A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Macbeth is brings Shakespeare's epic tale of betrayal and madness to life, with Michael Fassbender playing the lead role. Because the movie is faithful to the the Bard's original text, there's no foul language and little sexual content (a couple is shown kissing and presumably having sex, but nothing graphic is seen). But the violence is frequent and brutal. Battle/fight scenes are prolonged, gory, and painstaking; sometimes it feels unrelenting. Men, women, and children die in horrible ways (burning, beheading, stabbing, and more). Plus, mature themes like marital manipulation, mental illness, and corrupting power are all part of the cocktail.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
MACBETH (Michael Fassbender), an ambitious laird in ancient Scotland, kills his king in order to assume the throne, spurred on by his power-hungry wife (Marion Cotillard). Seeking to maintain his new position, Macbeth goes an murderous rampage, slaughtering anyone who might challenge his right to rule. But with every death, the ill-fated couple becomes more paranoid, and they gradually slip into madness in this adaptation of Shakespeare's classic tale of betrayal.
Is it any good?
Macbeth is epic, cinematic, and gory, with scenes that are stunning to the eye and hard on the stomach. Director Justin Kurzel seems so intent on showing just how brutal the battlefield is that all that blood and gore threaten to overwhelm the film at times -- which may explain how damaged and haunted Macbeth becomes. You can't be so close to so much violence and not be affected in the process.
Fassbender is magnificent here -- bold, pained, defiant, and, yes, disturbed. He meets his match in Cotillard, who grounds Lady Macbeth's ambition in palpable yearning. When she finally takes stock of all that she and the king have wrought, or at least how Macbeth has become wrought by all that they've wrought, she's knocked off her feet -- and her sanity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that Macbeth doesn't shy away from the bloody violence in which the play is soaked. Do you think all these scenes are necessary to the story? Would they have been as effective if portrayed differently?
How does this compare to what you might see in a horror movie? Do different types of media violence have a different impact?
How does this Shakespeare film, set in ancient Scotland, compare to other adaptations of the Bard's classics that are translated to modern times?
Why do you think Macbeth did what he did? Is it solely his fault, or should he share the blame with his wife?
- In theaters: December 4, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: March 8, 2016
- Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine
- Director: Justin Kurzel
- Studio: Studio Canal
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence and brief sexuality
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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