I was very excited about going to see the newest outing of William Shakespeare's Macbeth by Justin Kurzul because the trailer looked amazing. Yes, the acting is brilliant (no question) and the scenery breathtaking. Visually all wonderful. But the rendering, the STORY, that's what delighted me so. Kurzul directed as well as wrote the screen play which is what I really want to talk about.
Here's where I might be a bit different to a lot of Shakespeare fans, and The Tragedy of Macbeth fans in particular because
- I have taught this play almost every year for 27 years (and I studied it myself at high school) I have seen the magnificent and bloody Polanski film as many times
- I have seen it performed on stage often (the best was with Michael Hurst as Macbeth)
- I have staged two productions with my students
- I have written a teaching play text for high schools
- I have written a 15 mins version
But, although I may have written the sequel, after viewing Kurzul's film, I feel like he has written my prequel.
To do what we both have done is to have a profound understanding of the play and Shakespeare's intent and Kurzul, IMHO, has done this:
- he got the man, Macbeth,
- he got the pull of family,
- he showed Macduff and Banquo as I often feel they are not portrayed:
Macduff’s anguished response to the young Malcolm who tells him to 'dispute it like a man' goes to the very heart of character, the very heart of humanness and proves Bloom's assertion of Shakespeare's that he nails every human condition. Macduff spits back at Malcolm
I shall do so;
But I must also feel it as a man: (Act 4, sc 3)
showing the great heart of the character that he was in Shakespeare’s play but also, the performance by Sean Harris showed the promised of the older man he was to become (and which I imagined for my novel).
But, of course, it was to Banquo and his son Fleance that I was most (almost nervously) keen to see. There is a wonderful depth to the relationship. Fleance never speaks but he is often present and the ending is as many people said, ‘setting up to a sequel.’ This is another example of how I believe Kurzul has understood the play: "all the world’s a stage...." and this play was but one part of the stage (pun on the word above); that the story did not actually finish with Macbeth’s death.
Many people have spoken of the PTSD shown by the characters and that is as it should be – this is a play that so deeply explores the human condition and the reactions of the men (and women) to trying circumstances – not all who suffer terribly go on to be monsters or go mad but one must have some sympathy or at least understanding for those who do.
The film challenges the audience to do this.
Personally, I hope this latest film directs interested people to my trilogy and I hope lovers of Shakespeare look not for the differences or assumed inaccuracies but read it for what it is: a story that seeks to find an answer to that question ‘what must I do to secure happiness for myself and those I love?’
I went to see the film knowing that I knew a lot but also understanding that to do the viewing justice, I was not to compare to ‘the original’ rather to take the story as it was presented to me.
I came out totally filled with admiration and appreciation not only for Kurzul and his fabulous cast and crew but for William Shakespeare once again.