Macbeth

Justin Kurzel's visually stunning adaptation of Shakespeare's dark tale of lust for power, betrayal and insanity is the homage we've all been waiting for, and it deserves all the attention and hype it's been attracting. Even if, like me, you struggle to decipher the eloquence of the Shakespearean language, you'll have no trouble following the plot because with the eternally excellent Michael Fassbender in the lead role and the magnificent Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, words are irrelevant - their disillusionment is all in the tears and twisted grins.

It's not an easy viewing. The opening shot is of the Macbeth's dead child awaiting his funeral. It's a gruesome two hours, full of stabbings in the back (literally), throats savagely slit and Macduff's young family burnt at the stake. It's a world famous story of the slow descent into madness and a monumental fall from grace that dates back to approximately 1600, regarded as Shakespeare's elaborated account of the power structures, failures and tensions from that era, and has been portrayed many times by many actors via many different means. But this is different. Fassbender proves once again that he is a true talent of modern cinema, a strikingly convincing sight as the murderous guilt riddles the eponymous anti-hero.

Kurzel depicts the bloodshed and pain of the tragedy by masterfully playing with light, accentuated with the sorrowful music provided by the other Kurzel, Jed. It's a fine example of expert cinematography, from the harsh contrasts of colour to the dramatic landscape of the Isle of Skye, where it was mostly filmed. It's an advert for the Scottish coast. It makes you want to pull on your thickest jacket and boots (or cloak and sword, for period drama authenticity) travel by horseback and bask in the bitter winds.

A historical education, a lesson in quality acting, an awe-inspiring aesthetic delight showcasing the wonders of untouched nature and archaic architecture - the key ingredients for some essential viewing.

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