Macbeth (2015 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Justin Kurzel|
by William Shakespeare
|Music by||Jed Kurzel|
|Edited by||Chris Dickens|
|Box office||$13.2 million|
Macbeth is a 2015 British-French-American adaptation of the Shakespeare tragedy directed by Justin Kurzel and written by Jacob Koskoff, Todd Louiso, and Michael Lesslie, based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name. The film stars Michael Fassbender in the title role and Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth. The film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The film has received positive notice for the depiction of the lead character by Fassbender and for the adapted writing of the film script.
The film starts with the funeral of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's child, with both parents grieving for their loss. The funeral is not in Shakespeare's play, nor does the play directly mention the death of a child, but in Act 1, Scene 7, Lady Macbeth says "I have given suck, and know how tender 't is to love the babe that milks me," so the loss of a child can fairly be inferred.
Macbeth, who supports King Duncan in the civil war, is leading royal troops into a final battle. Macbeth emerges victorious, but there are heavy losses, including many boy soldiers. The battle is observed by three women with a small girl and an infant. They approach Macbeth and Banquo, hailing Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor and future King, and Banquo as a father of Kings, before disappearing in the mist.
Elsewhere, Duncan hears about Macbeth's victory and is brought the Thane of Cawdor who, deemed to be a traitor because he has allied himself with the Norse invaders, is stripped of his title and executed. The King orders his servants to take the title of Thane of Cawdor to Macbeth, who reacts uncertainly. Macbeth sends a message ahead to his wife, Lady Macbeth, telling her about the witches' prophecies. Lady Macbeth then prays to the dark spirits in the village church, asking them for guidance. When Macbeth and his soldiers return, and her husband tells Lady Macbeth that Duncan will stay one night as their guest, she urges Macbeth to kill the King to fulfill the prophecy made by the witches. Duncan arrives at the village and a feast is being held, where the King pronounces Malcolm as his heir. Macbeth still hesitates and Lady Macbeth persuades him to commit the deed, while she slips a sleeping potion to the King's servants. After the feast ends, Macbeth sees a ghost of one of the boy soldiers who had been killed during the battle who gives him a dagger and leads him towards Duncan’s tent. Macbeth brutally slays Duncan. Malcolm enters the tent and, seeing what Macbeth has done, flees in fear. Shaken, Macbeth goes to his wife and gives her the daggers he has used to kill the King. Lady Macbeth rebukes him, saying that he should have left them in the tent and she goes herself to place the daggers in the hands of the sleeping chamberlains. Later she meets Macbeth in the church where they both wash the blood from their hands and she tells him that the water has washed their deed away.
In the morning, Macduff enters the tent to wake Duncan, only to discover that he is dead. Macbeth summarily executes the sleeping servants to prevent their denial of the murder. Macduff and Lennox, a Scottish noble, discuss that as Malcolm has fled to England that puts him under suspicion of being involved in the murder. They also admire Macbeth’s justice on the supposedly-treacherous servants in the rightful fit of anger. With Malcolm gone, Macbeth is asked to become King of Scotland. After the coronation he sits in a sour mood in his chamber where Lady Macbeth comes to him. He complains that killing Duncan was for nothing as Macbeth has no heirs to inherit the crown which will pass to Banquo and his son, Fleance, according to the prophecy. He invites Banquo with his son to a banquet and finds out that they both plan to leave. As Banquo is becoming suspicious, Macbeth sends three assassins to murder him. Banquo is killed, but Fleance escapes to the woods.
During the evening, Macbeth makes a comment about Banquo not keeping his promise to be at the feast. When the assassins arrive, Macbeth asks if they have succeeded and is enraged when he finds out that Fleance has escaped. Then Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost in his armour standing among other guests next to the table. Macbeth is afraid and starts to talk to the ghost which is unseen by anyone else present. Lady Macbeth tries to calm everyone by claiming that her husband is unwell, but Macbeth continues to rave, which prompts Macduff and his wife to leave the feast despite the King ordering them to stay. Lady Macbeth dismisses all the guests and takes Macbeth back to their chamber.
Macbeth travels by night to talk to the three witches. Once he finds them, they show him a vision of slain soldiers who tell him to beware of Macduff, and that Macbeth shall be King until Great Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill, where the royal castle is built. Finally, the ghost of the slain boy soldier who gave him the dagger tells Macbeth that he won’t be slain by any man born of a woman. The King is found wandering the hills by Lennox who tells him that Macduff has fled to England. Anxious at this, in a fit of rage, Macbeth orders Macduff's family and servants to be killed. Lady Macduff and her children are captured and burned at the stake, while a distraught Lady Macbeth watches the execution. After the burning she takes out the daggers that were used to kill Duncan and repeatedly washes them.
Meanwhile, Macduff meets up with Malcolm, who is gathering troops in England to march on Scotland. Ross and Angus inform Macduff about the murder of his family and servants. Stricken with grief and anger, Macduff swears revenge and both he and Malcolm (who supports Macduff) join forces to challenge Macbeth.
Haunted by guilt, Lady Macbeth returns to the church in her village, which is now abandoned, and laments of the terrible deeds that have been done, and of how her hands are covered in bloodstains. She then sees the ghost of her dead child which she urges to go to bed. Then she wanders in the hills and sees the three witches as she walks towards them.
In the castle, rumours spread that Macbeth has gone mad and his subjects fear his anger and tyrannical behaviour. Macbeth is told that his wife is dead. Saying "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow", he then lifts her body and carries it around the chamber in despair. Seyton then brings him news that Malcolm is leading an army against him and Macbeth orders his armour to be brought to him.
