Skye-set Macbeth film up for Cannes Palme d’Or

A NEW blockbuster movie version of Macbeth filmed on the Isle of Skye has landed one of the most prestigious slots at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Michael Fassbender and Marion Cottilard in Justin Kurzel's Macbeth. Picture: Contributed
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cottilard in Justin Kurzel's Macbeth. Picture: Contributed

Australian director Justin Kursel’s film - the latest in a series of big-budget movies to be shot on the island - will be in the running for the festival’s most coveted prize, the Palme d’Or, next month.

Michael Fassbender, who was nominated for an Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave, is in the titular role in the much-anticipated film, which was on location in Skye for around a week last year.

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Set in 12th century Scotland and featuring original Shakespearean dialogue, Macbeth is one of the next big Scottish films awaiting release, along with the adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song, which was filmed in Aberdeenshire last year.

Academy Award-winning French actress Marion Cotillard will be playing Lady Macbeth. Leading English actors Paddy Considine, David Thewlis and Sean Harris are also in the cast.

It is described by Film4, one of its main backers, as “a visceral interpretation of Shakespeare’s most famous and compelling play about a fearless warrior and an inspiring leader, set on the battlefields and within the landscape of medieval Scotland.”

It said Macbeth would tell the story of a “man damaged by war trying to rebuild his relationship with his beloved wife as they grapple with the forces of ambition and desire.”

Germany-born Fassbender’s other films include Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s 2012 Alien prequel, which was also partly filmed on Skye, and Fish Tank, a jury prize at Cannes.

Fassbender is one of the main stars of Slow West, a forthcoming western written and director by John Maclean, the Scottish musician turned filmmaker. The 38-year-old actor has also landed the main role in Danny Boyle’s forthcoming Steve Jobs biopic.

Fassbender will be following in the footsteps of Orson Welles, Brian Cox, Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart, Jon Finch and Sam Worthington in playing the iconic role on screen.

Mike Cantlay, chairman of national tourism agency VisitScotland, said: “The new film adaptation of Macbeth is sure to generate renewed excitement and interest in one of Scotland’s most intriguing figures.

“As we’ve seen with locations associated with the likes of Outlander and Skyfall, there is a huge appetite for ‘set-jetting’, and there’s no doubt that Skye’s big-screen appearance in Macbeth can only be a good thing for the island and Scotland as a whole.

“Historic locations with a strong connection to the real Macbeth, including Glamis Castle, Scone Palace and Cawdor Castle, could also experience a surge in visitor numbers as film fans seek to learn more about the man being portrayed by Michael Fassbender.”

Natalie Usher, director of film at Creative Scotland, which provided £200,000 in funding for Macbeth, said: “We’re really proud to have supported this compelling realisation of one of Shakespeare’s finest works.”