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26 February 2013 @ 10:09 pm
Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth  
Before James McAvoy decided to do the Scottish play in all its classic glory on stage, he did this modernized version that stripped the play of its Shakespearean language and set it in the ultra-competitive world of five star restaurants. Now that I've watched it again, I see that the results are a bit of a mixed bag. But the acting by both McAvoy and Keeley Hawes as Ella (Lady Macbeth) are top notch. And most of the major themes of the original play are wonderfully preserved and even highlighted by setting it in modern times.

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The one thing major addition that this version made explicit was that Macbeths had a baby who soon died after childbirth. As the story moves on and the murder they commit begins to weigh heavily on both parties, you start to see how the cracks in their marriage were already set by this tragedy that neither ever really got over. Macbeth threw himself into his work with a near feverish dedication, leaving his wife to fend for herself emotionally. That one thing put her plans to murder Duncan into a slightly new light as it wasn't just an act of ambition but I imagine resentment that Duncan stole Macbeth from her when she needed him the most. Rather, Duncan more or less used Macbeth's grief to milk him for all the labor he could get. The least Duncan can do is die already so the Macbeths could have fame and fortune, if not their precious baby they lost.

It's only when their respective guilt over the crime reaches something of a frenzy, especially as more bodies need to add up to cover the first, you see the realization from both Macbeth and his wife just how not together they are in this and hadn't been together for a long time. Clearly Ella was hoping the crime would bring them closer together while Joe was hoping their closeness would help them through the crime. This is one of the few adaptations that makes me feel sympathy for both of them as each one realized way too late that they were alone and had been alone for quite some time.

Joe: Why can't you see what I see? Why can't you feel the things that I feel? Ella...
Ella: We were together once. But then you stopped talking to me.
 
 
 
The Writer They Call Tay: Merlin: Thumbs up!awanderingbard on February 27th, 2013 10:36 pm (UTC)
I watched all the Shakespeare Re-told's with my mum a few years back. Except for the A Midsummer's Night's Dream one, which we both looked at each other about fifteen minutes in and concluded it was terrible. But the others I really liked, including MacBeth. I remember having a very scary dream afterwards though, where I was watching it in my dream and then I woke up and thought I was awake but was still dreaming and then I woke up again but was still dreaming, and when I finally did wake up it took me a few minutes to decide whether I was really awake or not.

Also, I felt it needed more Richard Armitage, but I tend to latch on to minor Shakespearan characters and Macduff has always been my boy. Just like Benvolio, and Fortinbras.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on February 28th, 2013 02:26 am (UTC)
A Midsummer's Night's Dream ended well, I thought. There was one scene that oddly makes me tear up every time but I can't necessarily say it was worth sitting through the bulk of it.

I remember having a very scary dream afterwards though, where I was watching it in my dream and then I woke up and thought I was awake but was still dreaming and then I woke up again but was still dreaming, and when I finally did wake up it took me a few minutes to decide whether I was really awake or not.

Eeep! But I'm not surprised this one gave you nightmares. Watching this adaptation always makes me squirm but I also thought it was the most artistically shot one of the set.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on February 28th, 2013 02:44 am (UTC)
We just found the AMND one quite boring, as I recall. Mum needs things to grab her right off, or she's out. I'm often willing to wait to see where it goes. I really enjoyed the other two comedies. I thought Much Ado About Nothing worked really well in modern times, and did the right amount of correcting from the original to make me cheer for Hero, rather than dislike her.

I spent a lot of time with Macbeth for a project in high school where we wrote a parody of it. My job was to translate what the text was saying into more modern speech, or summarize it. So I have quite the soft spot for it, but I do find adaptations a bit harrowing to get through. I'm much better with blood I'm imagining than seeing. My teacher told me when to turn my head when we were watching the Polanski adaptation.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on February 28th, 2013 02:47 am (UTC)
I enjoyed how most of the blood in this Macbeth was either animal in the cooking or imagined. It felt like a nice translation of how all the killing during Shakespeare's days were done off stage.

Much Ado translated very well but I guess like your mom it didn't really grab me for whatever reason so I was out for most of it.
The Writer They Call Tay: CP: Arthur is happy - a lotawanderingbard on February 28th, 2013 04:29 pm (UTC)
It felt like a nice translation of how all the killing during Shakespeare's days were done off stage.

We were on a shoe string budget for our parody production, and had to solve the problem of Macbeth's decapitation with our Macbeth running off stage shouting 'oh no, my head is falling off!'. Good times.

Much Ado translated very well but I guess like your mom it didn't really grab me for whatever reason so I was out for most of it.

I'm basically really easy to please. I will happily watch almost anything with actors I like in it, provided it's not too scary or traumatizing. I am the Arthur Shappey of film and television viewing. But I don't begrudge those with more discerning tastes.

I also thought Rufus Sewell did a brilliant job in The Taming of the Shrew. I loved the idea that the modern interpretation of Petruchio wearing inappropriate clothes to the wedding was him cross-dressing.