Monday, April 20, 2009

Geoffrey Wright's Macbeth (2006)

William Shakespeare has composed some of the most beautiful poetry that the English language will ever see. Take for example, this famous speech from Macbeth:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death.

Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more.

It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Now add to this witches' brew, some sex, drugs, and quite a bit of bloody violence, and you have Geoffrey Wright's
Wright has a strong love for disaffected youth: Romper Stomper (1992), Metal Skin (1994) and Cherry Falls (2000). In some ways, he continues this theme with Macbeth, starring Sam Worthington as Macbeth and Victoria Hill as Lady Macbeth, who also co-wrote and co-produced. The relationship between the two leads is Wright's central focus, and Shakespeare's play becomes not a tale of ambition but answers the question: where else are we supposed to go? This film is one hundred and eighty degrees different from fellow countryman, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet (1996). Modern Macbeth is set in the criminal underworld. Worthington's Macbeth looks as if he shares a closet with Kakihara from Miike's Ichi the Killer (2001) and at times, Hill's Lady Macbeth looks eerily like Amy Winehouse. Shot on digital video, Macbeth has a strong resemblance to a music video. The colors range the technicolor spectrum with no shortage of red blood. The violence is amazingly brutal and frequent. Worthington and Hill's performances contain the deserved reverence for the Bard's language and as such their performances are quite good. Wright also shows the same reverence, for when any character begins to speak, the camera becomes still and its focus is the face of the speaker. The flourishes are saved for the action or in a particularly interesting touch, the scenes with the witches. Wright imagines them as figments of Macbeth's mind in the form of three red-headed schoolgirls. These scenes are indulgent and sexy and often counterbalance the seriousness of the subject matter. Macbeth is the very definition of a divisive film: either it comes of as crass and commercial or brave and interesting. Either way that it's viewed, it is indisputable that Macbeth is a quintessential Wright film. And Wright is making some of the most interesting cinema today.


Mr.LargePackage said...

Anyone who has directed a movie the caliber of Cherry Falls is large and in charge. Also, scenes that are indulgent and sexy are large and in charge.

Emily said...

It's funny, I was planning on writing about Shakespearean horror next week. I've never heard of this one but I love a good Macbeth adaptation so it's now on the list. Polanski's is worth a watch, as is the much lighter black comedy Scotland, PA.