Macbeth is the well known Shakespeare play, the story of a fearless warrior and inspiring leader brought low by ambition and desire, encouraged by his ambitious wife. A thrilling interpretation of the dramatic realities of the times and a reimagining of what wartime must have been like for one of literature’s most famous and compelling characters, a story of all-consuming passion and ambition set in war torn Scotland.
Director Justin Kurzel and designer Fiona Crombie have set the action in the Highlands in a violent and primitive Celtic society where Christianity would appear to have no stronger hold than the magic of the witches, portrayed as three undistinguished peasant women all marked with the same bit of scarified cross-hatching on their foreheads. The Macbeths’ village is one of tents grouped around a small wooden church; it is only when he kills the king that Macbeth ascends to a stone castle. The scenes on the battlefields, meanwhile, are filled with blood and gore, making explicit the chaos and the violence that lies behind the dynastic struggles of the play. In short, this Macbeth is not so much about getting ahead as it is about sheer survival.
Of the many versions of Macbeth on film, this version matches up favorably with the best two, the Orson Welles one of 1948 and Akira Kurosawa’s visual poem of 1957, Throne of Blood. Macbeth is played by Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard is superb as the pushy Lady Macbeth. Jack Reynor as Malcolm gives us a robust performance as the heir to the throne. David Thewlis sparkles as King Duncan, who Macbeth stabs to death to get his crown. It’s a striking production, well-acted and setting a powerfully dark tone and mood.
The director was nominated for the Palme D’or at the 2015 Cannes Festival.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall