Monday, January 11, 2016
I usually know within about five minutes whether or not I'm going to like a Shakespeare adaptation. This might even be true of unconventional Shakespeare adaptations like Throne of Blood or 10 Things I Hate About You (incidentally, this is the only time those two movies have appeared in a sentence together) because you know if the choices the filmmakers made in order to tweak the story are working or not right away. But it's especially true of direct adaptations like Branagh's Hamlet or Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet (yes, it counts as a direct adaptation). Once you dive into a Shakespeare film, the tone, acting style, and directorial choices are almost immediately apparent, and because I know just about all the big Shakespeare plays reasonably well, you often see where it's going pretty quickly.
Polanski's Macbeth made a few impressions on me in the first stretch of the film that didn't change through the next two hours. First, it's remarkably filmed, with stark but oddly beautiful land stretching across the screen. It feels real and dirty in a way that the stage never can and that few film adaptations even attempt. Second, it's kind of just bloody in the way that Macbeth probably should be but that isn't as notable as it might have been in 1971. Third, and perhaps most important, the acting is naturalistic without standing out in any particular way. It didn't grab me the way Macbeth should (this is the only Shakespeare tragedy I really like), but maybe I just wasn't in the mood for Macbeth.
There was one thing I did really like about this film - the music is spectacular. I didn't know Third Ear Band (named after the legendary group Third Eye Blind) before watching the movie but love the progressive folk movement they were loosely affiliated with and plan on checking out more of their music.