“O, full of scorpions is my mind!”
I walked into the cinema with expectations high. Michael Fassbender is rapidly becoming one of those rare actors whose touch seems gilded. Winning critical acclaim for films such as ‘Hunger’, ‘Shame’ and ‘Prometheus’, he now is given the chance to portray one of the greatest characters on the biggest stage. Alongside Fassbender, playing Lady Macbeth is the mesmerising Marion Cotillard.
So far, so starstruck.
To cut to the chase, I sat through a completely engrossing adaptation. Visually, the film is striking, stunning, even haunting. I have noticed that in screen adaptations of Shakespeare, there is often a great emphasis on the cinematography. In Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 ‘Romeo + Juliet’, we were given a lush, almost cartoonish version of fair Verona.
Starring and directed by Ralph Fiennes, 2011’s ‘Coriolanus’ was a grey, gritty modern day retelling of the titular character’s fall from grace, set in a modern day war-torn state.
In the same way as films before it, the archaic nature of Shakespearean English almost plays second fiddle to the visual. Battle scenes play out in near silence, the screen saturated with reds and yellows. The highlands of Scotland are dour, harsh and unforgiving, you practically hear the gales howling between the cinema seats.
That being said, the powerful delivery that Fassbender and Cotillard deliver is worth of much praise. Both actors play their characters which a wonderful sense of duality. Macbeth begins as humble and loyal, yet descends into madness after the murder of his King, Duncan. Cotillard’s Lady Macbeth may begin as the Machiavellian influence behind her husband, yet soon comes to fear the man she has played a part in creating.
I can’t praise this film highly enough. To take a relative Shakespearean novice, and leave such a lasting impression on me is no mean feat. It is a rich, captivating adaptation that will surely spark a revives appreciation of Shakespeare’s works.
If you’re in Newcastle, get tickets to see Macbeth here.