Bard’s bloody tragedy at Royston’s Picture Palace, or why not pop over to Brooklyn?

Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in Macbeth

Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in Macbeth - Credit: Archant

That William Shakespeare, he may have been born a few hundred years too early but he was a born screenwriter.

You can’t deny the boy had an ear for a telling phrase and could tell a good yarn, whether it was based on a true story or summoned out of the ether.

More importantly, he was never slow to pinch scenarios created by others and give them a polish, and regularly worked with collaborators, which are both par for the course in this area.

The famous claim that an early adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew had a screen credit ‘additional dialogue by Sam Taylor’ may be fanciful, but it shows the collaborative nature of the screenwriting process.

But there has been very little tinkering with the latest big screen version of the Bard’s work, because director Justin Kurzel has gone out of his way to stay true to Shakespeare with Macbeth.


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That means lots of blood as man of the moment Michael Fassbender steps up as the ambitious but doomed Scottish nobleman, flanked by his conniving other half (Marion Cotillard) and having to reap the consequences after they decide to kill the rightful king, seize the throne and hope everything ends happily ever after. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t.

Because it makes very few concessions to a modern audience, some may find it hard to follow – there’s a lot of robust period dialogue language spoken through rough Scottish accents, and if you’re not familiar with the story you might struggle.

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Fassbender is mightily impressive as the macho hero who falls apart under the weight of his guilt and has to face the bloody accounting, and Cotillard matches him with a calculated performance as the power behind the throne.

But the supporting cast fires on all cylinders, too, whether they are big names like David Thewlis and Paddy Considine or comparative unknowns.

The haunting score and the bleak Scottish scenery also play their part in a faithful translation of Shakespeare to the screen.

There are showings at Royston’s Picture Palace on Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm.

There’s also a Saturday afternoon showing for hit family animation Minions (3.30pm) and a Sunday afternoon screening for the recently-released Brooklyn, in which Saoirse Ronan does her burgeoning reputation no harm at all in a 1950s period piece about an Irish lass making her way in New York, adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby from the Colm Tóibín novel.

The film has already been widely tipped for awards galore, and you can find out why this weekend.

Visit www.roystonpicturepalace.org.uk to reserve tickets.

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