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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Staller Spring Film Series: “Macbeth” review

Macbeth Cast at Cannes Music Festival 2015 PC Georges Biard
Michael Fassbender, left, Marion Cotillard, center, and director Justin Kurzel, right, promoted the latest film adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The movie was featured in the Spring Film Series at the Staller Center on April 8. PHOTO CREDIT: GEORGES BIARD.

“Macbeth,” the latest film featured in the Spring Film Series, premiered at the Staller Center on April 8.

Directed by Justin Kurzel (“Snowtown,” the forthcoming “Assassin’s Creed”), the adaptation of the Shakespeare classic  stars Michael Fassbender as the tragic hero and Marion Cotillard as the conniving Lady Macbeth.

While there are a few minor changes from the source material, “Macbeth” bears a great resemblance to its source material.

The film rarely strays from the original play and makes excellent use of Shakespearean dialogue.

This fact, along with the Scottish accents and impersonations, sometimes makes the dialogue and speeches difficult
to understand.

Still, one does not have to be a Shakespeare buff to appreciate the most recent interpretation
of “Macbeth.”

From the hauntingly beautiful landscapes to the striking cathedral interiors, “Macbeth” is a visual marvel.

The bleak, almost inhospitable atmosphere of medieval Scotland is perfectly captured by Kurzel and cinematographer Adam Arkapaw. In fact, the film succeeds so well in this regard that many of the scenes are distressing simply because of the way they are shot. Even the daytime scenes are cold and unforgiving.

The movie could have benefited from a slightly more vibrant color scheme, although the drained palette does work for the setting and from a
thematic standpoint.

Additionally, the few scenes that add splashes of color stand out in comparison to the majority of the film.

Apart from an overuse of slow motion, the action and battle scenes excel. Their hectic and relentless natures do wonders for the film’s gritty atmosphere, while also providing an interesting look at Macbeth himself.

The battle scenes are, as one might expect, particularly violent and gory.

Fortunately for any squeamish viewers, these scenes are few and far between.

In most Shakespeare adaptations, the critical success rests primarily on the shoulders of its lead actors.

This is no different for Kurzel’s “Macbeth.”

Following his powerful performances in “Twelve Years a Slave” and “Shame,” Fassbender continues to impress with his take on the tortured King
of Scotland.

Fassbender is right at home in the world of Shakespeare, perfectly balancing the gallantry and the cruelty that make Macbeth such an iconic character.

French actress Cotillard’s performance as Lady Macbeth is equally mesmerizing.

Cotillard masterfully displays the complexity and inner conflict of Macbeth’s wife.

The performances of the supporting cast are also quite strong, especially Sean Harris’ portrayal of Macbeth’s foil, Macduff.

Kurzel’s “Macbeth” is a worthy addition to the Shakespearean cinematic genre, combining powerful performances and beautiful cinematography with the timeless source material.

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