Macbeth – close encounters of the Fassbender kind

(These fantastic drawings of Michael Fassbender are by a wonderful artist called Stefanie Hochriegl. Thank you Steffi!)













All hail Michael Fassbender that shall be king of the Oscars in February (if there’s any justice).

The best and most exciting actor working today will have earned his place at the top table whether he walks away with the little bald, gold man or not. Although he will almost certainly be nominated for his blistering turn as Steve Jobs, his searing Macbeth could provide the supporting evidence that gets him the win.

If nothing else, the sight of a half naked Fassbender rising from a lake will certainly help give the Academy a greater appreciation of Shakespeare’s rich text.

I know it did me.  Oh, that rich text….

Let’s just hope the voters don’t confuse the two roles; ‘Is this an iphone I see before me?’

Reviews of Macbeth have called the central performance ferocious, visceral, intense, sensational. The BBC’s Andrew Marr began his interview of Fassbender describing his Macbeth as ‘wild and sexy.’

The film itself has been described as innovative, energetic, bold and just downright awe inspiring.

It is all those things, just as Fassbender, in the title role, is all that he is described as.

I’ve seen the film three times now and maybe it was because Fassbender  was in the room each time, I’ve appreciated it more with each viewing. Or maybe Fassy’s presence had nothing to do with it and it’s just a great version for a modern audience with its pared down text and electric visuals.

Marion Cotillard’s Lady Macbeth becomes more compelling with each viewing and the supporting cast of David Thewlis, Paddy Considine and Sean Harris too grow stronger. If there was an award for most stunning landscape in a supporting role, Scotland’s isle of Skye would surely win it. Misty, moody and very magnificent, Skye adds to the brutality, beauty and epic ambition of the film.

Visit Scotland be prepared for an influx of tourists.

But how do you get to see a film with Michael Fassbender, you ask?

Easy, you go to the world premiere in Cannes, the European premiere and in Edinburgh and then you go to Picture House central in Soho the night Fassbender decides to show up for an impromptu Q+A.

Ok, so, none of those things are that easy but I’ve just struck lucky with Fassy in the flesh this year. By next week when I’m due to attend the premiere of Steve Jobs, I will probably have seen him more times in 10 months than I have most members of my chambers. And while there is surely no greater specimen of manhood  than the average male barrister, Fassbender is a pretty darn good substitute.

Anyway, enough from me, save to say Macbeth is a must see, here’s Michael:

Fassbender’s comments on the film as given at the Q+A:

For me the film is about two people trying to claw back their relationship in the midst of  the brutality of war which kept them apart for months and their personal grief about the loss of their child. The ambition aspect for me wasn’t what this story is all about.

Lady Macbeth sacrifices so much for this relationship. This is a couple dealing with loss; of children, of each other. He’s away campaigning for months and when they come together again, I wanted to explore how it would be for them to touch again, how would that feel? Almost like getting to know a stranger again.

When the director said he saw Macbeth as a soldier suffering from PTSD, I thought that was genius. I hadn’t thought of him like that. The idea explained so much.

And the murder of the king, in a way it liberates Macbeth. This terrible deed almost frees his ambition and the wild side of him.

This is a very modern version that I hope is as much for the kids as the purists. The original text is masterfully filleted to keep  as much of the story as possible but also to make it accessible to the 15 year olds.

For me the script read like a Western, like the Badlands of Scotland. It sung from start to finish.

I loved Justin Kurzel’s take on this story. I really liked his first film, Snowtown. A friend had heard good things about it and he suggested we go see it. It was the best way to see a film, knowing nothing about it beforehand. It might as well have been a Christmas film about Santa Claus for all I knew and then to see this amazing piece of work was great.

Skye is a breathtaking place. You feel the special energy, the ghosts, the history. It’s an extraordinary location. We had everything, rain, sleet, snow. It added to the film.

Children are emphasized in this version. This is a childless couple who are reminded constantly that they will not have a legacy.

In terms of other Shakespeare adaptations, I loved Romeo and Juliet (Baz Luhrmann version). Here was an old story so energized for young people. It was so easy to follow. I was so moved by it.

Director Justin Kurzel on Michael Fassbender

I first saw him in Hunger . It was like how you feel when you hear great music, when you are taken by true artist. That’s what I saw. There’s a timelessness about him  which allows him to go from playing an IRA prisoner to Macbeth.

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