Movie: Macbeth (2015)

Posted 9 August, 2016 by Lianne in Entertainment / 4 Comments

Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, 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.


I finally watched this movie, hurray!!! I’ve been eyeing this movie for so long, yet when I finally got my hands on it, it still took me a number of weeks before I finally settled down to watch it.

Omg how stunning was this movie? I have to talk about that first because it’s what stood out for me from the get-go: the landscapes and the settings used and the cinematography really exudes a sense of atmosphere to the story, that these characters’ actions and their personalities are very much defined by their surroundings (plus, how stunning are these UK locations? For a moment I admit I thought they filmed in Iceland just because of the starkness and remoteness of these places). The way the film was shot was also very interesting, with lots of contrasts, often times solely the character still amidst the setting, wide shots, etc. From the trailer I was initially a bit worried about the use of the slow motion frame in the battle sequences and other scenes as it’s been overdone in the past, but it actually works when you think about the frame of mind that these characters are in.

On a related note, I love the soundtrack! I actually listened to it before watching the movie, which I thought was interesting (reminded me a bit of Icelandic instrumental meshed in with traditional folk sound) but listening to it with the movie really ramps up the emotions and the overall visceral-ness of the film. My favourite track hands down for me has to be this one:

Speaking of the visceral-ness of this movie, wow, the performances were great. I had seen the Polanski adaptation at school but I don’t remember much of it, and I have yet to watch the Kurogawa film Throne of Blood but I thought the preformances in this film was great. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard were fantastic as the main characters, and Sean Harris is a standout as Macduff. I don’t know what else to say about their performances, it was fantastic to watch. I think Fassbender and Cotillard’s quieter character moments were my favourites (Macbeth when he finds out Lady Macbeth had died (“tomorrow…and tomorrow…and tomorrow” took a very haunting tone) and when he realises that Macduff was to be his downfall), Lady Macbeth in the abandoned church).

The film of course takes a few liberties and extrapolations from the play, which at first made me wonder (namely placing at the beginning of the film Macbeth and Lady Macbeth at their child’s funeral) but then thematically it ties in together quite nicely (having no issue, Macbeth not only seeks to kill his enemies but also wipe out their families). At first I also wasn’t sure how or why it would inform the Macbeths’ ambition for power, but I heard afterwards how the actors approached it as them being in so much pain and grief over the loss of their child, which I suppose makes sense, all of their focus just turned to the possibility of having absolute power and they just got carried away with it. It still feels like a bit of a jump to make (the pan to Lady Macbeth receiving word and delivering that speech of hers about doing whatever it takes to achieve that power still felt stemmed from personal desire as opposed to misplaced grief, but I’ll let it go). I heard coming into this movie how the director approached this film as Macbeth suffering from PTSD, something I never really thought about, but it really also informed the performance and Macbeth acting the way he was from time to time: was Macbeth really seeing Banquo’s ghost in the hall or was that his imagination/guilt? The back-and-forthness at the beginning wasn’t just conscience talking but felt like a man weary and affected from war and the displacement from a war setting to a peace setting and still committing such a crime. It’s interesting to see how approaching a Shakespeare play from one angle can really affect your reading of it.

Oh, also I love how all of these themes run right through to the end: that final scene of Fleance taking Macbeth’s sword and that shot juxaposed with Malcolm taking his sword and walking away from the throne just screams how the cycle of violence with continue (after all, the witches did say that Banquo’s issues would start a line of kings).

Macbeth was a fantastic film and an excellent adaptation of the play. Beautifully filmed, strong performances, thematically cohesive, and just emotionally brooding and visceral, I cannot recommend it enough 🙂

Rating: ★★★★★

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4 Responses to “Movie: Macbeth (2015)”

    • I admit, I had a hard time reconciling that opening scene with Lady Macbeth’s “Come, you spirits/That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here…” speech. But I was intrigued by this approach nonetheless just because I could never really think of her as a sympathetic character (and I wrote about it last year for a Femnista article too, lol).

  1. Shakespeare adaptations can be a bit hit or miss for me but I ADORE Fassbender and Cotillard so I was automatically attracted to this one^^ Now that I’ve read your impression of it, I will bump it up my watchlist 😀 I feel like my memory of Macbeth isn’t great though…I wonder if I should reread first LOL!

    • Oh, I think you will love this adaptation, Micheline. Hmm, maybe a re-read would help a bit; I did get a sense from watching it where the changes were made (some subtle shifts of dialogue from one scene to another), but otherwise it was pretty close to the source. I thought about re-reading the play before watching it but in the end just jumped right in, lol. (But I know I will definitely do a re-read of Coriolanus before watching the Ralph Fiennes adaptation) Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this movie when you get to it! 🙂

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