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The Michael Fassbender version of Macbeth was best at not only immersing but also at getting its audience to feel something. I would also add that it had accomplished being the easiest to understand as well. The Fassbender version was unique in comparison to Stewart’s Macbeth when it comes to where it is set. Fassbender’s world was set in an unspecified time period, but still set in a time very comparable to the one in Shakespeare’s Macbeth when you start to look at the buildings and such.
I felt much more uneasy just watching this version with its nightmarish tone, which I think is much more like the original Macbeth. One thing Fassbender’s version did, in quite a bit of contrast to the original play, is the importance of children. Or the lack of it, I guess. Right off the bat, we are introduced to a funeral for Macbeth’s son, which clashes with a lot of different versions. Soon after that, at the beginning of the movie as well, Macbeth and Banquo lead an army of young men (boys), and one of these young led soldiers dies.
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This death ends up haunting Macbeth. Also, after that, you can see the scene where the children of Banquo and Macduff are clearly shown to really drive home the lack of children for the new king. I think the importance of children is something that has increased over many years. Especially when in comparison to a kind of time where the death of children was merely part of life, the kind of time when this was first written. I think the slight evolution in Fassbender’s version of what is right and what is wrong is okay and welcome, as it does not change any of Shakespeare’s messages. This is notable in which how nowhere in Fassbender’s version though can you hear Lady Macbeth say the line, “I have given suck, and know how tender tis to love the babe that milks me I would, while it was smiling at my face, have plucked my nipples from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out” (1.7) as she did in the play.
Fassbender’s version continues to be a version that is easier to understand when it comes to how the ending is portrayed. In the play, in Act 4, when Macbeth revisits the witches, he is told that he will not be defeated until “Great Birnam Wood marches to Dunsinane Hill” (4.1.14-15), which is totally great news to Macbeth considering how impossible that would be. Welp, fast forward to the end of Fassbender’s version, and the witch’s prophecy still holds true, like in the play. Except this time, much more apparent. Creatively, in the movie, this is done by Macduff and his army by burning the forest. The fire from the forest creates a cloud of ash that climbs toward Macbeth’s castle, covering his hands, and is also where he then repeats the “Birnam Wood” line from the play.
I thought the ending was very clever in comparison to others, but also genuinely the easiest to understand. The Fassbender version not only made lines come to life in clever and easy-to-understand ways but implemented its own modern flair when it came to children. Personally, I think if you are going to try and get the point of Macbeth across to a modern audience, you will show them this film.
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