Roman Polanski opens his film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth with an establishing shot composed of equal parts cold, light blue sky and dour, grey beach. The beach begins to fill the screen as a gnarled stick starts scratching out a circle in the sand. Thus Polanski introduces his version of the witches: one of the weird sisters places a noose in the hole, another places a severed forearm grasping a dagger, and the three bury these items in the sand. The final witch then pours a vial of blood on the sand, and the three chant: “Fair is foul and foul is fair, / Hover through the fog and filthy air.” Polanski begins the scene with this couplet (it traditionally closes the scene), and completely fabricates the weird sisters’ grisly rites. This is Polanski’s vision – a grim and visceral portrayal of The Scottish Play, fully realized on the big screen:
All you c-section babies can bail, though.
I’ve already written about the new adaptation of The Scottish Play with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in my Cannes Film Festival piece, but today they released the first trailer for Macbeth. It is bleak and gorgeous, offering an aesthetic more similar to the grime of Braveheart than the polish of your standard Shakespearean tragedy (even though sad things happen at the end, it is usually very pretty and opulent in the meantime). This teaser trailer, unnaturally long at nearly two minutes, provides us with an amazing view of the environment of this new Macbeth, gives us a glimpse into the lyricism of the language that will be employed, and is not afraid to show the main characters descend into power lust and madness. This is a perfect preview of the film, and has me even more excited than I was before.