Theatrical release poster
Directed byJustin Kurzel
Screenplay by
Based onMacbeth
by William Shakespeare
Produced by
CinematographyAdam Arkapaw
Edited byChris Dickens
Music byJed Kurzel
Distributed byStudioCanal
Release dates
  • 23 May 2015 (2015-05-23) (Cannes)
  • 2 October 2015 (2015-10-02) (United Kingdom)
  • 18 November 2015 (2015-11-18) (France)
Running time
113 minutes[1]
Budget$15–20 million[4]
Box office$16.3 million[5]

Macbeth is a 2015 epic historical drama film directed by Justin Kurzel and written for the screen by Todd Louiso, Jacob Koskoff, and Michael Lesslie, based on William Shakespeare's eponymous play.[6] The film stars Michael Fassbender in the title role and Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, with Paddy Considine, Sean Harris, Jack Reynor, Elizabeth Debicki and David Thewlis in supporting roles. The story follows a Scottish lord's rise to power after receiving a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Like the play it was adapted from, the film dramatises the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake.

Macbeth premiered on 23 May 2015 at the Cannes Film Festival where it was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or.[7][8] The film was theatrically released by StudioCanal on 2 October 2015 in the United Kingdom and on 18 November 2015 in France. It received generally positive reviews from film critics who praised both Fassbender and Cotillard's performances, as well as those of the rest of the cast, visual style, script, direction and war sequences. Despite the positive critical reaction, the film grossed just $16 million worldwide against its production budget of $20 million.


Act I

The film starts with the Macbeth's grieving at their child's funeral. Then, Macbeth leads King Duncan's troops into a civil war battle. He emerges victorious, despite losses, including boy soldiers. Three women with a girl and infant approach Macbeth and Banquo, hailing Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor and future King, and Banquo as a father of Kings, before disappearing.

Act II

Duncan hears of Macbeth's victory and executes the Thane of Cawdor for traitorously allying with Norse invaders, giving Macbeth his title. Macbeth tells his wife of the prophecies. Lady Macbeth prays to the dark spirits for guidance. When Macbeth says Duncan will stay overnight, she urges him to kill the King to fulfill the prophecy. A feast is held, where the King pronounces Malcolm his heir. Macbeth hesitates but Lady Macbeth persuades him to kill Duncan while she drugs his servants. After the feast, Macbeth sees a boy soldier's ghost, who gives him a dagger and leads him towards Duncan's tent whom Macbeth slays. Malcolm enters and, seeing the body, flees. Shaken, Macbeth goes to his wife, giving her two daggers. Lady Macbeth rebukes him for not leaving them and puts them in the sleeping servants' hands. She meets Macbeth in the church where they wash their hands, saying they have washed their deed away.


In the morning, Macduff finds Duncan dead and Macbeth slaughters the servants to prevent their denial. Macduff and Noble Lennox believe Malcolm's flight is suspicious and admire Macbeth's summary justice. With Malcolm gone, Macbeth is crowned. Afterward, he sourly complains to his wife that killing Duncan was for nothing as Macbeth has no heirs, so the crown will pass to Banquo and his son, Fleance, as prophesied. He invites them to a banquet but discovers they plan to leave, as Banquo is suspicious. Macbeth sends assassins: Banquo is killed, but Fleance escapes. During the evening, Macbeth mentions Banquo not attending as promised. Macbeth asks the assassins for news and is enraged that Fleance has escaped. Then, Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost. Afraid, he talks to it. Lady Macbeth says her husband is unwell, but Macbeth continues to rave, prompting Macduff and his wife to leave. Lady Macbeth dismisses the guests and takes Macbeth away.

