Macbeth, 2006

dir. Geoffrey Wright

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Visuals

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Macbeth

Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans, Terminator Salvation) is one of the few mega Hollywood action heroes I actually have quite some respect for, given the appalling scripts he is often asked to deliver with sincerity – in fact, I think that’s exactly how I would describe what I like about him; he brings sincerity to otherwise horrifically cheesy films. Seeing him play Macbeth is something of a treat. If you had never seen Macbeth before, never really enjoyed it, never really understood it or been captivated by it and then you saw this film you would be heartily impressed and obsess over it for days. Thing is, Macbeth happens to be one of the best scripts ever devised by man (easily in the top 10 of all time) and for those of us who have witnessed the marvel of this harrowing fall from grace – the anatomy of murder & betrayal as it unfolds in the human mind – and been lucky enough to see a performance which did it justice, his delivery does leave a lot to be desired. Lady Macbeth is probably the strongest performance but Banquo, Macduff, Duncan and even smaller characters like the two wicked murderers and even The Doctor all stand out with good, strong, honest performances. Look out for ‘Mouse’ from The Matrix too – he’s the relegated heir to the throne and it’s wonderful to see him back on the big screen with a juicy, Shakespearean role for him to get his nashers into.

 

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The Witches are completely captivating – Geoffrey Wright (director) really struck the nail on the head in attempting to catapult Shakespeare into the twenty-first century; long gone are the withered old hags that hobble on a crooked staff, drooling as they point crooked fingers across the audience with a toothless smile; he replaces them with foxy, young, nymphomaniac sex-doll-school-girl-minxes who hiss and writhe and run around naked and have orgies with Macbeth as they whisper their scorn and prophesies in his ears, scratching his back harshly and laughing wickedly as he falls blindly for their trickery. That ought-ta make 'em sit up and pay attention!

 

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But as I said, unfortunately, this film as a production of Macbeth will leave a big empty hole in those who have experienced it’s true greatness before. Pretty much every line of Shakespeare’s play is gold dust and they cut the lines so heavily to clarify meanings – even changing a couple of words here and there! – that true fanatics might even become a little frustrated. Characters don’t listen to each other properly and sure enough, that oldest of mistakes, some of the actors are so busy trying to sound like their speech is fluid and natural that they miss the mark of that special Shakespearean truth. No matter; as a moving image in terms of cinematography, costume, set-design, style, tone, colouring, pace and so forth, this film is beautiful. It reminds me of Chinese cinema, in so far as it’s tones of colour are so wonderfully exotic, stretching right across the spectrum yet it still manages to blend them all together and prevent it from becoming psychedelic, a certain coolness retained such as in the films Traffic (starring Michael Douglas and Benicio Del Toro) or The Assassination of Jesse James which both use a wide variation of colour schemes yet are soothing in tone, almost like a massage for the eyes. It has echoes of the television series Underbelly which is Australia’s answer to The Wire and every bit as good too. And hey – it’s Shakespeare! Kind of redefines the term ‘gangster’ doesn’t it?

 

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