Macbeth by William Shakespeare can be put into perspective in many ways. On the following pages, we relate the play to its historical context, its literary period, and to similar texts as well as films.

Here you can read an extract from our study guide:

Michael Fassbender stars as Macbeth in the 2015 adaptation of the play, Macbeth by Justin Kurzel, where Marion Cotillard stars as Lady Macbeth. It is a dark and gloomy adaptation (like Shakespeare’s play itself), but it also portrays the vulnerable side to the Macbeths. The film begins with the funeral of the Macbeths’ child where we see both parents grieving. This scene does not exist in the play and adds emotional depth to the characters, making them appear less cold-hearted. Lady Macbeth may perhaps also appear less evil and more fragile in this adaptation because we see her subsequent destruction in detail.

In the final scene, Banquo’s son, Fleance, appears as he runs across a battlefield with the dead Macbeth’s sword. Possibly, this is Kurzel’s way of underlining that Banquo will indeed father future kings, like the witches’ prophecy said. In Shakespeare’s play, Fleance is strangely absent in the final scenes.

The film was not a commercial success, but it generally received positive reviews, particularly for being loyal to its source material and for the performance of its leading actors. If you watch the trailer on YouTube, it will give you an impression of the mood of the film.

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