A24 | Release Date: December 25, 2021
7.1
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Generally favorable reviews based on 109 Ratings
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7
MattyiceJan 25, 2022
While it is practically an abridged straight version of Macbeth, the Tragedy of Macbeth is a unique adaptation of the Scottish Play that mesmerizes at times. The writing still holds onto the old English roots without fail (for better orWhile it is practically an abridged straight version of Macbeth, the Tragedy of Macbeth is a unique adaptation of the Scottish Play that mesmerizes at times. The writing still holds onto the old English roots without fail (for better or worse), while the acting, cinematography, and set design stretch the boundaries between play and film, which is quite admirable and special for someone who hasn't watched the play before. However, given its nature, the fact I've seen Macbeth many times before, and how many adaptations of Macbeth have been created already, it's hard to call this film anything more than good. It's still at its core Macbeth, but the creativity and greatness of the film comes through its sheer production and atmosphere, rather than its story and character work, which makes it definitely one of the most unique Shakespeare adaptations, alongside Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet. If you can appreciate that at least, you will certainly appreciate this watch. Expand
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7
Jmeraz8Feb 6, 2022
The Tragedy of Macbeth by Joel Coen is amazing if you like the play of Macbeth. Personally I am not a huge fan of the play because of the Shakespearean language which makes it hard to read but it is even harder to understand when watching theThe Tragedy of Macbeth by Joel Coen is amazing if you like the play of Macbeth. Personally I am not a huge fan of the play because of the Shakespearean language which makes it hard to read but it is even harder to understand when watching the movie. Joel Coen does a great job of staying true to the text and does not change up the wording very often which makes it feel like you are reading the play straight out of a book. The Shakespearean style makes it hard to sit though because it is very boring and it is hard to turn Macbeth into a movie. It is hard to make Macbeth into a movie because it is a very long play so it would be hard to fit the whole play into one movie. The best thing to do is spilt it up into two movies to capture the whole play. One thing great that Joel Coen does with this movie is the actors. Denzel Washington does a fantastic job as he always does in movies. He gives the movie a new life with his amazing acting ability. Frances McDormand does an amazing job as she always does. I think that Denzel and McDormand have an Oscar nomination heading their way. Also the three witches played by Kathryn Hunter gives the movie a creepy feeling with her opening the movie with her contorting her body in many different ways that a body should not. Along with her contorting her body, her raspy voice gives the movie a gothic feeling especially with the black and white of the movie. The cinematography of the movie is amazing with the camera never really staying in one place. Overall I would give this movie a B- because it is visually amazing and the acting is good but the tempo of the movie is very slow. It takes awhile for King Duncan to die while in the play it takes 2 Acts for Duncan to die. Expand
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8
prodriguez44Feb 6, 2022
The well-known film producer, Joel Coen, has recently released an adaption of a popular Shakespeare play “Tragedy of Macbeth” on Apple TV Plus and it is all the rave. With many Hollywood legends featured such as Denzel Washington and FrancesThe well-known film producer, Joel Coen, has recently released an adaption of a popular Shakespeare play “Tragedy of Macbeth” on Apple TV Plus and it is all the rave. With many Hollywood legends featured such as Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, Coen still manages to stay true to Shakespeare's fine work of art. The brutalist architecture, the black and white film, and the original play lines demonstrate Coen’s attempt of maintaining the original ambitious and pernicious plot. Joel Coen uses Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's roles to highlight the corruption and human weakness seen today. Coen does a remarkable job of portraying Lady Macbeth and Macbeth's sinful desires and lust for power. Lady Macbeth plays a significant role in providing consolation for Macbeth but is also detrimental to his mental state. This is evident in the scene where Lady Macbeth and Macbeth argue on whether to kill King Duncan or not. Lady Macbeth questions Macbeth's manhood for not wanting to kill King Duncan but she comforts him by reminding Macbeth that they would soon have everything they dreamed of. When reading the play, some may have imagined a scene full of screaming and arguing however Coen depicts it differently. