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Subjective take, subjective review: not my taste
on March 5, 2015
This production just isn't my taste, so I won't even pretend to be unbiased. The cinematography and direction are of the Spartacus/300 type--"artsy" stylization that accompanies a lot of shaky camera work, jump cuts, and histrionic performances (even for a stage play).
One of the great things about Shakespeare's writing, which we have learned from so many differing interpretations like this one, is that at the center of everything is great insights into the nature of humanity, and that can be a tremendous scaffolding onto which all sorts of dressings can be hung. But one aspect of Shakespeare that is precious to me, which makes his plays more than just great human dramas, is that he so often involves the supernatural--ghosts, as we see here, in Hamlet, etc.--and in the case of Macbeth, the famous "weird sisters," who, as written, exist unquestionably (as they are seen by multiple characters at once, unlike ghosts who typically only haunt an individual and therefore can be interpreted as psychological manifestations) in both the real world and the supernatural, since they make predictions that come true and have insight into characters' identities without knowing them. The witches are integral to 'Macbeth,' and given how real they are to the story, Lady Macbeth's pleas to and divination of the dark powers of hell take on a fantastical element, as well. Given that, I *need* to see the witches/weyward sisters as what they are...certainly not as gruesome emergency room nurses, as we see them in the opening of this production. This is a story set in a specific time and setting, when and where people's lives were integrated with natural and "unnatural" or evil world forces--they saw the world this way, and so the world was this way for them. The heavy-handed treatment of Macbeth as some sort of World War II parallel just bothers me. I am pretty open to Shakespearean interpretations, but this one definitely is not my taste, and I think some of the choices the producers/director made here detract in a serious way from the power of the source material. If I am imposing my opinions on others, which I am by virtue of writing this, I'd say that this might be an interesting interpretation for people who already know Macbeth very well and are either bored with traditional takes or who are maybe turned on by new interpretations in general, but for people who don't know the play, this treatment is missing a lot. Of course, some people are simply turned off by the supernatural, but some stories require it--Game of Thrones and the Harry Potter series, and even the Bible, offer great narratives, but they lose all their power without the fantastical elements that raise the stakes beyond everyday experience. The same is true of this. Macbeth is of a time and place, and in that time and place, the supernatural was undeniable, and so it should be played out that way. In my opinion. :)