Macduff sets the Birnam Wood on fire, with the smoke and ashes blowing towards the castle, seemingly making the witches' prophecy come true. Macbeth leaves the castle to face the attacking army and engages in a duel with Macduff. Macbeth is confident that he will win as "no man born of woman" can kill him. Macduff then tells him that he was untimely ripped from his mother's womb and, using Macbeth's distraction, he stabs him. Macbeth starts to regret the mistakes he has made through his tyranny, despite knowing all too well that it's too late to redeem himself. Rather than surrendering, Macbeth refuses to accept defeat and to bow down before Malcolm. As soon as he finishes making his final speech to Macduff, Macbeth allows himself to be fatally stabbed by his nemesis. The three witches that were observing the battle leave when Macbeth dies on the battlefield. Immediately after Macbeth's death, Malcolm is hailed King of Scotland and he, Macduff and their forces abandon Macbeth's corpse and make their way to his castle.
Malcolm leaves the throne room while Fleance takes Macbeth's sword and charges through the empty battlefield, disappearing into the smoke.
- Michael Fassbender as Macbeth
- Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth
- Paddy Considine as Banquo
- Sean Harris as Macduff
- Jack Reynor as Malcolm
- Elizabeth Debicki as Lady Macduff
- David Thewlis as King Duncan
- David Hayman as Lennox
- Maurice Roëves as Menteith
- Ross Anderson as Rosse
- James Harkness as Angus
- Seylan Baxter, Lynn Kennedy, Kayla Fallon and Amber Rissmann as the Witches
- Lochlann Harris as Fleance
- Hilton McRae as Macdonwald
- Scott Dymond as Seyton
- Rebecca Benson as Maidservant
- Gerard Miller as Macbeth's messenger
- Roy Sampson as Doctor
Principal photography took place over seven weeks in England and Scotland. On 6 February 2014, it was announced that principal photography had begun in Scotland. On 21 February, filming took place at Hankley Common in Elstead, Surrey. On 26 February, the cast and crew were spotted on set at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland with almost 200 extras. Other locations used include Quiraing in Skye, and Ely Cathedral in Ely, Cambridgeshire.
Costume designer Jacqueline Durran was in charge of the costumes for the film. Durran took reference from a book called the Tilke which is sort of encyclopedia of folk costume, compiled and illustrated in the 1920s by a German artist and ethnographer, Max Tilke.
A couple of photos from the film were revealed on 18 April 2014, followed by two teaser posters on 14 May. The first trailer was released by StudioCanal on 4 June 2015 and crossed over 2 million views.
Character posters featuring Fassbender and Cotillard were released on 27 August 2015. The first North American trailer was released by The Weinstein Company on 1 September 2015. A new pair of posters were released on 4 September 2015. In the Philippines, the film was marketed as Macbeth: Warrior King.
In October 2013, The Weinstein Company acquired distribution rights to the film. Macbeth premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival on 23 May and was released in the United Kingdom on 2 October 2015. The film had a limited release in the United States across five theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco on 4 December 2015, before expanding theaters on 11 December. The film will be made available through Amazon Instant Video shortly after its theatrical release, as part of a deal between The Weinstein Company and Amazon. The film was released in the Philippines by Pioneer Films on 13 January 2016.
Macbeth has received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 79%, based on 156 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Faithful to the source material without sacrificing its own cinematic flair, Justin Kurzel's Macbeth rises on the strength of a mesmerizing Michael Fassbender performance to join the upper echelon of big-screen Shakespeare adaptations." Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Writing for The New York Times on 3 December 2015, Manohla Dargis complimented Fassbender's depiction of the lead role stating:
Kenneth Tynan once wrote that 'nobody has ever succeeded as Macbeth' because the character shrinks from a complex figure into a cowering thug. The exception, Tynan continued, immediately contradicting his claim, was Laurence Olivier, who in a 1955 production 'shook hands with greatness.' With his Macbeth, Mr. Fassbender, who routinely shakes hands with greatness in films that don’t remotely do the same, produces a man whose anguish eventually becomes a powerful counterpoint to his deeds, partly because he’s already dead by the time he utters his first word. Mr. Fassbender gives you a reason to see this Macbeth, although the writing isn’t bad, either.
Luke Buckmaster of The Daily Review rated the film four out of five stars, calling it "bold" and "fearless" and praising the production values as well as Fassbender and Cotillard's performances, but criticized the actors' poor enunciation or peculiar accents, which distracted from the film's other qualities.
Awards and nominations
|Award / Film festival||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Cannes Film Festival||Palme d'Or||Justin Kurzel||Nominated|||
|British Independent Film Awards||Best British Independent Film||Macbeth||Nominated|||
|Best Director||Justin Kurzel||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Michael Fassbender||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Marion Cotillard||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Sean Harris||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Adam Arkapaw||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||Best British Film||Macbeth||Nominated|||
|Best Actor||Michael Fassbender||Nominated|
|Goya Awards||Best European Film||Justin Kurzel||Nominated|||
|Satellite Award||Best Art Direction and Production Design||Fiona Crombie||Nominated|||
|Best Costume Design||Jacqueline Durran||Nominated|
|Phoenix Film Critics Circle||Best Actress||Marion Cotillard||Nominated|||
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- Dargis, Manohla (2015-12-03). "Review: ‘Macbeth,’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Awash in Gorgeous Carnage". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
- Buckmaster, Luke (2 October 2015). "Macbeth movie review". The Daily Review. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
The text is challenging enough without performers mumbling their dialogue or ... coming up with an odd verbal flavour
- "Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' in the running for the 2015 Cannes Palme d'Or". sbs.com.au. 17 April 2015.
- "The Lobster on a roll with seven British independent film awards nominations". The Guardian. 3 November 2015.
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