I finally got to see the Patrick Stewart Macbeth this week. On Monday, I watched it with a friend, who was nice enough to record it and invite me over. We were very excited about this. Being the fancy ladies we are, we snacked on raspberry wine, cheese and crackers while watching Sir Patrick Stewart usurp the throne of Scotland. And while we were watching, there was a thunderstorm. How awesome is that? I felt like we were on a blasted heath! Well, if blasted heaths had wine and cheese and crackers, that is.
In fact, our plans for Monday were doubly awesome, because our husbands have band practice at my friend’s house on Mondays. So the plan was rehearsal/football game for them, Shakespeare for us.
Seemed like a good strategy too, but there were a few bumps in the road.
The boys were asked to keep it down, and they did. For a while.
But just as we were coming to the murder scene, just as the tension was building up, right when Banquo and his son are hanging around, getting all jumpy at the sounds of the night, there was a mighty noise from the basement: The dulcet voice of my husband, singing that Bob Wills classic “Big Balls in Cowtown.”
“There’s husbandry in heaven,” said Banquo, staring off-screen like he’d actually been distracted by band practice.
My friend paused the movie. “There’s husbandry in my freakin’ basement,” she said.
And we went downstairs, where the boys had been – between songs and between beers – sneaking the volume up, one notch at a time. It’s a good thing we stopped them, or else it would have gotten all the way up to 11.
Aside from that, the movie was brilliant. Sir Patrick Stewart is the best of all possible Macbeths. As my friend noted, Stewart wasn’t reciting his lines. He was just talking. It was as if the words were his own. I agree with her – because Stewart was communicating Shakespeare’s words so clearly, I was able to understand so much more than I had gleaned from watching the other Macbeth films and from reading the text itself. Stewart beats even Ian McKellan’s 1979 Macbeth, and I had honestly thought that McKellan could not be topped.
I’m still not sure how I feel about Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth. She was very intense. And she was very good at being insane. And her portrayal of Lady Macbeth as being off the friggin’ wall from the very first scene was pretty interesting, but I don’t think she managed to match Stewart’s Macbeth. I didn’t get the marital relationship that I got from McKellan and Judi Dench. Or even from the terrible 1980s production that you can watch online at Netflix. And that relationship is important to me, because the Macbeths work as a pair and I like to see the inner workings of that team. But I’m going to have to watch it again, just to make sure I didn’t miss something, and also because it is that good.