As you (should) know (by now), we’re doing a March Madness-bracket style review of the many video adaptations of Macbeth. We’ve finished the first round and now we’re down to the elite eight…and today’s quarterfinal match-up:
the 2006 film, directed by Geoffrey Wright with Sam Worthington (the #13 seed)
the 2015 film, directed by Justin Kurzel with Michael Fassbender (the #5 seed)
So, how did we get here?
In the first round, Wright’s modern-dress version took down Polanski’s 1971 film in a huuuuuuge upset. Polanski may have come in the favorite but in a virtual Hillary v Donald match-up, it came down to which one I didn’t dislike more. On the other hand, the Kurzel film made quick work of the modern-dress, Polish-language production from 2012.
As I noted before, in the 2006 Australian adaptation, Wright has made some pretty interesting choices, especially with the editing of the script, turning monologues into dialogues, moving scenes around, and cutting some altogether. This all tends to push the pace, which is a good thing, as it distracts from some of the not-so-great decisions, like sexy schoolgirl vandals as the witches.
Worthington makes for a serviceable if not stellar Scot. But his performance, like those of his cast-mates, and some of those choices described earlier, just end to give this production a “let’s damn it with faint praise”-kind of vibe.
On the other hand, both Fassbender and Cotillard give incredibly strong lead performances, and Kurzel delivers a film that is absolutely beautiful. And while visually delightful, the film cannot mask a kind of visceral brutality that is perfect for the story.
It’s really not much of a contest. Fassbender and Kurzel blow past the Wright/Worthington version, and into the semi-finals, where they’ll take face Ian McKellen in Trevor Nunn’s number one seed.
But first, our last quarter final: the video capture of Kenneth Branagh’s recent New York production going up against our number three seed, the Patrick Stewart film from 2010.