Sunday, 11 October 2015

Soft Porn Sunday: Chloe Armstrong, Kate Bell, Miranda Nation & Sam Worthington

Have I not reason, beldams, as you are?
Saucy and overbold, how did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death?

The film I saw the other day
Had cut a lot out from the play
Including this speech, and others too
Like sisters making witches' brew

Rendering it hard to understand
So stylistically underplanned
That Shakespeare himself would have mourned
At poor Macbeth, which ILB scorned

Still, it's better than this one
With this actor Sam Worthington
And poorly executed effects
Ridiculous set pieces...

...and sex?

Appearance: Macbeth (2006)
Characters: Macbeth & Three Witches

So, as you may have gathered, I didn't like the 2015 version of Macbeth. This is for a myriad of too quiet, too confusing, too lavish and too thinky reasons I'm not going to go into, but among the reasons I don't like this bit of dross is the lack of supernatural activity in it. There are FOUR witches - FOUR!!! - who hardly turn up at all, no mention of ghosts or spirits or familiars, Banquo's ghost is just Banquo wearing makeup, and Hecate isn't mentioned at all.

And since Macbeth is my favourite of Shakespeare's plays - if not actually my favourite play of all time - I wasn't sure whether to get upset or angry over this hatchet job. I settled on both.

Four witches. I mean, really.

*Yoshi noise*
In any case, the 2006 version - set in Melbourne amid gangland wars no seriously please don't ask I genuinely don't know how they made that decision - has more witches in it, which is to say they actually appear and have sort of an effect on the plot, so you'd expect me to like it more. It's not necessarily a better production, and isn't a patch on the Roman Polanski film from 1971, but at least Macbeth has a bisexual orgy with all three witches and WHAAAAAAAAAT?

I may need to contextualise this. This is Act IV, Scene I: the famous "double double, toil and trouble" scene, where Macbeth goes to find the witches to ask them for "advice". In the 2015 version, nothing much happens. In the 1971 version, it's very similar to the play. In the 2006 version, Macbeth is wandering aimlessly down a corridor when a naked witch jumps on him and forces him into a conveniently-placed bedroom.

No, seriously, that's what happens.

What follows probably isn't what William Shakespeare originally envisioned. Three witches (Chloe
Macbeth-Riding for Dummies
Armstrong, Kate Bell - no, another one - and Miranda Nation) appear, heavily tattooed, insane and invariably naked - in a room filled with tealight candles. The first witch (Armstrong) says a mangled version of the "hear our speech, but say thou nought" line in Samuel L. Jackson's voice - either that, or she's in bad need of some Strepsils - before pulling Macbeth (Sam Worthington) onto the bed and...


...something wicked this way comes.

I don't know what's happening here, but there are the soft porn candles.

Macbeth and all three witches then embark on some sort of semi-Satanic magical orgy of magicalness, starting with a nauseous series of crossfades in which not a lot actually happens. Randy Macbeth then makes love to each witch in turn (astride, doggie, missionary, in that order according to number and hotness of witch), them giving him the three revelations (as opposed to the apparitions giving them, but I can forgive that) during sex. While this is going on, whichever two witches aren't otherwise engaged with the penis of Glamis and Cawdor are going at it with each other.

Whatever would Lady Macbeth think?
At least for the first half of the scene. The longest bit of sex - with the third witch - happens while the first two are basically lounging around, as if they've gotten bored with magical precognitious Scot-humping and are just waiting for it to finish. At which point Macbeth has an orgasm which sounds like he's been run through with a sword and falls onto the bed looking like he's wondering why he agreed to do this film.

The entire scene is overlaid with actual porn music - and I really mean that. It's the thumping repeated uhn-tiss beat with swishy overlaid synths and occasional stabs of electric guitar. Of all the decisions, this is the oddest: it's as if they're trying to underline how incongruous this whole set-up is by adding appropriate music. It fits the scene, even if the scene doesn't fit the rest of the film!

I saw this in a cinema with H (who actually is Australian) and I still don't quite understand it.
"Oh fuck! I'm actually in this film!"
Attractive as the witches are (and more believably witchy than the underfed vultures they have in the new version), this is completely baffling: there's absolutely no reason why there should be a massive bisexual orgy which, effectively, has Macbeth cheating on his wife. It genuinely does come out of nowhere, isn't even particularly sexy, and there's too much going on to actually pick up on the three important bits of information Big Mac is meant to be hearing!


For all that I've said, at least the director had a vision and it looks to be realised. I'm not saying it works - because it doesn't, it's awful - but at least he had an idea to make Macbeth more "original". So I suppose the lesson to be learned here is this:

If you're going to fuck up Shakespeare, you may as well fuck it up properly.

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