Macbeth, directed by Justin Kurzel and starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, could be a very interesting movie and is due to be released later this year. It will certainly not be the first time there has been a film adaptation of Shakespeare’s prestigious play after films in 2006 and 1971 and then countless television versions, the best of which perhaps being the one including Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. So I wonder if this rendering will have the ability to offer something new to a story that has been done so many times before.
While not necessarily obtaining the title Macbeth, this harrowing story has been exploited in productions of several different varieties. ‘A power crazed man commencing on a pursuit for power and glory but ultimately falling victim to an obsession with said power’ is a storyline findable in many films, books and TV shows and, for the most part, such a narrative can be accredited to some sort of inspiration from this old play. Breaking Bad an obvious example, with House of Cards there as well, but the real question is; is this story yet worn out?
Kurzel’s adaptation seems to be reverting to the traditional style of the play and opting not to take a modern or unexpected twist, which, I feel, bodes well for its chances of success. Fassbender is a big shot in Hollywood at the moment and is truly a remarkable actor, but, conceivably, this threatens to pose the danger of glamorizing what has been strictly appreciated as a raw, inclement tragedy and, therefore, has the potential to frustrate a large segment of the audience. I myself would not necessarily agree with this view and am under the impression of believing Fassbender is fully capable of offering something altogether chilling and mesmerizing to what is an iconic role. Those who have seen Twelve Years a Slave are fully aware of Fassbender’s frightening capacity to illuminate pure insanity and because of this, his portrayal of Macbeth is something to look forward to.
Fassbender, in whatever role he is playing, can inspire pity and relatability, and this fits him nicely to the character. With regard to Cotillard, who has appeared most memorably in Inception, has been cast as Lady Macbeth. Considering Lady Macbeth is initially perversely sadistic and wanting of evil and sinister characteristics, but then grows demented and basically cracked, Cotillard is potentially a very good selection based on her ability to both endear and captivate but also shock and frighten the audience. Of course, with regard to this particular partnership, individual performances, even if they are wonderful and impressive, are worthless if the chemistry isn’t poignant between the main two. I would say both actors have the immense ability to make it work, but such a famous literary couple will surely be difficult to accurately recreate.
Macbeth generally seems to be in safe hands. Those involved in the production have also worked on films such as Les Miserable and The King’s Speech, two undoubtedly excellent movies. Les Mis probably has more in common with Macbeth, in terms of the general ambiance of each movie, and The King’s Speech won several Academy Awards which suggests perhaps Macbeth could be up for a couple of awards if it dually delivers.
Kurzel has had a reasonably modest past as a director with films such as Snow Town, Blue Tongue, and The Turning, but he seems to be trusted to manufacture a worthy adaptation of this movie. There is quite a particular audience that Macbeth is aimed at and I am sure Shakespeare lovers have unnervingly high standards for adaptations, and it will be interesting to see if they are left satisfied with this portrayal. I, on the other hand, am someone who just appreciates good acting and good film-making, so I am personally hoping for a bit of both come October 2nd when Macbeth storms onto our screens.