I went to see Geoffrey Wright's Macbeth last night and enjoyed it greatly. It has been interesting watching the response this movie has received. Some say it's great, some call it an absolute dog. Some say it failed where Baz Luhrmann's R&J succeeded, while some say
it was pleasantly better than Luhrman's Romeo & Juliet. I say they're two different stories and need not be compared. I certainly enjoyed both.
Perhaps Shakespeare purists will be disappointed. This screenplay has cut maybe 90% or more of the Bard's script, and I've read that Wright chopped and changed scenes at will. But hey, that's what happens when a book or a play is ported to the screen. Fortunately, it has been a few years since I've seen or read Macbeth, so I wasn't sitting there thinking "that's not how it goes".
It's a low budget action film and if, like me, you have no problem with people who try to update Shakespeare for the kids, then you should enjoy Macbeth. I particularly liked the setting and locations. The Melbourne underground angle was obvious - one location featured tram tracks and the bridge over Southern Cross Station and even the Melway made an appearance on a surveillance system. Other locations were more stylised - Macbeth's luxury home and the Cawdor nightclub. Others still just looked like normal contemporary life - a messenger warning Lady Macduff over tea and cake, her son playing in the background, and drawings and photos on the fridge.
One downside was that, while I kept track of most of the major characters, I found it hard to follow who was who at times. I have this problem with Shakespeare generally - so many characters, so much going on. But the reduced script and the transformed action make it easy to follow - even if you don't already know the story, I would think. Time to go and work on my script for The Merchant of Venice. Most of the dialogue will remain, but there will definitely be cutting: it doesn't matter how poetic, profound, or funny the verse is - if the only people in the audience who get it are the two purists sitting there comparing the production to their personal copy of the First Quatro, then what's the point?