In my new job working in a secondary school library, I now have access to a variety of plays by Shakespeare (some that I have not seen yet), so I chose a version of Macbeth featuring Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. Why? I like to study something thoroughly and I have been studying Macbeth all year (trying to pace myself between viewings and essays about the play). There are only a few movies left to see and I have been surprised by a bonus showing of the play on CBC from the Stratford Festival, Ontario (which to my mind is the best one I have seen yet... Macbeth and his lady had serious chemistry, and the witches gave me the shivers!). But I'm digressing here...
This play, whilst performed by excellent actors, was not Scottish. As a matter of fact their perfect, well-spoken British accents just threw me off completely and it was only when Judi Dench entered the scene that things began to come together into something that interested me. Judi Dench was perfect... despite the accent, I could look past that into her performance which was chilling to the bone and nothing I have ever seen her do before. When she lost her mind it was disturbingly convincing... she is a master of her craft.
I love Ian McKellen, but I don't feel that Macbeth was his best role.
Despite this, it is a good story, and at the end of every play I have ever seen attributed to William Shakespeare I have been entertained, even if I did't like the format very much.
The form of this play was very simple; a room with lighting and a few props to indicate different scenes, it was very effective in presenting this version of the play as a psychological thriller, making it suspenseful, honing it's focus to the language of the play and it's participants. With that purpose in mind, of making this something to mess with the mind some things became truly worse, like the drooling and frothing at the mouth of the prophetic witch and the gore that was on Mabeth's hands (it's not a play to watch while snacking!).
It's not my favourite version, but just watching Judi Dench's Lady Macbeth is worth putting up with the rest.