MED231 Australian Cinema
Bibliography and Critical Review
Shannon Beven 30405986

 

                                                   MACBETH.

The Melbourne Underworld. The Present Time.

 

Movie Poster Image for Macbeth

 

Part 1

A Film By: Geoffrey Wright

Co-Producers: Geoffrey Wright
Victoria Hill

Director of Photography: Will Gibson

Production Designer: David McKay

Writers: Victoria Hill (Screenplay)
William Shakespeare (Play)

Costume Designer: Jane Johnston
Makeup and Hair Design:  Nicole Lobegeiger

Composer: John Clifford White
Sound Design: Frank Lipson

Editor: Jane Usher
Casting: Maura and Ann Fay Casting
Marianne Jade
Louise Mitchell

Co-Executive Producers:  Michael Whyke
Terrence Yayson
Peter Phelan

Executive Producers: Michael Grudinski
Garry Hamilton
Greg Stitch
Antonio Zeccola

Co-Produced By:  Jenni Tosi
Produced By: Martin Fabinyi

Director: Geoffrey Wright

 

Production Companies: Mushroom Pictures
with assistance from Palace Films

Distributors: Arclight Films
Paradigm Hyde Films

Country of Production: Australia
Running Time: 109 minutes
Year: 2006
Released: September 2006

 

CAST:
Macbeth: Sam Worthington
Duncan: Gary Sweet
Lady Macbeth: Victoria Hill
Banquo: Steve Bastoni
Macduff: Lacy Hulme

 

Awards:
2006 Australian Film Institute Awards:
                                                        - Won: Best Production Design (David McKay), Best Costume Design (Jane Johnston)
                                                         - Nominated: Best Cinematography (Will Gibson), Best Original Music Score (John Clifford White),) Best Sound (Frank Lipson and John Wilkinson)
2006 Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards:
                                                       - Nominated: Best Editing (Jane Usher), Best Music Score (John Clifford White)
2006 IF Awards:
                      - Nominated: Best Music (John Clifford White)

Bibliography of reviews:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0871536/  accessed 30/4/07
 “At the Movies” Episode dated 27 September 2006. Hosts David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz reviewed ‘Macbeth’ among other films.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/macbeth/2006/09/20/1158431777972.html accessed 30/4/07 Paul Byrnes reviews ‘Macbeth’ September 23 2006  
        ‘Macbeth is remade as a gangland war with new-fangled weapons but old-fashioned gore’

http://www.yourmovies.com.au/movies/?action=movie_info&title_id=24790
accessed 30/4/2007 Mark Beirne from Your Movies reviews Macbeth
         ‘A moody drama/thriller that puts a contemporary spin on a classic tale’

http://www.theage.com.au/news/dvd-reviews/macbeth/2007/03/26/1174761337027.html   accessed 30/4/2007
Michael Idato reviews Macbeth for ‘The Age’ March 26 2007
       ‘A crisp, vital reinvention of one of Shakespeare's most compelling stories.’

http://www.moviehole.net/reviews/20060906_macbeth.html  accessed 30/4/2007
Clint Morris for Moviehole
       ‘The ever-present banshee of the wordy Shakespeare will be giving it two thumbs up. Hopefully there are enough brave cinemagoers to do the same.’
Bibliography of interviews:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=H2ienX67AmY Interview with Director Geoffrey Wright about Macbeth
http://www20.sbs.com.au/movieshow/index.php?action=dispInt&intID=411 ‘The Movie Show’ interviews Director Geoffrey Wright about Macbeth
http://www.webwombat.com.au/entertainment/movies/hulme-macbeth-int.htm Interview by Clint Morris with Lacy Hulme who plays ‘Macduff’ in the motion picture Macbeth
                                                  Sam Worthington and Victoria Hill as Lord and Lady Macbeth.
Part 2
Synopsis

‘Macbeth’ is originally a play by William Shakespeare. It follows the rise and fall of the protagonist Macbeth, who after hearing a prophecy from the Weird Sisters (three witches) conspires with his wife Lady Macbeth to murder his way onto the throne.

The play begins with the tale of Macbeth’s bravery in battle being brought to the attention of King Duncan. The King grants Macbeth the title of Thane of Cawdor, but little does he know that the Weird Sisters have spoken to Macbeth and prophesised that he will become King,
                                    “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter”
Unfortunately for Duncan, Macbeth’s wife (who is far more ambitious than him) convinces Macbeth that the only way to become King is to murder Duncan.

                        “Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand?
                                                Come let me clutch thee…”
Is the famous line that Macbeth utters before he murders King Duncan and frames his guards for the crime. Lucky for Macbeth no one suspects who the real murderer is and he becomes King thus fulfilling the prophecy.

Next in line on Macbeths rather long hit list, is Banquo, because the second part of the prophecy which named Macbeth as King said that Banquo would not be King but his sons would,
                                    “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none”
In order to get rid of Banquo Macbeth hires murderers to kill him and his son while out riding. They manage to kill Banquo however his son escapes much to Macbeth’s disgust.

By this point of the play, Macbeth is starting to feel rather guilty that he has murdered Duncan and ordered the murder of good friend Banquo, that he starts to get quite delusional, seeing the ghosts of those that are dead. His behaviour becomes quite erratic, and Macduff starts to become suspicious of Macbeth. However in his lucid moments Macbeth realises of Macduff’s growing suspicions, which leads Macduff to flee for his own safety.

