Director: Justin Kurzel
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jack Madigan, Frank Madigan, Paddy Considine, Lochlann Harris, Kayla Fallon, Lynn Kennedy, Seylan Baxter, Amber Rissman, Scot Greenan
Genre: Drama, War
Age Rating: 15/R
Running Time: 113 Minutes
When I had the opportunity to write a review for MACBETH, distributed by Studio Canal and released on Blu-Ray and DVD this coming Monday 1st February 2016, I jumped at the chance. This was a film I was gutted to have missed at the cinema last year, and one I really wanted to experience.
Justin Kurzel’s MACBETH re-tells the classic tragedy from William Shakespeare about the ruthless Scottish general called Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) who is foretold by three witches that he will one day be the King of Scotland. Assisted by his equally as power-hungry wife, Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard), Macbeth becomes corrupted by the thought of ruling Scotland and as a result murder becomes a second language to him. As the story persists we witness the damaging physical and psychological effects of greed and political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake.
On first impression, this is a very worthy Blu-Ray/DVD to own. With 3 great trailers to begin with; CAROL, THE PROGRAM and A BIGGER SPLASH, we are shown the endless amount of cinema and home entertainment genius to come from Studio Canal in 2016. In addition to this, the artwork on the home screen is so simple, yet beautiful, encompassing the brilliance of this film’s score and giving the owner the ability to look at the extras which are listed below. Rather than filling this disc with endless, useless extras which we will never watch, there are four key features which will, if anything, enhance your understanding of the film.
This leads me onto my next point. Unfortunately, if you are clueless on the story of Macbeth, I am afraid that you are likely to really struggle to follow or understand this visual masterpiece. Bear in mind that I studied this play over 10 years ago at school, even I struggled to understand what the characters were saying the majority of the time. Unfortunately, if you do not know a shred of Shakespeare, the constant dialogue of rhyme and 16th century expressions may be lost on you. As a result, unless you are an English Literature student or a Shakespeare expert, you spend most of the film simply watching expressions and actions, rather than listening, which to be honest, is an interesting and alternative way to watch a film. The one benefit of this, for the more unfamiliar audience, is that the lines which are in fact understandable have such a huge impact on the viewer! In short, I finished this film wishing that I had seen it while I was studying Shakespeare at school.
In spite of that, there is so much to praise about Kurzel’s masterpiece. The gripping music and the use of slow motion shots during battle, instantly throws you into the chaos of a civil war to begin with. It is this which allows us to see Macbeth’s ruthlessness, and witness the beginning of his journey into madness. This brings me on to Michael Fassbender (STEVE JOBS, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS). Once again, he proves to us why he is one of the best actors in the business at the moment, managing to engross the viewer throughout, even with the language barriers in his way. He is incredible to watch in this film, and the same can be said for his co-star and supporting actress, Marion Cotillard (TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES) who once again shows how frighteningly well she can play a villain.
One thing, in particular, which struck me about this film, was the brutality. We have all seen Shakespeare plays and even some previous film adaptations, which have all done their best to emphasise the ‘tragedy aspect’ of some of his stories, but Kurzel’s MACBETH single-handedly defines how much of a tragedy this story could have been in Shakespeare’s mind. There is no censorship on fights or deaths in this film, and at times you forget you are watching a work of Shakespeare, and instead feel like you are watching a brutal and gory tale like 300.
Overall, this film is a beautifully directed spectacle, with impeccable performances from its two lead actors, Fassbender and Cotillard, and a wonderful supporting cast. It has a brilliant score and it is full of graphic, yet stunningly shot battle scenes. It is simply an ignorance of the subject matter, or the language, which will hinder your appreciation and experience of this film, and unfortunately, the only thing stopping this from being a 4.5 ★ or even a 5 ★ review.
“They say blood will have blood.”
Recommendation: A definite purchase right here! 1 for Directing, 2 for Acting and 3 for a modern classic which should be appreciated in Blu-Ray. Just be wary if you have never come across the story before.
BUY IT TODAY!
Macbeth is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Studio Canal on Monday 1st February 2016.
Along with the full feature-length film, the disc includes:
A BIGGER SPLASH
‘Reimagining A Classic’
‘Macbeth Casualty Of War’
‘Interview With Director Justin Kurzel’
Thanks to Studio Canal for the opportunity to watch and review this film.