Monday, 19 October 2015



Director: JustinKurzel
Rating: 15
Running Time: 113 minutes

Verdict: *****

          “Instruments of darkness tell us truths,” breathes Banquo at the start of Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth, a declaration that Kurzel demonstrates right from the start of his epic film. It opens in darkness, in total silence, and, as the mist creeps across the barren landscape, hooded figures dressed all in black materialise on the screen.

                Kurzel is innovative in his opening. The first image is not one of the bloodthirsty battles and murders that Macbeth is so famed for. Rather it is of an angelic, blue-tinged little boy, wrapped in a shroud and lying on a funeral pyre. The grieving parents, assumed to be Macbeth and his wife, clasp each other as they bid goodbye to their son, the father laying coins over the little boy’s eyes.

Parents & Villains          

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are transformed into objects of sympathy, not immediately seeming to be the wicked couple that both Michael Fassbender (Macbeth) and Marion Cotillard (Lady Macbeth) so expertly portray. Theirs is a story that begins with loss. And therein lies Justin Kurzel’s triumph. He humanises the Macbeths with this opening, making their steady unravelling over the course of the film even more powerful.

          The couple’s son becomes the constant undertone of the whole film, morphing first into a young man who is killed on the battlefield and then slowly taking shape within many different scenes, from Fleance’s (Banquo’s son) escape through the woods, to the burning of Macduff’s little boys at the stake. The boy becomes a “dagger of the mind” for Fassbender, as he manically sets out to murder entire families, not just the individuals who have offended him.

A Dark Depiction           

 Fassbender is extraordinary as Macbeth, all haunting stares and manic laughs. The pain that he feels as he mentally collapses is etched across his face, dancing across his eyes, felt by the whole audience as keenly as he feels it himself.

             Cotillard alongside him is breath taking as the instigator of the couple’s schemes. Indeed she produces one of the film’s most poignantly heart breaking scenes with her monologue in the church. Dressed in white and with the camera’s focus unwavering from her face, tears fill her eyes and the audience held its collective breath so as not to disturb her.

              Though the film begins in darkness, Kurzel ensures that no real light is ever found, with the only colour coming from the bloody wounds and the fires that constantly burn in almost every scene.

           As the brilliant orange sun sets over the awesome scenery, Fassbender’s head falls on his chest. Left alone with his sword and the power of his final waking moments, the camera pans round to young Fleance as he cautiously picks up the sword. A new generation, taking off into the burning night.

Pic iPhone6 - a hastily fashioned notebook in the darkness of the cinema

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