Michael Fassbender mesmerizes as Macbeth

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Karen Kunawicz

Karen Kunawicz

It’s actually a bit of a miracle to have yet another serious Shakespeare film run in regular cinemas here. The last time I recall Shakespeare in the cinemas here was Coriolanus in 2011, a version written and directed by Ralph Fiennes.

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Justin Kurzel directed this Macbeth, with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Michael Fassbender has always been a joy to watch—he is incredibly easy on the eyes and he’s such a great actor. He is the best thing about the film and he delivers.

Macbeth is a favorite play of mine and I thought its quick running time (about 110 minutes) was just right to refresh my mind and retell this tragic story of ambition, tyranny and madness. I also like that they didn’t try to add a modern touch to it—you constantly have these scenes of the Scottish moors, mountains and landscape oft accompanied by dirge-like music—excellent for setting the tone.

Marion Cotillard was not the usual Lady Macbeth who gets a scene where she is outwardly going cuckoo—her madness is bit colder and more silent, making it a bit more sinister.

On downside:

1. The visuals and images were too dark—I had that problem in Megamall. I’m wondering if my eyesight was bad, if image could not have been tweaked more or if it was really like that, just dark and drab.

2. There are some missing classic and favorite lines including the witches’ “double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble,” “something wicked this way comes” and the lines about Macbeth murdering sleep.

3. It’s easy to forget Banquo at the Banquet was ghost.

I am just happy to see Macbeth again I suppose. I have seen several versions of it but to this day, I have not forgotten my favorite version of Macbeth—the one that taught me to appreciate it: the 1989 production of Teatro Pilipino’s Makbet staged at the MET using the brilliant and awfully missed Rolando Tinio’s translation.

It was amazing—Tinio’s wife and muse Ella Luansing was a most unforgettable Lady Macbeth. And despite not having any photographs or video recordings, the staging of Birnam wood closing in on Dunsinane remains in my head—a long, stunning, dramatic finale done to the tune of Ravel’s Bolero.

Shakespeare’s work remains timeless and fascinating. Now will we get to catch a filmed version of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet any time soon?

Also a bit of trivia: the Magneto and Professor X pairs from X-Men have all played Macbeth: Fassbender, McKellen, Stewart and McAvoy.

Justin Kurzel returns with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the Assassin’s Creed film and apparently a Macbeth opera will be screened on May 10 in select Ayala cinemas.

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