This is acting at its purest, designed to communicate and enlighten an audience in search of answers. Either through visual and verbal dexterity, or blood-curdling physicality and audible androgyny, this play still has much to teach people about the power of cinema.
The movie hits its stride immediately with a taut, athletic urgency and it contains some superb images – particularly the eerie miracle of Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane, with Malcolm’s soldiers holding tree-branches over their heads in a restricted forest path and turning themselves into a spectacular river of boughs. This is a black-and-white world of violence and pain that scorches the retina.
A gorgeous black-and-white film that harkens back to several cinematic eras, Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth twists an old tale just enough to keep it fresh, but relies on tremendous lead performances by Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand to make the familiar feel exciting.
Stripping “Macbeth” for parts, keeping the focus on the main narrative lines of political assassination and what Macbeth himself refers to as “supernatural soliciting,” Coen turns out to be ideally suited to a straight-ahead, let’s-get-on-with-it rendition.
The cinematography, set and sound design, and performances in The Tragedy of Macbeth are stunning. This is one of the best-looking films of 2021, in my book. I had heard that the dialogue was done in the original Shakespearean language and I was worried that would put me off but it worked perfectly with what Joel Coen set out to achieve. I think this is maybe the most approachable direct Shakespear adaption I've seen.
The Tragedy of Macbeth is an absolutely beautiful looking film, filled with many shots that left me stunned. The minimalistic production design along with the black and white pallet serve this story very well, creating a new perspective for this classic tale. While I can appreciate everything here from a filmmaking perspective, I just can't ever fully get into Shakespeare and find it hard to connect with the story.
The Tragedies of Macbeth
A new adaption of Macbeth is going to have incredibly high expectations, especially one with Joel Coen as director and award-winning actors. Coen created an eerie new world of Macbeth through making a complete black and white film. Color in a film is helpful to differentiate between different characters, emotions and overall scenery. It can also highlight symbolism. I understand the idea of using black and white to further symbolize differences between light and darkness, but it made the film more confusing. Due to the lack of color in this film, I often felt overwhelmed and confused about what was happening, despite having read the play. This artistic choice makes me think that this film would be difficult for a newcomer to Macbeth to enjoy and understand fully. I think many people would be turned away from watching this film if they did not have prior experience with Macbeth. Does Coen not want future generations to experience the story of Macbeth? If I had not read the play recently, the language would be even more difficult to understand on screen. The actors tended to perform their lines with a very monotone delivery which made the language even more difficult to understand (I’m looking at you, Denzel Washington!) However, some performances stood out- particularly Kathryn Hunter as the witch. She contorts herself in one scene and becomes extremely creepy in another. I think her performance was the best in the film, even compared to Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. Overall, I give this film a C due to the confusing artistic choices that made watching it difficult and unenjoyable.
Mr and Mrs Coen replace the Coen brothers in a film with explicit bombastic formal debts and the folly of using the words of the original text. They aspire to distill the metaphysics of the Shakespearean tragedy but as greenhorns they abandon mythology, not understanding anything about the essential function and meaning of the Three Witches, Weïrd Sisters or Wayward Sisters. They can vomit their misanthropy where, how and when they want, but not by **** the work of the Bard furthest from their worldview. That trio of spiritual figures is not attributable to dreamlike visions and fantasies of remorse imagined by the protagonists for their nefarious morality. According to any scholar, they are the symbol of the fatal destiny to which every entity of the universe is subject, deblaming it in the name of a cosmic deresponsibility.