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Cannes has been treated to a sneak preview of Australian director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth, which stars Michael Fassbender as the medieval Scottish laird and Oscar-winning Marion Cotillard as conniving Lady Macbeth.
A two-minute trailer and a scene showing a black-clad Fassbender on a blowy Scottish highland suggested Kurzel has given Shakespeare’s tragedy a Gothic twist, with the future king looking almost vampiric.
The clips formed part of a sizzle reel shown at a promotional reception thrown for buyers and press at one of the festival’s most luxurious venues, the Majestic Hotel.
Colourful American producer Harvey Weinstein showed both the sizzle reel, which included images from about 20 forthcoming films, and some excerpts from completed films. Trade magazine Variety rated Fassbender’s Macbeth “the best trailer performance of the bunch”.
Justin Kurzel gained industry traction as the director of Snowtown, a violent thriller about the real-life murder case in South Australia that won a special mention in the Cannes Critics’ Week section three years ago. Macbeth is produced by The King’s Speech team Iain Canning and Emile Sherman; key crew include cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, who shot both Snowtown and Animal Kingdom, and Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran who has created Macbeth’s black garb. Shooting in Scotland began in February.
Snowtown was certainly bloody. So is Macbeth.
Roman Polanski’s landmark version of Macbeth scandalised audiences in 1971 with its graphic scenes of beheadings and eviscerating swordplay. At the beginning of production, Kurzel was quoted in Variety saying that his version would also offer “a thrilling interpretation of the dramatic realities of the times and a truthful re-imagining of what wartime must have really been like” in the 11th century.
The film is expected to be released towards the end of the year in the run-up to awards season.
Kurzel, meanwhile, is reportedly discussing directing a film adaptation of the video game Assassin’s Creed, again with Michael Fassbender in the lead. The game follows an everyman bartender who is kidnapped and sent back in time to relive the memories of his ancestors, who are all professional assassins.
The Weinstein Company’s presentation also included first footage of St Vincent de Van Nuys, starring Bill Murray and Naomi Watts as a Russian stripper; Harvey Weinstein joked that Watts, who was at the event along with Ryan Reynolds, was being typecast.
Other featured films included Big Eyes by Tim Burton, featuring Amy Adams as an artist famous for very cheesy paintings of characters with the big eyes of the title; World War II romance Suite Francaise with Michelle Williams; and The Imitation Game, with current heart-throb Benedict Cumberbatch as code-breaker Alan Turing.
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