An astonishing achievement.
Two of England's greatest actors, Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench, electrify in this lean, stripped-down production of Shakespeare's darkest tragedy. In the wake of a battle, the Scottish warrior Macbeth (McKellen, Gods and Monsters, Lord of the Rings) receives a prophecy from a trio of witches: He shall be king. When fate doesn't unfold quickly enough, Macbeth and his even more ambitious wife (Dench, Shakespeare in Love, Iris) decide to give it a push. McKellen sweats anxiously and oozes a creeping lust for power, while Dench is hypnotically vicious from her first moment. For audiences used to their film careers, this grand pair will seem young as pups (this TV movie is from 1979, adapted from an acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production)--but that only gives them an added edge of sex and vigor. --Bret Fetzer
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