Shakespeare is pretty quotable and maybe that's how he's made such a lot of money franchising all his work. Like a lot of people, I used to glaze over when we had to read Shakespeare at school. Hopefully also like a lot of people, I came to appreciate his writing later in life, mainly through films. Romeo + Juliet was probably the first, although I couldn’t admit liking that until I wasn’t at an all boys school.
“My worthy Lord, your noble friends do lack you.”
Everyone knows the story of Macbeth, even if they haven’t seen (or read, even!) it. Deluded, pussywhipped Lord kills his King and it turns out murder isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Bosh, put that in your GCSE paper. This retelling, directed by the excellent Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, The True History of the Kelly Gang) and starring Bedsit favourites The Fass™, Marion Cotillard and Sean Harris, has photogenic style as its USP.
If you're doing Shakespeare for the mass consumption, for Hollywood, you have to have some kind of twist, of visual or audio crossover uniqueness- Baz Luhrmann did it with contemporary setting and effervescent aplomb with his aforementioned Romeo + Juliet. In contrast, with echoes of sinister whispers, Kurzel’s film’s quieter moments linger in the ear. The battles and violence are bloody and bold, but shot to feast on ocularly, not get amped up by. This is not Braveheart.
MacBeth is a traditional yet modern take, well acted and which rewards more viewings because of how well crafted it is.
"After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well."
Shakespeare’s talent was not only his style of writing, which at the time may well have just been called writing, I haven’t read anything other than philosophy from that era (it’s turgid), but his storytelling and subject matter. Henpecked killers still exist, people still lust after power and most of all people still like hearing about these things. Macbeth, and this version of it, are a good blend of words and visuals. 8/10
RIP Anna: A Eulogy