Review of the film “The Tragedy of Macbeth”: a Shakespearean disappointment


Macbeth’s tragedy presents an absurdly talented ensemble working on a project that has no real reason to exist. Writer / director Joel Coen is parting ways with his brother Ethan for the first time. Macbeth’s tragedy is directed by brilliant performances by Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, but the film begs the question: does the world really need another take on this particular William Shakespeare tragedy?

What is “The Tragedy of Macbeth?” “

From left to right: Denzel Washington as Macbeth and Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth | A24

by Coen Macbeth’s tragedy is based on Shakespeare Macbeth, which was first published in 1623. The story follows a Scottish general named Macbeth (Washington), who discovers a trio of witches (Kathryn Hunter). They inform him of his future of becoming King of Scotland. Macbeth reports this news to his wife, Lady Macbeth (McDormand), who encourages him to act for the crown.

The pressure of this prophecy and Lady Macbeth’s words inspire Macbeth to do whatever it takes to seize the Scottish throne. However, his actions do not go unpunished. Macbeth falls into a pit of madness as he finds himself trapped in a downward spiral full of murder, deception and paranoia. There is no going back.

Joel Coen brings Shakespearean theater to the big screen

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by Coen Macbeth’s tragedy keeps some elements of Shakespeare’s tragedy the same. However, some adjustments are made to make it its own. Elements of madness, power and corruption are still present. News of the Witch Trio fully realizes Macbeth’s biggest dreams and nightmares.

Macbeth’s tragedy integrates the cost of desire into many facets. Macbeth stands at several intersections in this regard, including his rise to royalty, his relationship to Lady Macbeth and her subjects, as well as his very mortality.

Coen’s greatest contribution to Macbeth’s tragedy is the added subtext of aging. This iteration of Macbeth is largely put into action because it only has so much more time. He dreams of a better life for himself and Lady Macbeth. Their very mortality looms constantly beneath the surface of every motivation. By creating a slightly older Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Coen gets an extra layer of undertone.

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” is yet another Shakespeare adaptation

'The Tragedy of Macbeth' examines Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth seated on a bed, looking up

Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth | A24

Macbeth’s tragedy is shot with superb black and white cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel. He has 5 Oscar nominations for other feature films including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Inside Llewyn Davis. Macbeth’s tragedy is further proof that his collaboration with Coen is unstoppable. The film visually blends theatrical gravity and cinematic style.

Traditional Shakespearean speech can take a while for the audience to get used to it. However, Washington achieves one of its most brilliant performances. McDormand shows every ounce of his passion for content through his phenomenal performances. Still, Hunter’s trio of witches steals the show every time they’re on screen. She is truly spellbinding and immediately grabs attention with a stellar onscreen presence.

by Coen Macbeth’s tragedy is far from the first adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. There are over 25 movie adaptations that have tried it out. It’s the kind of A24 movie that Shakespeare lovers will devour, but it’s not very accessible. It’s beautifully shot and wonderfully performed, but it’s far from the best Macbeth film adaptation there.

Macbeth’s tragedy hits theaters on December 25 and airs on Apple TV + starting January 14.

RELATED: ‘The Macbeth Tragedy’: Joel Coen Explains Why The Coen Brothers Are Breaking Up


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