2015 Macbeth fails to hold up


Caden Massey

Now we are in a tough spot. I happen to dislike watching movies, but I really enjoy watching Shakespeare plays. I had the opportunity to watch Macbeth (2015), which is directed by Justin Kurzel. What happens when you combine Macbeth with the big screen? Something very unique. I’m just not entirely sure it works.

Before I start roasting the film, I would like to make a few notes of things I did like. The first thing I liked was the gore. I am not one for gore in movies, but Macbeth has always been a play that requires gore. In order to tell the tragic tale, you need to have people die. I think that the gore plays into that aspect. I will admit however that they may have gone a little overboard on it. Spoiler alert for a 400-year-old play, but when Duncan is murdered, I swear there was at least 2 gallons of blood spilt all over the place. Then after that, Macduff just casually throws up in the field. I think that really shows what kind of character Macduff is, but we will get into characters later.

The visuals of the play are generally pleasing. The dirt and mud flying through the air is a perfect effect. At risk of reading too far into this, I think that could symbolize the inner war that is happening with Macbeth near the beginning.

It’s a good thing we had something to symbolize that too, because I think they butchered Macbeth’s character in the first half of the movie. I have always read that Macbeth was getting talked into committing this murder, and that he was trying to be virtuous. I think how it came out in the movie was nothing like that. He seemed way too willing to succumb to his ambition. The entire plot seemed more designed around this war and not around Macbeth as a character, which I did not appreciate.

A concept I would like anyone who has seen this movie to consider is, was this character of Macbeth true to the original, or was it adapted to be played by Michael Fassbender. Don’t get me wrong, I like Michael Fassbender. He is a great pick for this role. Although I can’t help but wonder if the script was tweaked in order to accommodate for his style of acting. He pulls off the craziness, but I think it isn’t true to Macbeth.

Hot take, but I think that the beginning of the movie misses a lot of big moments. The washing the blood away metaphor for example seems like it is more or less skimmed over. It happens again with the ghost of Banquo. It just feels like they missed a ton of opportunities to stay with the script.

In order to make a movie like this work, you have to slim down the script. For example, Donalbain is completely absent. I understand that Donalbain is not an important character to the story, but something just feels so wrong about cutting out one of the princes. Not to mention the absence of Porter. I think a cut like that is a little more understandable however. This film definitely benefitted from cutting out that scene he is in. It was unnecessary for the plot to continue and would have seemed out of place.

Overall, I think the movie is good as a stand-alone movie, but not so good as a Shakespeare adaptation. It lets a broader audience enjoy it, but I think it misses a lot of the magic. If you want to watch the movie, it is available on Amazon and its free with Prime. I rate Macbeth (2015) about 5 missing Donalbains out of 10.