Branagh Tackles 'Macbeth'
Daily Variety, May 12 1999
by Adam Dawtrey
Actor-director Kenneth Branagh,
currently in post-production on ``Love's Labour's Lost,'' plans
to start shooting ``Macbeth'' this fall.
Branagh is writing the adaptation
of the Shakespeare tragedy and will play the title role as the
Scottish nobleman who murders his way to the throne. No other
cast is yet attached. But in a departure from his previous practice,
Branagh may relinquish directing chores.
``We've been talking to some
other people, but at the moment it's possible that I still might
end up directing it, depending on how the script goes,'' he told
After interpreting ``Love's Labour's
Lost'' as a 1930s musical, he is trying to make his ``Macbeth''
even more modern.
``It's one of Shakespeare's shortest
plays, and it will be a short, tight film,'' he said. ``The ultimate
goal is to make this completely contemporary in feel. With each
Shakespeare film I've moved forward in history, and my last film
was set in the '30s, so maybe with this one I'll get to the present
Branagh described ``Macbeth''
as ``a rather horrifying mirror of our age,'' particularly in
the way witchcraft obsesses its characters. ``The superstition
at the heart of the play seems to have gripped us, especially
as we approach the millennium,'' he explained. ``The world seems
enslaved to horoscopes, new age philosophy, signs. There's this
ongoing dread of what's going to happen at the end of the year.''
He also finds modern echoes in
``the desperation, the lust for power, the lust for acquisition''
which drive Macbeth. But Branagh is determined to retain the
``primal, tribal energy'' of the play's Dark Ages setting.
``You have to make sure that
the contemporary setting and feel doesn't diminish the ideas.
It has to be set in a world where murder, war, witchcraft, superstition
and sex are at the forefront of everyone's experience.''
Branagh said he has ``a cunning
plan'' that he believe will solve this creative conundrum, as
well as the question of how closely to stick to the play's Scottish
identity. However, he is keeping the details close to his chest.
The film will again be designed
by Tim Harvey, who worked on ``Love's Labour's Lost,'' and will
be produced by Branagh's regular partner David Barron. Branagh
expects to complete the screenplay within the next month. Shooting
will take place at London's Shepperton Studios.
Branagh is making the films under
a three-picture deal between his Shakespeare Film Co. and film
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