“Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under it“, whispers Lady Macbeth to her tortured husband. There looks to be little innocence in Australian director Justin Kurzel‘s epic adaptation of Macbeth. The visual beauty of the film does however, belie the horror of Shakespeare‘s historical tragedy. The low saturation of the colour palette gives way to vibrant flashes of violence; the deep creases upon the king’s handsome face betray the anguish of power and ambition; the comeliness of the queen masks her treacherous mind.
Kurzel made waves in the Australian horror and crime scenes with his first feature, Snowtown (2012). A bleak depiction of youth culture and violence, the film followed a young man searching for acceptance from serial killer, John Bunting. Oppressively bleak and torturous for some viewers, Kurzel appears to have stuck to his guns with Macbeth, foregrounding familiar themes of isolation and self-destruction.
Macbeth stars Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave, Fish Tank) as the eponymous general, Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night, The Dark Knight Rises) as silver-tongued Lady Macbeth, David Thewlis (the Harry Potter series, Naked) as Duncan, and Paddy Considine (Pride, Dead Man’s Shoes) as Banquo.
The tragedy follows Macbeth, a general under King Duncan, who bears a prophecy of power. Together with his wife, a plot is hatched to kill the king and take the kingdom. A play about the perils of ambition, Macbeth explores themes of treachery, fate, and power, it opens in UK cinemas on October 5. Watch the trailer below: