Shakespeare’s masterpiece by another name
Philip Cu-Unjieng (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2016 - 9:00am

Film review: Macbeth

MANILA, Philippines - It is sad that in order to draw an audience, a story as fabled as William Shakespeare’s Macbeth has to be retitled Macbeth: Warrior King here in the Philippines.

But no matter what you deign to rename or add on to it, this story of ambition, guilt, or dangerous and violent times steeped in blood, will always be a sturdy lesson on how universal and timeless the plays of the Bard will always be. With a solid, stoic performance by Michael Fassbender in the title role, there is much to admire in this adaptation that does stray from the source material, and freely abridges chunks of the original play.

As directed by Justin Kurzel, the film competed for the Palme d’Or in Cannes last year and definitely aims to allow the medium of cinema to turn the treatment into something that’s much about spectacle as it is about language and verse. Long sequences are given to battles, slow-mo and special effects — facets that would have been difficult to recreate on the stage. At times bringing to mind such films as Braveheart, Lord of the Rings and even 300, it would be incorrect to even call this a cinematic staging of the original play. Rather, in the same way that light classical music performers or the likes of Andrea Bocelli and The Piano Guys help introduce the uninitiated or the younger ones among us to a particular genre or specific work of Art, this retelling of the Macbeth story may lead someone to Shakespeare — and serve its purpose.

The other two film treatments of the Macbeth story I have seen would be Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood and Roman Polanski’s 1971 version. This new one of Kurzel has the advantage of today’s technology to provide a lot of effects that may keep a younger audience riveted to the screen.

Marion Cotillard is impressive as Lady Macbeth, making the most of her expressive face to act as counterpoint to her husband’s gruff, often impassive, exterior. Whereas other stagings have given us the arc of from valiant hero and warrior to simpering fool racked with guilt and regret, Fassbender successfully maintains a sense of nobility at the end, and we commend him for that.

It’s definitely worth the effort to watch, just don’t expect a “to the letter” rendition of the Shakespeare play you may have admired and loved.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

ACIRC AKIRA KUROSAWA ANDREA BOCELLI AND THE PIANO GUYS JUSTIN KURZEL LADY MACBETH LORD OF THE RINGS MARION COTILLARD MICHAEL FASSBENDER NBSP THRONE OF BLOOD AND ROMAN POLANSKI WARRIOR KING
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