VOD film review: Macbeth (2010)
Ivan Radford | On 24, Apr 2021
Director: Rupert Goold
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Kate Fleetwood
Where to watch Macbeth (2010) online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent)
“Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Those are the words we’ve heard many times from the mouth of Macbeth, but they get a fresh lease of life in Rupert Goold’s 2010 TV film of his 2007 stage production. Relocating the tragedy from period Scotland to an unspecified central European nation, it’s a bloody, bold interpretation of the play, one that hums with Stalinist terror and brutality.
Patrick Stewart steps into the shoes of the ambitious warrior and brings with him an imperious quality; he stalks the halls of this mostly underground world with a stern, determined air, a dictator in waiting but also a man in thrall to his wife. Kate Fleetwood is equally good as the calculating Lady Macbeth, whose own guilt-driven undoing comes when his murderous rise leaves him climbing above her influence.
The dark, nasty tone is echoed through every facet of the fair and foul production, which was filmed in Welbeck Abbey. The claustrophobic series of tunnels and windowless chambers is lit from above, casting everyone in a fallen light. This dank, damp realm, in which chasms descend yet further down, bleeds from ballrooms into military hospitals. It’s occupied not just by Macbeth and his ilk but also by a trio of witches who initially appear as nurses creepily standing over a corpse.
Goold, making his screen directorial debut, leans into the blue-tinted, red-splattered horror vibe, and his choppy, eerie visuals bring a chilling malevolence to Shakespeare’s text – although the less said about a sequence in which the witches effectively rap, the better.
But for all the surface-level flourishes, the play works because the cast anchor these supernatural events with their grounded performances – scenes such as Macduff (Michael Feast) learning about the fate of his family and Martin Turner’s Banquo re-appearing hit home with the same impact as the gun-toting murders. But this is undoubtedly Patrick Stewart’s show, and he brings a movingly human quality to his final moments, which rediscover the tragedy of Macbeth with a note of nihilistic despair. This is a tale of a man losing his head that packs more sound and fury than most productions, but certainly doesn’t signify nothing.
Macbeth (2010) is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.