Posted in Reviews, Top Stories by - December 11, 2015

Justin Kurzel’s “Macbeth” takes Shakespeare’s play to great cinematographic heights, yet fails to push boundaries and become something special.

We’ve seen many adaptations of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, both in film and television. Director Justin Kurzel’s version is a relatively straight to the point adaptation, includes star power with Michael Fassbender as Macbeth and Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, but lacks inspiration in the screenplay, written by Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie, and Todd Louiso. As a fan of Shakespeare’s work as a whole, and certainly his epic tragedy “Macbeth”, I was excited to see what artistic license could be taken in this screenplay. A Shakespeare adaptation doesn’t have to vary drastically from the play, such as Baz Luhrmann version of Romero and Juliet(1996) staring Clair Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio, did to be an exceptional film. However, to emerge from the ruins of other versions of the play, it does take a bit of moxie. Unfortunately we didn’t see that in this film, and with this screenplay, rather we saw a fairly routine version of Macbeth.

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, with a narrative portraying the Thane of Scotland under the consumption of a prophecy, told to him by three witches whose actual existence is more than questionable. This prophecy leads him to assassinate the King of Scotland in order to take the throne himself. The tragedy goes on to unfold the series of events leading to Macbeth’s eventual demise.

While the screenplay in this narrative fell a microscopic bit short of astonishing, the cinematography in this film is impeccable. Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw captures excitement and drama in every scene, truly forcing the viewer to to be encapsulated, despite the dull dialog over the course of the tragedy. Fassbender and Cotillard, along with David Thewlis’ performance as Duncan lead a cast with ripened talent, and it shows. The most compelling moments of this film take place when there is no dialog and we can see and feel the drama, illustrated immaculately by this talented lineup of actors. Director Justin Kurzel does an respectable job with his interpretation of Shakespeare’s play, considering he was working with a screenplay that lacked adventure outside of the ordinary. The acting in this film largely holds up the screenplay, as apposed to the screenplay bringing the most out of the actors. This version of Macbeth lacks depth and has few layers, resulting in mediocrity. 

This adaptation of Macbeth contains many valuable qualities, such as world class cinematography and exquisite acting, so my recommendation would definitely be to see this film. It certainly will not amaze you and leave you in awe, but it’s a respectable interpretation of the play itself, and has moments of immaculate scenery. This narrative is beautifully done, and if Macbeth hadn’t previously been done in film we would be amazed at the outcome. If nothing else this film brings us a true and pure depiction of Macbeth, staying as close to the play as possible.

Official Trailer:

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