, blood-stained adaptation with its ingenious staging of familiar scenes and paring down the text which makes whats left of the 400 year old verse feel fresh. The three witches on the blasted heath are interestingly done here too. I have liked its wild dialogue ever since the Classics Illustrated version I first read as a kid. Unlike all those HAMLETs though I have never seen it staged - though I do have two other versions to watch, but maybe not right away: Ian McKellan and Judi Dench as the Glamis it-couple in 1980, and a BBC version with Nicol Williamson and Jane Lapotaire who should both be ideal too. . 

1 comment:

  1. A great review, Michael; beautifully written as always. It would appear you liked it more than I did. Fassbender didn't impress me at all and I hated the score. It was well photographed (possibly the only Oscar nomination it's likely to get). I just realized that GRAVITY didn't win Best Picture (lost to 12 YEARS A SLAVE) so THE MARTIAN really does have a chance. Still, there are a lot of big hitters still to come between now and the end of the year.