Macbeth

September 1st, 2006 Film, Film Reviews, Filmink

There are three ways to do a Shakespeare movie. You can go completely traditional – an automatic feather in the critical cap as thesps from Mel Gibson (Hamlet) and Laurence Fishburne (Othello) to Kennth Brannagh (Henry V, Hamlet) and Richard Burton (Taming of the Shrew) all know.

You can eschew both the vernacular-heavy lingo and original settings and simply borrow the timeless themes of his work to appeal to a wider audience in everything from the modern schoolyard (10 Things I Hate About You) to feudal Japan (Ran).

But the most successful rendition of the Bard in recent memory is Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, which proved teen-friendly casting, a sexy contemporary setting and the content-laden original text could work.

Romper Stomper director Geoffrey Wright hasn’t risen to the same heady heights since the film that bought Our Rusty to world attention, but he comes as close as ever taking cues from Luhrmann’s box of tricks.

Macbeth sticks to the script – every Olde English word of it. If you’re not familiar with the play you’ll have to make do with a sense of what’s going on instead of following the dialogue completely.

Shakespeare’s magnum opus of the lust for power and its inevitable paranoia is unfurled in gangland Melbourne, the heroes of the Scottish wars of independence become drug bagmen in the employ of a powerful mob boss (Sweet).

Graphic, rich and sensual, it’s a little disconcerting at first to see talented Australian actors waxing lyrically, but everyone inhabits their character well and liberal doses of nudity, gunfights and bloodshed will please fans of cinema who wouldn’t normally find The Bard so accessible.


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