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth's performance is much less exaggerated, the two whisper to each other to discuss their plans. To many, this might have seemed like a disappointment but I believe Coen did this purposefully. The actor's calmness in this situation leaves the reader with a sense of eeriness and foreboding. Joel Coen knows just the right time to amp up the mood. In Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking performance the viewers are forced to watch how her ambition has overtaken her, driving her mad. During this time, Macbeth also begins to lose his morality and conscience. Although their insanity comes quickly it is well performed. In Joel Coen’s adaptation of “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, Lady Macbeth is depicted as one of the most important signs that Macbeth has lost control and his humanity. This relationship duo keeps the viewers on their toes. The authenticity of this play and the chaotic plot was amazing. The actors did a great job of changing the viewer's mood, oftentimes leaving the readers to search for their own answers. The moral of the story can be related to any era which is why many find this play engaging. The final scenes of the play left the viewers with satisfaction as we saw the good defeat the evil. Although there were some setbacks such as the actors' American accents the author this up with the mysterious setting and actors. I would rate this play a B+ Expand
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7
moviemitch96Jan 1, 2022
The latest adaptation of this classic Shakespeare play sees Macbeth played in true tour de force-style by Denzel Washington, and Lady Macbeth played equally as brilliantly by Frances McDormand. Those who are Shakespeare nerds like me or areThe latest adaptation of this classic Shakespeare play sees Macbeth played in true tour de force-style by Denzel Washington, and Lady Macbeth played equally as brilliantly by Frances McDormand. Those who are Shakespeare nerds like me or are familiar with the story know how this one goes. Macbeth is visited by 3 witches who prophesize that he is to become King of Scotland, and becomes hellbent on fulfilling this supposed prophecy and stopping anyone who gets in his way. Naturally, murder and mayhem ensue. While the film is a rather straightforward adaptation, the basics are made up for through powerful and committed performances from all involved. Washington and McDormand are a duo to be reckoned with here, but the biggest MVP just might be Kathryn Hunter as the 3 witches, who gives such a haunting performance! Other standout supporting players include Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan and Corey Hawkins as Macduff. In addition, the film manages to set the right kind of eerie mood with a reduced aspect ratio and black and white cinematography. But overall, it's an admirable confident take on the classic Shakespeare play with winning performances from all and unique production values, even if it is a little basic and straightforward in delivery in the end. Expand
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8
Brent_MarchantJan 2, 2022
While William Shakespeare's legendary tragedy has been translated to the screen more times than one can count, this version from director Joel Coen does remarkable justice to the material in technical terms. The stark black-and-whiteWhile William Shakespeare's legendary tragedy has been translated to the screen more times than one can count, this version from director Joel Coen does remarkable justice to the material in technical terms. The stark black-and-white cinematography and stylish production design reminiscent of German expressionism are positively stunning, suitably complemented by deft film editing and the ethereal score of Carter Burwell. The superb ensemble cast delivers, too, particularly protagonist Denzel Washington and supporting players Corey Hawkins and, especially, Frances McDormand. If I were to find a shortcoming here it would be that the picture isn't as emotionally engaging as it could have been, with its cold, distant ambiance putting up an often-imposing wall between narrative and viewers. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, given the filmmaker's take on this story, but it admittedly keeps the audience at arm's-length more than some cinephiles may feel comfortable with. Still, the timeless quality of this tragedy nevertheless comes through, making this one of the finer offerings of 2021. Expand
2 of 4 users found this helpful22
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8
bertobellamyJan 16, 2022
Finally, a great AppleTV+ film!