Act IV

Macbeth talks to the witches. They show him a vision of slain soldiers who tell him to beware Macduff, and that Macbeth shall be King until Great Birnam Wood comes to the royal castle at Dunsinane Hill. The boy soldier's ghost who gave him the dagger tells Macbeth that he will not be slain by man born of a woman. The King is found wandering by Lennox who tells him that Macduff has fled. Anxious and enraged, Macbeth orders the death of Macduff's family and servants. The family are burned at the stake, while a distraught Lady Macbeth watches. Afterwards, she washes the dagger. Meanwhile, Macduff meets Malcolm, who is gathering troops. Ross and Angus inform Macduff about his household's murder. Grief-stricken and angry, Macduff swears revenge.

Act V

Guilt-ridden, Lady Macbeth returns to the church, lamenting their deeds and her bloody hands. She sees her child's ghost, which she urges to sleep. Then she wanders in the hills and sees the witches.

In the castle, Macbeth is rumoured mad, and all fear his anger and tyranny. He is told of his wife's death. Speaking the famous soliloquy, starting "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" (also known by the lines in it beginning "Out, out, brief candle!"), he carries her body in despair. Seyton brings news that Malcolm is leading an army and Macbeth demands his armour.

Macduff fires Birnam Wood: with smoke blowing towards them, the prophecy is fulfilled. Macbeth sallies out and duels with Macduff. Macbeth is confident, as "no man born of woman" can kill him, and he defeats Macduff, a dagger at his throat. Macduff states he was untimely ripped from his mother's womb and Macbeth drops his dagger, saying he won't fight (the prophecy). Macbeth regrets his mistakes, knowing redemption is impossible. Macbeth refuses to bow before Malcolm, allowing himself to be killed. The witches, observing, leave. Malcolm is hailed King and all go to his castle. Malcolm leaves the throne room while Fleance takes Macbeth's sword and charges through the empty battlefield, disappearing into the smoke.




The production company behind Macbeth is See-Saw Films; the film was distributed by StudioCanal worldwide. Principal photography took place over seven weeks in England and Scotland,[9] beginning on 6 February 2014 in Scotland.[10] On 21 February, filming took place at Hankley Common in Elstead, Surrey.[11] On 26 February, the cast and crew were spotted on set at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland with almost 200 extras.[12] Other locations used include Quiraing in Skye, and Ely Cathedral in Ely, Cambridgeshire.[13][14][15]


Costume designer Jacqueline Durran was in charge of the costumes for the film.[16] Durran took reference from a book called the Tilke, which is a sort of encyclopaedia of folk costume, compiled and illustrated in the 1920s by a German artist and ethnographer, Max Tilke.[16]


A couple of photos from the film were revealed on 18 April 2014,[17] followed by two teaser posters on 14 May.[18] The first trailer was released by StudioCanal on 4 June 2015 and crossed over 2 million views.[19]

Character posters featuring Fassbender and Cotillard were released on 27 August 2015.[20] The first North American trailer was released by The Weinstein Company on 1 September 2015.[21] A new pair of posters were released on 4 September 2015.[22] In the Philippines, the film was marketed as Macbeth: Warrior King.[23]


Director and stars promoting the film at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

In October 2013, The Weinstein Company acquired distribution rights to the film.[24] Macbeth premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival on 23 May 2015 and was released in the United Kingdom on 2 October 2015 and in France on 18 November.[25] The film had a limited release in the United States across five theatres in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco on 4 December 2015, before expanding theatres on 11 December.[26] The film was released in the Philippines by Pioneer Films on 13 January 2016.[27]

Critical reception

Macbeth has received positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 80% based on 198 reviews, with an average rating of 7.24/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Faithful to the source material without sacrificing its own cinematic flair, Justin Kurzel's Macbeth rises on the strength of a mesmerizing Michael Fassbender performance to join the upper echelon of big-screen Shakespeare adaptations."[28] Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[29]

Writing for The New York Times on 3 December 2015, Manohla Dargis complimented Fassbender's performance in the lead role, stating:

