martin scorsese kenneth branagh macbeth

Save for some alternate, high-concept staging that actually knows why it should break from a well-worn tradition, another Macbeth really isn’t something the world needs. (Much as I love Michael Fassbender and am growing warm toward Marion Cotillard, the soon-to-premiere version from Justin Kurzel better impress if I’m to see it as remotely necessary.) And so the idea of Martin Scorsese spending his precious time on an adaptation with Kenneth Branagh, perhaps the most Shakespearean of living actors, was a bit groan-inducing, no matter how well Marty and the Bard’s respective sensibilities might merge into a unified whole.

But the first official details have caught my eye, and although it’s always possible that the choice in subject won’t live up to the combined pedigree — a combination that, to my mind, is only justified because this is going in a different direction — consider the intentions. As The Telegraph inform us, Scorsese’s picture will be “more of a documentary piece than a straight Macbeth adaptation, following Branagh and his actors as they perform at Leavesden across a period of several weeks.” Simple enough, sure, though Branagh’s production wasn’t just a stage, actors, costumes, and some swords. Consider a Washington Post review of the New York production:

The sensory immersion begins the instant the doors of the Park Avenue Armory swing open and you enter a 55,000-square foot drill hall that has been transformed into a Scottish plain. Along a winding path you pass a series of hooded figures as you approach a towering set of rocklike monoliths that resembles Stonehenge. In the distance, dozens of candles illuminate the apse of an ancient Celtic church, where a veiled woman kneels in prayer, while you find your place on one of the pair of 550-seat grandstands that flank a narrow, dirt-filled stage.

A film that brings us inside the construction of this — both the down-and-dirty physical labor and their creative process, why it was made like so — while allowing us to observe the project already has a fascinating mix between fact and fiction, and that it’s to be shot at the large Leavesden Aerodrome should only help bring it to life. More time with a story that anybody possessing a high-school education is at least passingly familiar with? No thanks. A great director and a Shakespeare expert investigating another staging? Now we’re talking.

How do you react to the possibilities of Scorsese and Branagh’s Macbeth?

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