What a stroke of miracle that Indonesian theaters are currently graced by a film that is a quite loyal adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s best plays, “MacBeth”! Ah, well, I’m so used to not getting the films I’d love to watch, simply because they are not commercial enough for the exhibition industry here, that when the latest MacBeth epicness, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, buzzed in Cannes, I was ready to give up my chance to ever see the film on a proper big screen. But, as they say, miracles do come for those who believe them.
So the film opened here last Wednesday (01/27) and by Thursday I immediately dragged my ass to the theater. I was going alone, because this is a sacred duty (though I wouldn’t mind having a company, but the potential match has some scheduling conflict). The reason I’m telling you this is because there was something about the movie-going experience–this particular one–that I found interesting and worth sharing.
So, during the screening, there were actually a cute elderly couple just a couple of rows after me. They were elderly, alright. Both seemed slow when walking and climbing the, thankfully not-so-steep, stairs to their seats. The gentleman was carrying the lady’s bag–it’s so cute, it hurts. And there they were… just the two of them in a movie theater like a couple of high school kids on a date… except that they are probably in their 70s and they were about to see a quite serious, demanding film that is MacBeth. They did step out of the room in the middle of the film, just after MacBeth killed Duncan no less, but as it turned out, they were only going to the bathroom. They actually came back together–him still holding her purse, and the usher was helping them get back to their seats. Adorable. They are, as the Internet kids say these days, my goals.
Anyway, back to the film. The reason I feel so strongly about seeing the film is perhaps kind of shallow to some people. Years ago (damn, I made it sound like a long time ago, but really it was probably 2010 or 2011), when I was still active fangirling and herp-derping my life away on Tumblr, I remember having a lot of favorite celebrities and sometimes I like to pair them up as some sort of crack pairings. Long story short, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard was one of those pairings and here they are in the same movie together and my crack dream just came true. I had to witness it myself!
To be honest, I’m not that well-versed in the Shakespearian world. The little details that I know about MacBeth wasn’t from my experience reading the play, but from a little online class I took on FutureLearn a couple of years back, called “Shakespeare and His World”. It was a very fun class and I learned quite a lot, including a little bit about MacBeth. In that class, MacBeth was used to portray Shakespeare’s interest in portraying the grey area between what is real and what is fantasy, and how Shakespeare turned a historical yet mystical drama about the Scotland king into a tale of psychological thriller about a man obsessed with his own fears and ambitions.
I feel the film translated that idea quite well through its visuals. I have to say, based on the decisions the filmmakers went for, the film became a very stylistic effort that gives this old play a zest of modernness. I do think that made a great contrast between the look of the film and the sound of the film. As you may already know, the dialogues actually use lines from the play, so for someone not so familiar with the old English, I have to work extra hard to understand. Yet the visuals use a kind of language I already understand–the play of slow-motion effect, the slightly shaky camera, the interchanging use of actual events and the character’s inner thoughts. The visual language helps me understand the spoken words. My only complain regarding the effort of comprehending the film is that I had to watch it with actual Indonesian subtitle. The subtitle is fine and simplifies everything, but it threw me off when I read and listen to the words spoken all at the same time. I’d rather just listen to the music of the words.
One striking scene for me is when Lady MacBeth does her soliloquy just before she dies. Marion is framed in a medium close-up, the tone was blue-ish and grey-ish. The character has almost lost her mind, she has succumbed to the guilt, even though at first she was the one more comfortable with it. (Which reminds me, one of the highlights of this play is actually how MacBeth and Lady MacBeth went to opposing directions when dealing with their guilt/fear–MacBeth went from uncomfortable to idea to completely embracing his tyranny, while the Lady went from cheering on her husband to take the crown to “OMG what have we done”.)
Anyway, back to mon chérie Marion… I applaud the film for staying on Marion’s face because it is just such an impactful face. Her blue eyes, even though the rest of the frame is also blue-ish, stand out, especially when the tears start rolling. After that amazing single teardrop at the end of Inception, I’m totally a fan of Marion Cotillard’s teardrops and they are so glorious in MacBeth.
All in all, I like the film, though I feel like it is one of those things that need to be revisited later to fully appreciate the greatness. Maybe when I’m in my 70s I will see this again with my life partner just like that elderly couple I saw yesterday.