This film/play hybrid is a bold experiment, and a very rewarding one. Without his brother Ethan, Joel Coen makes the least coenesque movie of their filmography. Another recount of 'Macbeth' sounds just
Finally, a great AppleTV+ film!

This film/play hybrid is a bold experiment, and a very rewarding one. Without his brother Ethan, Joel Coen makes the least coenesque movie of their filmography.

Another recount of 'Macbeth' sounds just redundant and exhausting, but this one brings some new things to the table.

The acting is very good, especially that of Denzel Washington, who translates his love for plays with a very twisted and impactful role. Also, Frances McDormand looks very menacing as Lady Macbeth, and that's something I was not expecting from her.

But the two things that truly caught my eye are the production design and Bruno Delbonel's photography. The use of German expressionism gives the film a very frightening look, enhancing the vastness of the brutality displayed here. There's also a masterclass of using shadows in almost every scene.

Oh, and the witches are beyond amazing. Kathryn Hunter's representation of the iconic trio will haunt your dreams for some nights.
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7
GinaKJan 10, 2022
More style than emotion in a production that was much more an exercise in filming dark sets than in generating any of the traditional tragic emotions of pity and terror. Sound and fury signifying not very much. Not boring, but notMore style than emotion in a production that was much more an exercise in filming dark sets than in generating any of the traditional tragic emotions of pity and terror. Sound and fury signifying not very much. Not boring, but not particularly exciting either. Not the worst production I've seen, but far from the best. Grim is probably the best description. Expand
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7
migdalorguyJan 16, 2022
As a film, this is a brillaint creation, with some truly stunning acting, and clever visual imagery. However, no truer statement could be said ither than that which the film itself says, that is it "based on" the play by William Shakespeare.As a film, this is a brillaint creation, with some truly stunning acting, and clever visual imagery. However, no truer statement could be said ither than that which the film itself says, that is it "based on" the play by William Shakespeare. It is NOT "the play" by William Shakespeare. It does an incredible job of telling the story as understood and interpreted by Joel Coen, which can be said of many productions of Shakespeare on stage and on film. There's nothing inherently wrong with that. The only place it fails for me is in this: Shakespeares plays, even the tragedies, were written to be "entertainments." It is possible to convey even the heaviest elements of the depp and drak story line of this and other Shakespeare tragedies while allow them to remain entertainments. It seems as Coen has determined to do just the opposite, and create this brooding, melancholy (though cinematically powerful) film. 'Tis a shame, for the true challenge in moiunting a stage or film production of this play and other Shakespearean tragediues is in finding how to keep them "entertainments" while simultaneously conveying the philosophies and observation about the human condition woven into these fine plays. Go see it or stream it—it is fine filmmaking and even fine Shakespearean interpretation. It is not, however, Shakespearean fare. Expand
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7
HerickDienerJan 15, 2022
"The Tragedy of Macbeth" não é um filme para todos, e seria difícil julgá-lo como um.

Ele é nitidamente fiel a peça de Shakespeare na qual foi adaptado, por isso, pessoalmente, seus vários, longos e rebuscados monólogos não me agradam. Mas,
"The Tragedy of Macbeth" não é um filme para todos, e seria difícil julgá-lo como um.

Ele é nitidamente fiel a peça de Shakespeare na qual foi adaptado, por isso, pessoalmente, seus vários, longos e rebuscados monólogos não me agradam.

Mas, se tirar tudo isso, ainda sobra um esqueleto de história bastante interessante, que nos faz assistir até o seu final.

Além de ser um espetáculo técnico, com destaque para a fotografia e som, a direção implacável de Joel Coen, e os sempre ótimos Denzel Washington e Frances McDormand. Já podemos cancelar quem escolheu por a Frances como principal ao invés de coadjuvante nessa temporada de premiações?
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9
RatedRexDec 27, 2021
In this cinematic era of superheroes, Macbeth may be the first non-biblical superhero saga ever told. I've read the story, I've seen the theatrical play, and I've watched about six versions of the story on film. Roman Polanski's bloody,In this cinematic era of superheroes, Macbeth may be the first non-biblical superhero saga ever told. I've read the story, I've seen the theatrical play, and I've watched about six versions of the story on film. Roman Polanski's bloody, gruesome version of "Macbeth," released in 1972, was my favorite version... until now. What sets "The Tragedy of Macbeth" above the rest is the cinematography, the production design, the dreadful mood, the haunting atmosphere, and, most of all, the outstanding performances, especially by Denzel Washington. Expand
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10
mohdfahadJan 14, 2022
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. FRANCES McDORMAND has unsurprisingly given the BEST PERFORMANCE of the year!!! Expand
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8
JLuis_001Jan 12, 2022
The first film Joel Coen has directed without his brother Ethan since 2003's Intolerable Cruelty, it's a film that feels very different from anything they've been making together.

Shot in a sober and elegant black and white that gives it an
The first film Joel Coen has directed without his brother Ethan since 2003's Intolerable Cruelty, it's a film that feels very different from anything they've been making together.

