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Essay: Macbeth (2015) directed by Justin Kurzel

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  • Subject area(s): Media essays
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  • Published: June 11, 2021*
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  • Words: 1,805 (approx)
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  • Tags: Macbeth essays Shakespeare essays
  • Macbeth (2015) directed by Justin Kurzel
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Macbeth (2015) directed by Justin Kurzel brilliantly describes the tale of a man who is corrupted by his ambition and ultimately comes to his demise by his tragic flaw. A brilliant depiction of the play, with excellent acting, beautiful cinematography, and a haunting soundtrack. This essay will analyze the technical production elements, the themes, and representation of the film “Macbeth” (2015).

Opening Scene and killing Duncan

The scene “killing Duncan” is a key scene in the film Macbeth. In the scene, Killing Duncan (00:36:14-00:00-37:42), Justin Kurzel utilized cut transitions while in the shot (00:36:41-00:36:55) he employed high angle medium close distance to shoot the expression of Macbeth (Boyce, 2015). Also, Justin Kurzel utilized hand movement to shoot the knife into Duncan\’s body, which made the viewers feel immersive like they were on the scene witnessing Macbeth killing Duncan. Further, Kurzel employed parallel montage technique in (00:36:52-00:37:32) to shoot when Macbeth was killing Duncan. It is notable that Lady Mcbeth was praying while it was raining outside, which gives the viewers mixed feelings.

The film’s editing was perfectly done in the coronation scene. Macbeth switches back and forth between watching the people chanting for him and a night where he knifed King Duncan to a bloody death in the bed; on top of that, Fassbender seems almost sickly already with paranoid guilt, and this makes things all more powerful. There are many of instances where editing provides viewers with that kind of impact.

The first scene in the film “Macbeth” (2015) shows the burial of an infant, who is thought to be the child of Macbeth. The child’s death is only briefly hinted in the original text, but bringing the early trauma to the forefront of the audience is a creative decision for the Macbeth film. In the mad scene, Lady Macbeth gazes at the camera intently as she washes her hands; the camera pans to show the viewer that she is speaking to her dead kid, whom she imagined to be a toddler (Groves, 2015). The appearance of witches holding the infant is a chilling appearance. The image silently communicates that it was the desire to have a child that had led them to the path of evil. The viewer is reminded of the child many times: at the throne room, a high-angle shot is utilized to display the dejected Macbeth, and the viewer can only think of a son facing down from heaven. The narrative theory is proposed by theorists like narrative theory- Barthes, Todorova, Levi Strauss, and prop. Narrative discussion is based on the assumptions that media messages can be described as constructions, they has economic and political effects, and that individuals negotiate meaning in the media texts.

Kurzel’s cinematography is amazing with the shots of Scottish locations. He shoots everything is perfect detail creating misty, dark and brutal landscapes leap across from the screen and entrap its audience within it. Kurzel brings the sheer brutality of battle in the stark vision with simple yet helpful camera angles mixed with a mixture of quick, pacey editing which lends it to fight scenes (Boyce, 2015). The skillful direction of the scene is masterful; he combines close-up shots of Fassbender as Macbeth with the traditional long battle shot footage in slow mow to present the impression of Macbeth existing in the state of calm and the center of the raging storm of the battle. Kurzel’s Macbeth shrewdly use nematology to investigate the theme and function of children in the film (Lohse, 2016). Macbeth is seen preparing for war after burying his child: he salutes his additional reinforcements – young and frightened looking boys. One boy particularly draws the attention of Macbeth (Sterritt, 2016). He is pale and has wide eyes, and Macbeth assists him to make his weapon ready for battle. Later the viewer is shown his throat is slit; a silent screen came with a slow motion in the battle scene.

The Gentlewoman’s and Doctor’s talk about Macbeth’s repetitive, unstable behavior is removed from the text. Further, her ‘out, damned spot’ speech is presented calmly and slowly on the chapel’s floor, in the pale, cold, snowy light. Further, the Gentlewoman’s and Doctor’s line are removed and was replaced with a compressed monolog. It is notable that Kurzel does not show Cotillard’s hands in it (Kroenert, 2015). However, the camera focuses on her gaze – which was on an object the viewer cannot see. At the close of the speech, the camera cuts to Lady Macbeth’s attention – the ghost of the child that was buried at the stat of the first scene. Covered with what looks like smallpox, the child sat hands outstretched on the cold floor of the church.

