With a new adaptation of Macbeth hitting screens, it’s time to catch up

  • Rachel Lopez
  • Updated: Dec 05, 2015 21:29 IST

Michael Fassbender is Macbeth. Marion Cotillard is Lady Macbeth. And what looks like Westeros is the setting for Shakespeare’s 400-year-old Scottish play about power, politics, prophecy conscience and intrigue.

This is the film English majors will pick apart, Fassbender fans will watch twice and Marion Cotillard trolls will dissect on Reddit.

Pretend you knew this already with our handy talking points for whenever a discussion about Macbeth occurs.

Say: Something wicked this way comes!

Because: Not only will you be quoting directly from the play (as did the choir in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie), you indicate you know the plot. Shakespeare’s play spotlights Macbeth, Thane of Scotland, who kills his king, plots, cheats, betrays and puts his faith in three sinister witches to become king. No good comes of this. Macbeth is left betrayed and paranoid in turn.

Don’t say: I know this story.

Because: We all do. It’s 2015. No one adapts a 400-year-old play because we didn’t know what it was about. Orson Welles played Macbeth in 1948. Akira Kurosawa’s 1957 film Throne of Blood set the play in feudal Japan. Roman Polanski directed one version in 1971. In Bollywood, Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool (2004) transported the story to Mumbai’s underworld.

Say: So much of Macbeth is in Game Of Thrones.

Because: It’s true. The power struggles in the play and the show are as cruel. You’ll find shades of Banquo in Ned Stark. Malcolm and Macduff mirror Robb Stark’s personality. There’s a bit of Macbeth’s blind ambition in Stannis Baratheon. Lady Macbeth and the witches? They’re both in fiery Melisandre.

Say: Another X-Men actor is playing Macbeth?

Because: So have James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.

Don’t say: Macbeth!

Because: Theatrewallahs believe mentioning its name brings bad luck. So call it “the Scottish play”.

Say: That Marion Cotillard is always the hero’s undoing.

Because: In A Good Year, she made Russell Crowe give up city life for a vineyard in Provence (wouldn’t you?). In Inception, her memory causes Leonardo Dicaprio to fall apart. You know what she does to poor Batman in The Dark Knight Rises. And here she is, trying to get blood off her hands with “Out, damned spot” after she got Macbeth to commit murder.

Don’t say: The lines are tough.

Because: Macbeth’s best lines are wise and simple. In politics, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”. And life itself is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Now you know.

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From HT Brunch, December 6

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