Shot in a sober and elegant black and white that gives it an aura of film noir, The Tragedy of Macbeth is a taciturn interpretation of the legendary Shakespeare's play that respects the feeling of watching a stage performance, attentive to its origins and yet is an excellent piece of filmmaking.

The pairing of Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand didn't quite convince me, but the work of both is impeccable. Above all and by far Washington's.

It may not appeal to purists of the source material, and I do believe that those who expect something a lot more exciting will be bored out of their minds, but if you're the kind of moviegoer who likes a film that completely grabs you as you slowly digest it, then The Tragedy of Macbeth is definitely for you.
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7
Rebecca31Apr 3, 2022
Yet another retelling of Macbeth comes from director Joel Coen, starring Denzel Washington as Macbeth, Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth, Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan and Corey Hawkins as McDuff. Most of you will already know the plotYet another retelling of Macbeth comes from director Joel Coen, starring Denzel Washington as Macbeth, Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth, Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan and Corey Hawkins as McDuff. Most of you will already know the plot synopsis but for those of you who weren’t forced to read Macbeth in school, it’s the story of a Scottish lord becoming convinced by a trio of witches that he is destined to become the next King of Scotland. Obsessed by this idea and with the support of his wife he begins to set in motion his plan to seize power.

Artistically I liked the look of The Tragedy of Macbeth, the harshness of the black and white and impressive camera shots were nice to look at and created an eerie atmosphere. But at the same time it felt very stagey, I felt like I was in a theatre watching this on stage. This seemed intentional but for a film adaptation I’m not really in favour of this form of storytelling. It does allow for all the focus towards the actors and the script. The cast are all exceptional, Denzel and Frances particularly. It’s probably the spookiest adaptation of Macbeth you’ll ever see, everything from the cinematography, lighting, soundtrack and the witches are highly effective in creeping you out.

This is the second recent version of Macbeth to appear on the big screen and although both this adaptation and the 2015 version with Michael Fassbender are good in their own way I believe the next adaptation will need to do something different. So whoever decides they want a chance to adapt Macbeth again for the big screen please have a read of Jo Nesbø’s modern take on Macbeth and adapt that instead. Recommended for the Shakespeare fans.
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8
r96skFeb 15, 2022
Not quite to my personal taste, though I still enjoyed 'The Tragedy of Macbeth' enough.

The performances of Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand are superb, I always expect that from them both so I was delighted to see that be the case
Not quite to my personal taste, though I still enjoyed 'The Tragedy of Macbeth' enough.

The performances of Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand are superb, I always expect that from them both so I was delighted to see that be the case here. The rest of the cast are good too, including Brendan Gleeson and Corey Hawkins - get that guy back in 'The Walking Dead' universe a.s.a.p.!

I know it was by design and fully intentional, but I didn't love - not that I disliked them - the fake backdrops and theatre-esque staging, which doesn't help bring the world alive - for me, anyway. The black-and-white is neat, mind. It is, even with the aforementioned, a nicely made production.