Macbeth is angry that Macduff has fled and orders the murder of the Lady Macduff and her young son. This incident sends Lady Macbeth crazy with guilt, as she realises that her ambition for Macbeth to become King has turned him into a homicidal maniac and therefore she to, has blood on her hands. She is unable to deal with the guilt and unable to wash the blood off her hands,
                                    “Out out dammed spot…”
so she commits suicide.

With the news of his wife and child’s murder, Macduff and the other Lords come to Macbeth’s place and exact their revenge. With Macbeth now dead, Banquo’s son Florence becomes the new king, thus fulfilling all of the original prophecy.

Critical Review
Geoffrey Wright’s ‘Macbeth’ is a modern take on one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest plays. It attempts to make the play accessible to the modern audience whilst staying true to the original version.

Set in the Melbourne Underworld in present day (rather than in Scotland around the 16th Centaury) we follow the story of Macbeth (Sam Worthington) who lets greed and ambition consume him and in the end pays the ultimate price-his life, and the lives of everyone he once loved. It is a classic tale of greed and ambition combining to achieve betrayal and murder, and one which I believe fits into the modern day setting of the Melbourne Underworld.

One would think that converting a play which was written hundreds of years ago into a modern film with a contemporary setting would be difficult, but I believe that Wright did it extremely well. For instance the original play is set around the characters of Kings, Lords and Ladies, which was appropriate for the time in which it was written. Wright modernises this by turning the King Duncan into the Drug Baron and the Lords the valued members of his crime unit- Drug Lords if you like. The weapons of choice also changed, with the machine gun used rather than the sword or dagger, and the transport is new Audi’s and dirt-bikes rather than horses and carriages.

Another indicator of the contemporary setting of the film is the technology that is featured in it. Macbeth’s house is equipped with security cameras and monitors, much like you’d expect to find in a Drug Lords home. These cameras monitor all comings and goings in the house and also control the opening and closing of the large front gates. This gives the audience that the film they are watching is very modern and that the characters involved are highly dangerous and up to no good. After all, what normal citizen needs that amount of security in the family home!

The idea of witches and the supernatural is one which was far more accepted in Shakespeare’s time. Wright combats this with depicting Macbeth to be on strong hallucigens each time he encounters them. Drugs are a factor in modern day society, and most people have been educated on the various effects they can have. This is why the viewer does not seem surprised that Macbeth believes he can see the witches, and is perhaps the reason that the viewer accepts their existence in the film at all. The other way in which Wright adapts the concept of the witches to his film is by portraying them as rather sexually charged school girls (in the first scene they are destroying a cemetery) instead of the archetypal haggard old witch wit warts and a hump! This also connects with the criminal setting of the film, as the witches are young school girls who engage in a sexual act with Macbeth.

The set design and costumes are an interesting mix of the old and the new in the film. The costumes are very modern, and fit the stereotypical idea of high ranking crime figures and their wives of girlfriends. Very glamorous for the women, who sparkle head to toe with diamonds and flashy dresses, and for the men the occasional suit, but mostly tailored jeans and leather jackets. The set of Macbeth’s house however has an extremely medieval feel to it. The furniture is in period style, the walls are red, the doors are big and solid and the rooms are often lit with candles. This is a way for Wright to make the connection for the viewer between the modern film and the original play.

One aspect of the film that may not appeal to the viewer is the fact that in staying true to the play the whole script of the film is in the language of Shakespeare. This means that ‘Macbeth’ is one of those films that the viewer must actively participate in order to follow the language of the film. It is not a film that you can only half watch or half concentrate in as if you don’t give it your full attention it is very easy to get lost in the plot. Personally I didn’t find the language much of a problem, and really enjoyed the film. Though it would be understandable that the majority of the modern audience, who are used to not having to actively participate when watching a film would find ‘Macbeth’ slightly trying and would be put off the film by the language used.

The film ‘Macbeth’ would fit into the genre classification of a tragedy (it is after all the tragedy of Macbeth!!) but also a crime film, as the setting is the Melbourne Underworld and there are some terrible crimes that are committed in the film. This also contributes to the Australianness of the film, as Melbourne is an Australian capital city and some of the sets are easily identifiable as Melbourne. Another factor in the Australianness of the film is that each member of the cast has an Australian accent and looks like the trendy Australian crime figure. As one critic wrote given the violence of the recent underworld war that is being waged in Melbourne the setting of the film is right on the money,

  “This might have seemed funny a decade ago, but with bodies piled high from Sunshine to St Kilda in Melbourne's real gang war, it now seems entirely plausible and fitting.”

It has been argued that ‘Macbeth’ owes it success partly to Shakespearian films that have come before it, including ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’(1999) but mostly thanks to ‘Romeo and Juliet’(1996) I have to however disagree. ‘Macbeth’ stands proudly on its own two feet, and is I feel the best representation of a Shakespeare play when considering these other films. Reasons for this include the fact that ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’ isn’t easily recognised as Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, and due to its acting and setting becomes yet another American teenpic rather than an impressive modern take on Shakespeare. As for ‘Romeo and Juliet’ I felt that it was far to over-done and despite the original material (Shakespeare) the story became a bit cliché when contrasted to ‘Macbeth’. I also believe that although it was a good film, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was helped along by its big name actors (Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes) whilst despite actors that are not so well known, the performances in ‘Macbeth’ were stronger by far.

Overall I found ‘Macbeth’ to be an extremely good film, with amazing set, and excellent acting. I also felt that Geoffrey Wright did an extremely applaudable job in converting this classic piece into a modern setting.


Paul Byrnes http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/macbeth/2006/09/20/1158431777972.html accessed 30/4/2007

‘Ten Things I Hate About You’ (1999) Gil Junger

‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1996)Baz Lurhmann