"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Literature in the News: New Movie Version of Macbeth

Wow, I came across this review in Aleteia of an upcoming filming of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  The reviewer, Matthew Becklo, tackles the nature of many new film adaptations of Shakespeare’s works, the question of  original setting or modernizing it.

When it comes to Shakespeare’s plays, some people remain convinced that the only way to make that great archivist of the human condition come alive for modern audiences is to transplant his stories in a modern setting or rewrite his language in modern style. But Justin Kurzel’s new adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays chooses the wiser path: letting the genius of Shakespeare stand on its own two feet.

I agree completely.  I have never understood why changing the play to a contemporary setting makes it any better.  At best it gives it some additional interest, but at worst it distorts the play’s themes.  Well, this new movie of Macbeth will stay true to its setting, so true that the whole dark, Scottish medieval world is recreated.

Kurzel does leave his creative mark on Macbeth, opting for a sparser script (with a few memorable lines, like “Double, double toil and trouble” not making the cut) and adding new elements around Macbeth and Banquo’s sons at the bookends of the film. The cinematography is also more daring, especially the opening war scene split between elegant, slow-motion frames evocative of a still-life painting and total bone-crushing chaos.

But the gritty, foggy, bloody world of Macbeth takes its place among the great Shakespeare adaptations by never losing sight of the soul of the story.

I don’t understand why a director would take out lines out of Macbeth, especially great and famous lines—I believe it’s the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays—but the sparseness is definitely congruent with the play’s identity.  It really is a sparse play in the sense that there are absolutely no digressions or even much amplification in Shakespeare’s work.  Shakespeare certainly intended it to be sparse.  As to the grittiness, well get a look at the trailer.

Wow, I want to see that!  I can’t imagine any lover of Shakespeare not wanting to see it.  Read the rest of Becklo’s review.  He’s got a solid understanding of the play. 

According to IMDb, the play was released to the public on December 11th and it has received a 7.4 out of ten review.  

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