Blu-ray Review: Macbeth

MacbethBluSTUDIO: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay | DIRECTOR: Justin Kurzel | CAST: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman
RELEASE DATE: 3/8/16 | PRICE:DVD $26.99, Blu-ray $22.98
BONUSES: featurette, Q&A with Michael Fassbender
SPECS: R | 113 min. | Drama/war | 2.35:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Did the moving going public need another version of Shakespeare’s popular Scottish play? After watching director Justin Kurzel’s (The Snowtown Murders) Macbeth, I say yes. This latest adaptation provides a bold new interpretation of the renowned tragedy wherein Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. In short order–consumed by ambition and spurred to action by the scheming Lady Macbeth—he murders his king and seizes the throne for himself.

 Fair is foul and foul is fair Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in Macbeth.

Fair is foul and foul is fair Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in Macbeth.

The film opens with Macbeth and his wife laying their infant child to rest and continues as Macbeth becomes engaged in a fierce, bloody battle in which he defeats the allied forces and wins the war for King Duncan. Kurzel’s Macbeth is here presented as a weary warrior stricken with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while his wife is a portrayed as a grieving mother. Thus, unlike more traditional adaptations, the couple’s quest for the throne is not a thoughtlessly ambitious power play, but rather a desperate act for the two to bond over a common goal that will fill an emotional hole born from the scourge of battle and personal loss. It smartly blends the realities of war-torn times with a tale of all-consuming passion.

This dramatic re-imagining lends more sympathy to our protagonists, and the compelling performances by Michael Fassbender (an Academy Award nominee for the recent Steve Jobs) as Macbeth and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) as Lady Macbeth, inspire us to identify with them. Two of the finest actors of the day, Fassbender and Cotillard are electric together. They are at ease with complexity of Shakespeare’s language as they skillfully translate a myriad of emotions from lust and longing to despair and guilt with just a subtle look or change of tone.

Though the performances are reason enough to give the film a shot, Kurzel’s assured direction and Fiona Crombie’s striking production design add to the experience. Kurzel makes use of dream-like imagery, flashbacks and voiceovers to great effect, giving the story more depth and perspective compared to what can be rendered in a stage production. The climactic scene where Macbeth and Macduff duel to the death gives amazing visual depiction to the adage “War is Hell.” Shot in a gorgeous haze of reds and yellow (props to cinematographer Adam Arkapaw), the sequence is both relentlessly harsh and beautifully breathtaking.

The extra content includes a 20 minute Q&A with Fassbender and a “Making Macbeth” featurette, both of which provide insight into the scope and unique aspects of the adaptation.


Buy or Rent Macbeth (2015)
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About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at