8/10 from me, with this 2021 release having the two leads to thank for that extra 1/10.
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8
AJ_13Feb 7, 2022
I did not expect to enjoy this one that much. Joel does a nice job adapting Shakespeare's original script, equally captivating and ununderstandable. The crafts are amazing and I doubt I could have liked this more than actually I have.
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8
Dtate28Feb 3, 2022
Joel Coen's rendition of Shakespeare's Macbeth is a riveting film that creates goosebumps while watching. Kathryn Hunter's fantastic acting as the three wicked witches sends shivers down the spine as she contorts her body in terrifying ways,Joel Coen's rendition of Shakespeare's Macbeth is a riveting film that creates goosebumps while watching. Kathryn Hunter's fantastic acting as the three wicked witches sends shivers down the spine as she contorts her body in terrifying ways, speaks with a rasp, and morphs into things like a bird. Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand work together to portray the murderous couple of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth seeking the throne of Cawdor. However, in this film, it seems as if Lady Macbeth isn't as angry and crazy as portrayed in Shakespeare's text, which is slightly disappointing. The couple appears to be occupying the space together but have an empty connection.
The striking visuals with the angles and haunting black and white is like nothing I've ever seen before. Coen's choice of simplistic black and white lighting with an overexposed background created a simplistic setting rarely seen in modern-day films.
While Coen did a phenomenal job of style and dark sets, the film wasn't all that exciting. Along with the illumination, the intense sound effects created a feeling of being an audience member watching the story unravel. These traits set Coen's adaptation apart from many other Macbeth films. This film was very aesthetically pleasing but didn't do a great job of portraying the emotion, pity, and terror of Macbeth that I would want to see. Ultimately, Joel Coen did a beautiful job creating pretty scenes and backgrounds while keeping most of the language the same. However, I wish there was more emotion and excitement in the film that kept me eager while watching. I give this Macbeth adaptation an A-.
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7
jmoraandrad1Feb 4, 2022
The 2021 adaptation of Macbeth starring Denzel Washington translated the original play into a beautiful film using eerie lighting and dramatic sound effects. The most drastic editing decision, in my opinion, is the over-exposure of theThe 2021 adaptation of Macbeth starring Denzel Washington translated the original play into a beautiful film using eerie lighting and dramatic sound effects. The most drastic editing decision, in my opinion, is the over-exposure of the backgrounds. It gives the actors more space to show plots through expressions rather than giving more attention to the scenery. This also calls more attention to the original Shakespeare writing which is very important to keep the original story. More specific details have an advantage in scenes like Macbeth's murder. The lack of distracting background lets metaphors shine, like Macbeth reaching for his crown before dying. Due to the muted background, this adaptation gives the feeling of a simplistic play, making this adaptation of Macbeth unlike any other. I think that it made watching a film adaptation more unique and gave a new perspective to films based on plays. Sound effects also made a big change in the way you perceive the scenes. Simplistic sound effects decisions also had an impact on the way the movie felt; like you were watching Macbeth Shakespeare as a play. In the scene after Macbeth kills Duncan, the ticks of the water droplets make a more intense feeling for the viewers. Less is shown as more, in this case, less dramatic big details and more little details bring the viewer the same feeling as reading Macbeth. Overall, I give the film an A- rating because although the same eerie feeling you get while reading was captured in the movie, I think It could keep the same attention to detail by making the translation more understandable to people who haven’t yet read Macbeth. Expand
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8
MagdalenaTrutaFeb 4, 2022
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. An Interesting Tragedy
This particular version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is very different from most of today’s movies, mainly because of Coen’s choice to make it black and white. However, as a result, they were able to use lighting and shadows as a framework to a greater extent than most movies in color. Another point to make about the background is the minimalistic scenery that makes it a little too modern. It doesn’t seem like the play is taking place in 11th century Scotland. Other decisions I didn’t expect pertained to the characters or their interpretation of Shakespeare’s text, such as Fleance being so young and timid. The Macbeths have a much closer relationship in the movie than they do in the play as well. It sort of undermines Lady Macbeth’s power in their relationship because they really are partners, even though she also hides his follies, one of which is killing the guards framed for the murder of Duncan. In that very scene, I was particularly bothered by Macbeth being seriously unconvincing. There were numerous laudable things about “The Tragedy of Macbeth'' nonetheless. The witches and the scenes with them were one of my favorite aspects of the movie. Portraying them as contortionists and the idea of only seeing one but hearing the other two echo her was intriguing. Another character I believe to have been one of the most captivating was Lady Macbeth, just like in the play. Changes going on within her were very apparent from her facial expressions and behavior to her manner of speaking. In fact, the whispered dialogue and unnerving calmness the other characters also displayed at times gave the movie an eeriness fitting the tragedy. The booming sounds made by the blood dripping on the floor was an excellent way of making the movie more horror-like as well. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” is definitely not for those who have never read the play though, primarily because of the language, which is confusing unless analyzed beforehand. For me, the movie was a solid B+.
