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Macbeth: DVD staring Michael Fassbender

March 9, 2016

Macbeth [DVD] Click Here to buy at

This is truly the Scottish play. Filmed mostly in Scotland, with Scottish accents throughout, there’s no doubt at all that this is a rare opportunity to see “Macbeth” in all its local atmospheric glory.

And it does look glorious. Panoramas of desolate moorland, grey and cold, moving to oranges and reds as the heat rises and flames consume all. Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography captures it all, and the interior sets, particularly Fiona Crombie’s castle and church are impressive, particularly populated with Jacqueline Durran’s   costume designs.

Michael Fassbender in the title role, and Marion Cotillard as his wife make a convincing couple. His gruffness with her French vulnerability and determination are perfect casting. The rawness of their plotting – always a physical encounter – gives an unusual edge, while the soliloquies are always delivered with an intimacy rarely captured on film. In this, Cotillard admits being assisted by Justin Kurzel’s directorial choices, including giving her a child to play to at one crucial point.

There’s an impressive David Thewlis as Duncan, while Sean Harris finds in Macduff a vengeful grief which manages not to overwhelm but give motivation to his later actions.

The only irritant is in the script adaptation. Famous lines go missing, and there are gaps in explaining a few actions. With the actors able to deliver lines to this standard, it can be distracting to find the “heath” replaced by “battlefield” and a dagger not “seen still.”

Full marks to the score, though, with a composition for the children something of a highlight other stage directors may wish to consider.

A few strong scenes aside (this version does not spare gore nor sex), it is certainly better than most film versions of the play as an introduction to it. Several scenes may well capture, particularly in Scotland, the minds of those studying the work for higher school examinations.

For the average Shakespeare fan, there are distinct moments of “yes, that’s how I imagined it to be,” and several of “they got the right actor, there” too.

A very decent introduction to the Bard, and well worth watching – not just for the experts.

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