Church and Sleepwalking scene

In Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene (01:22:41-01:24:42) in (01:22:41-01:22:48), Kurzel employed the overhand angle long distance and steady cam to shoot Lady Macbeth at the in the church. She was on the floor and talking to herself since the viewers can see the church environment, cut to (01:22:49-01:24:41) in this shot the director continually used eye level angle close up distance and steady cam movement, which clearly showed the audiences Lady Macbeth’s expression (Groves, 2015). Also, the scene in which Macbeth kills MacDuff’s family is notorious for being the very hard violence scene, but this adaption chooses to cut away right before their death and simply what happens rather than show it on screen. This decision allows the audience to concentrate more on the story and psychology of the tragic hero, rather than on gory details.

In the opening scene, Lady Macbeth calls upon demons in the church. She closes the gap between her and Macbeth. Lady Macbeth\’s posture is primarily stiff and has devious but driven facial expressions. Macbeth is closed off and appears languished and exhausted. Lady Macbeth speaks with objective, while Macbeth is uncertain and doubtful (Boyce, 2015). The music is eerie and mysterious which transmits anxiety from the characters to the audience. Further, the lighting overall is dim and dull, and shadows are cast on Lady Macbeth\’s whole face. Most of the camera shots are medium and close-up, highlighting body language and facial expressions.

The significance is that it is ironic to condemn oneself in the house of God. Lady Macbeth is asking God to pardon her for what she was going to do out of greed. By changing position, Lady Macbeth grows more compelling in what she says to Macbeth (Groves, 2015). This adds to the manipulation that induces Macbeth\’s drastic change in character and decision to kill Duncan (Morgan, 2015). Body language and facial expressions show that Lady Macbeth is set on fulfilling the prophecy, but Macbeth is primarily not very open to Lady Macbeth\’s evil ideas (Kroenert, 2015). This contrasts what happens later in the story where the reverse is true for these characters. Macbeth\’s doubts show he tries to be honorable, but Lady Macbeth\’s deception and infatuation with power overpower him. Music and sound build tension and keeps the audience engaged in the atmosphere. Lady Macbeth\’s shadowed face shows her deviation from righteousness to evil motives. The camera shots that display body language and the facial expressions illustrate the unspoken words and feelings of the character.

Final Fight Battle Scene

The battle scene has intermittent moments of violence, but most of the time they are shot in an extremely slow-motion or still frame, where a fleck of blood is captured in loving close-up are they cross past the faces. The actors stand or sit in a fixed position, mainly blocked by the theatrical lines facing forward (Kroenert, 2015). However, the freeze frame of the armies rushing at one another could have a negative capability of a splash page, showing the anticipation and not a realization of the moment (Morgan, 2015). The long speeches having minimal movement have the speech bubbles effect where the actors establish a mood for the entire speech. The stillness is highly evident with the Fassbender’s performance (Boyce, 2015). Most of the lines are delivered close-up, with his eyes on a point at the near-to-middle distance. The film makes a quality of literal monotony, where there is almost no volume, place, tone, cadence or expression for two hours. The effect is that even the small movements are necessary. For example, when Fassbender simply darts his eyes to the right shows his uncertainty before he killed Duncan. Also, when he tilts his head to address Lady Macbeth, it displays the power of his restraint.

The final confrontation has stellar cinematography, which is posted by the red visuals that are artfully constructed in the final battle scene. The climactic showdown between Macduff and Macbeth is principally striking, bathed in a smoky red, and perfectly complimented by Jed Kurzel’s sweeping score (Groves, 2015). The violence in the film is just in keeping with the violence theme of original play, and it is depicted in a very restrained manner and is by no means gratuitous. For instance, the scene when Macbeth kills King Duncan may have been much more violent, but was presented more on the lines of the Psycho shower scene, displaying the knife and the terrified facial expressions, but does not reveal the graphic details of the murder (Lohse, 2016). This, in turn, makes the presentation much more powerful, allowing the viewer to feel the power of the scene, rather than see it.

The view that Macbeth suffers from PTS is a topic which recurs throughout the film and begins with opening battle sequence (Groves, 2015). By showing Macbeth’s stillness in the raging battle that surrounds him, Kurzel is displaying Macbeth’s isolation from his actions (Boyce, 2015). Like most people who experience PTS Macbeth is disconnected from his actions; he is in a condition of trance that fractures his mind. As Macbeth later in the film “Full of scorpions is my mind.”

The scene’s color palette shifts towards the fiery, bloody red. It highly utilizes darkness and shows some occasional shots of the bleak White Mountains which gets the viewer to surprise because of the light. Further, the climatic fight between Macbeth and Macduff (Sean Harris) happens at the haze of the red and floating ash. In the bright orange-red outcome, the film reverts to Fleance. Kurzel positions Fleance and Malcolm in ominous opposition by its cuts back and forth between the boy and young man. In the final battle, Macbeth was going to fight the witches\’ words on being conquered by a man born of a woman. It seems that he could anticipate the likely outcomes and decides to fight and see what happens to the witches’ prophecy.

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