Movie Review: Macbeth (2015)


Macbeth is the most visually gorgeous movie I've seen in the theater this year. It is also the hardest to understand, as I am not a Shakespeare fan and have always had issues interpreting his work. I read the play back in high school and the story was definitely interesting; although a screen retelling does help figure out what is going on, plot-wise, the language in the movie still hindered my enjoyment of it.
Normally I'd try to put the plot into my own words, but instead I'm going to leave you with two different synopses:

The short version, from IMDb: Macbeth, a Thane of Scotland, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

And the longer version, from Wikipedia: Macbeth is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy, and tells the story of a brave Scottish general named Macbeth who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the throne for himself. He is then wracked with guilt and paranoia, and he soon becomes a tyrannical ruler as he is forced to commit more and more murders to protect himself from enmity and suspicion. The bloodbath and consequent civil war swiftly take Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into the realms of arrogance, madness, and death.

I had brushed up on the story before seeing the film, which was good, because I at least had some semblance of what was going on. However, this film is definitely not for your "regular" moviegoing audience of 2015. You have to really love Shakespeare to 1) figure out what the characters are saying and 2) wholly enjoy the movie.

That being said, the visuals, like I mentioned before, were the best I've seen this year, maybe in the past two to five years. The film was shot in England and Scotland, with Macbeth actually taking place in Scotland, and, unsurprisingly, there were a lot of moors and fog. The movie could also be classified as a war movie; when it starts and when it ends, Macbeth is at war, and that's also partially the reason he gets to be king. There were also a few scenes where the audience gasped, as unexpected things or killings happened, which was interesting.

The acting in this film was also phenomenal. Michael Fassbender was superb as Macbeth, and Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, later his queen. You can tell that Fassbender really threw himself into the role, and he fully commits, as does Cotillard and the supporting cast.

Maybe see this movie. I'm not assigning a star rating to this one because it most likely would not do it justice. If director Justin Kurzel had decided to stick to modern-day English and not use the play's Shakespearean language, I probably would have really liked this film; instead, it stands out for its acting, cinematography, and music (which was appropriately creepy, mostly classical), but was a film from which I couldn't wait to exit the theater. If you are a fan of Shakespeare's plays, then by all means, definitely see this film - but if you are not a fan, or can't translate the words, then I'd suggest skipping it.

Macbeth is in theaters today, December 11th, and is rated R with a runtime of 113 minutes.

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