Kenneth Tynan once wrote that 'nobody has ever succeeded as Macbeth' because the character shrinks from a complex figure into a cowering thug. The exception, Tynan continued, immediately contradicting his claim, was Laurence Olivier, who in a 1955 production 'shook hands with greatness.' With his Macbeth, Mr. Fassbender, who routinely shakes hands with greatness in films that don't remotely do the same, produces a man whose anguish eventually becomes a powerful counterpoint to his deeds, partly because he's already dead by the time he utters his first word. Mr. Fassbender gives you a reason to see this Macbeth, although the writing isn't bad, either.[30]

Cotillard's performance also earned high praise from critics, particularly for her rendition of the famous "Out damned spot" monologue. Guy Lodge from Variety stated that "Cotillard electrically conveys misdirected sexual magnetism, but also a poignantly defeated sense of decency," and noted that it was a performance that "contains both the woman's abandoned self and her worst-case incarnation, often in the space of a single scene," and remarked that "Her deathless sleepwalking scene, staged in minimalist fashion under a gauze of snowflakes in a bare chapel, is played with tender, desolate exhaustion; it deserves to be viewed as near-definitive."[31]

Luke Buckmaster of The Daily Review rated the film four out of five stars, calling it "bold" and "fearless" and praising the production values as well as Fassbender and Cotillard's performances, but criticised the actors' poor enunciation or peculiar accents, which distracted from the film's other qualities.[32]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
British Independent Film Awards Best British Independent Film Nominated [33]
Best Director Justin Kurzel Nominated
Best Actor Michael Fassbender Nominated
Best Actress Marion Cotillard Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Sean Harris Nominated
Best Cinematography Adam Arkapaw Nominated
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Justin Kurzel Nominated [34]
Empire Awards Best British Film Nominated [35][36]
Best Actor Michael Fassbender Nominated
Goya Awards Best European Film Justin Kurzel Nominated [37]
Satellite Award Best Art Direction and Production Design Fiona Crombie Nominated [38]
Best Costume Design Jacqueline Durran Nominated


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  17. ^ Anderton, Ethan (18 April 2014). "First Look: Michael Fassbender Holds Marion Cotillard in 'Macbeth'". Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  18. ^ DAVIS, EDWARD (14 May 2014). "First Posters For 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard". Archived from the original on 16 December 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  19. ^ "Macbeth – Official Teaser Trailer". YouTube. 4 June 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  20. ^ "All Hail Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard in New Images and Posters From Macbeth". 27 August 2015. Archived from the original on 30 October 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  21. ^ "MACBETH – Official U.S. Trailer". YouTube. 1 September 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  22. ^ "Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard's 'Macbeth' Posters Stun in Black and White and Blood Red". 4 September 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  23. ^ Unjieng, Philip Cu (25 January 2016). "Shakespeare's masterpiece by another name". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
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  26. ^ "Macbeth (2015) (2015) – Box Office Mojo".
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  30. ^ Dargis, Manohla (3 December 2015). "Review: 'Macbeth,' Starring Michael Fassbender, Awash in Gorgeous Carnage". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  31. ^ Lodge, Guy (23 May 2015). "Cannes Film Review: 'Macbeth'". Variety. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  32. ^ Buckmaster, Luke (2 October 2015). "Macbeth movie review". The Daily Review. Retrieved 26 October 2015. The text is challenging enough without performers mumbling their dialogue or ... coming up with an odd verbal flavour
  33. ^ "The Lobster on a roll with seven British independent film awards nominations". The Guardian. 3 November 2015.
  34. ^ "Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' in the running for the 2015 Cannes Palme d'Or". 17 April 2015.
  35. ^ Nugent, John (18 February 2016). "Jameson Empire Awards 2016: Star Wars and Mad Max lead the nominations". Empire. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  36. ^, Rebecca Lewis for (18 February 2016). "Mad Max: Fury Road leads the pack at the 2016 Jameson Empire Awards". Metro. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
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  38. ^ "Satellite Awards (2015)". International Press Academy. IPA. 2 December 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015.