Macbeth felt like a favourite bedtime fairytale from childhood which makes no sense to my adult self but is still as intensely fascinating as it was to me when I was an impressionable baby.
It is the sort of movie which one should watch before going to sleep; not that it is boring, oh no, not one bit! But its ethereal, dreamy quality transports one to another world – much like sleep and dreams.
I needed subtitles to watch this movie because I have never studied Macbeth, the original Shakespeare’s play, and it was clear in the first fifteen minutes of the movie that no spoken dialogues would make any sense to me without a written version running underneath.
My most favourite things about this movie are the cinematography and the music. They are basically what set the dreamlike despairing mood of the movie. If these two things weren’t so well done, then Macbeth would be a very mediocre movie. Of course, the sets, the make up and the costumes are brilliant as well but they would not have carried the movie far if the cinematography and the music had failed. This is my first time seeing the cinematographer, Adam Arkapaw’s work and I’m wildly impressed. Also, this is my first time listening to Jed Kurzel’s compositions and he nailed it.
As for the director, Justin Kurzel, again, this is my first time even hearing about him and I have a positive impression even though I won’t say that this work is exceptional. It makes me want to watch more of his works in future. Given the fact that Kurzel is retelling a story told over and over and over again for more than four hundred years, I’d have excepted something exceptionally exceptional by now. If not that, then at least some significant individual personal or artistic impression. Or maybe the dream-like quality of the movie is some form of his personal interpretation. However, this is a nice rendition of Macbeth. I liked the slow motion thing he worked with but I would have liked something more – more grotesque, something madder. Or maybe it is just that the writing wasn’t so strong.
Marion Cotillard‘s performance was much more consistent than Michael Fassbender‘s. Something felt off about Fassbender’s acting – again, Macbeth wasn’t mad enough, or it could just be the writing, which didn’t feel good enough. David Thewlis (King Duncan), Paddy Considine (Banquo), Sean Harris (Macduff) and David Hayman (Lennox, also of Taboo fame in my mind – James’ butler, Brace) were amazing. But since it is all about Macbeth, I wish that there was something better from Fassbender, especially since the hair and make up, and costume teams went to such lengths creating a delectable Macbeth.
However, I’ll probably watch this movie again because of the oneiric fairytale quality imparted by the colours and sound to a hopeless, cruel and fateful story. Fairytales, in my mind, aren’t supposed to be ‘good’ and aren’t supposed to carry a ‘moral’. Of course, there is some moral somewhere in Macbeth, but I can never quite understand why Macbeth fights so much against himself because of his crime if he is just an amibitious tyrant. Macbeth seems like an unlucky person brought to misery by fateful temptations and it is the stuff the original fairytales are made of – and I like what this movie did to the story as far as the visually and auditory senses are concerned.
Sometimes, this is all a movie needs to be.