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8
Sono_MomoFeb 4, 2022
Clearly, the choice of Denzel Washington to play a sensitive English role called Macbeth is the film's biggest weakness that could not be ignored. The skin colour of Denzel Washington and his American acts, despite the actor's golden record,Clearly, the choice of Denzel Washington to play a sensitive English role called Macbeth is the film's biggest weakness that could not be ignored. The skin colour of Denzel Washington and his American acts, despite the actor's golden record, kept any viewer away from the atmosphere of Macbeth and the land of Scotland. Strict adherence to Shakespeare's play sometimes confuses the understanding of the dialogues. If I wanted to watch The Tragedy of Macbeth theater, I would go to the theater, not see it on the silver screen without a special adaptation! The strongest and most prominent role is played by Kathryn Hunter, who created memorable scenes. Lady Macbeth's character was not properly addressed, but Francis McDormand's performance improved it somewhat. Expand
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7
aperez307Feb 5, 2022
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” is a stunning adaptation of the play and is carried out wonderfully with a cast that delivers, for the most part, satisfactory performances. My favorite part of the whole thing was the cinematography. First and most obvious, the film is in black and white. As one critic said, “Because color didn’t exist during Shakespeare’s time right?” In all seriousness, making the film in black and white was a smart choice. I was hesitant about it at first because I don’t usually gravitate towards black and white films since I find them dull and boring. But with this movie, it worked really well and was able to capture the gloomy and ominous mood that I felt while reading the play. With the movie being in black and white the lighting was superb. In the film we often see Macbeth lurking in the shadows and emerging from them. This use of dark shadows and light seems to be a way of showcasing Macbeth’s character all throughout the film. He commits some of the most gruesome actions yet he lies and continues to present himself as this noble king. The dressing of the set, or more so the lack thereof, made for an incredibly barren castle. This was an excellent way of representing the future of Macbeth’s reign as he has no children and therefore bears a fruitless crown. While I loved what I saw, I was not the biggest fan of what I was hearing. The dialogue in the film was at times hard to digest. Unless you had previously read the play, the movie would be confusing. In my opinion, it’s just incredibly difficult to translate this play onto a movie screen without making it awkward or hard to understand. Some of the performances that I did enjoy were Kathryn Hunter’s and Frances McDormand’s. Hunter’s portrayal of the three witches blew my mind. The raspiness of her voice, making her a contortionist, and her dreary appearance all tied for a really cool draw-up of the play’s most foul and fascinating characters. McDormand as Lady Macbeth was also pleasant to watch. Her facial expressions were top-notch, especially in the scene where Macbeth is professing his love for Duncan and that being the reason he killed the guards. I also noticed her using hand gestures while she spoke, which I think added to her performance. All in all, this film had a beautiful look to it and that really carried it. I give it a 7. Expand
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7
ekang3Feb 6, 2022
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth is characterized by its strong cast of actors and stark yet stunning visuals. Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand’s performances as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are the highlights of the movie, portraying their characters with passion and accuracy. The movie’s acting is enough to stand out by itself, but the gray backgrounds and black and white style of the movie also contribute to this movie’s dramatic and dialogue-focused spirit. While the black and white visuals of the movie are a unique choice, they match the dark and sinister themes that are present in William Shakespeare’s play. Through its dark aesthetic and focus on dialogue, The Tragedy of Macbeth stays true to the feel and language of the actual play, but this also contributes to its flaws. The language in Shakespeare’s play does not translate well to the big screen, as I became lost in the shell of the English language that is used in the movie, which made it hard to understand what the characters were saying until I started reading the subtitles. The bland background also made the movie seem boring at times, especially before Macbeth’s castle was raided and during moments of lengthy dialogue that would most likely be unintelligible to anyone unfamiliar with Macbeth and Shakespeare’s language in general. Due to the black and white nature of the movie, the mood feels dreary throughout, even in moments that should be happier, such as when Malcolm is crowned as king. The combination of confusing language and black and white filming can make The Tragedy of Macbeth feel incomprehensible and drab at times, especially to people unaccustomed to Shakespeare’s writing, but to people who understand the original play, the movie may feel authentic and well-executed. Amazing performances from Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand easily resonated with me, as even though I couldn’t exactly understand what they were saying, I could feel what they were saying. Opinions on this movie may vary, but the award garnering acting and authenticity to the original play make this a good, but not great, movie. Expand
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8
yulloaFeb 7, 2022
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The 2021 movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Joel Coen, does an excellent job of delivering the compelling story through the setting, characters, and added embellishments. However, the movie fails to accurately mimic the play’s speech and language.

When Macbeth, portrayed by Denzel Washington, walks down the bare staircase of his mansion reciting his all too famous soliloquy, speaking of life as meaningless, he seems more sorrowful than careless. In Shakespeare’s play, after facing the death of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth shows indifference, and the soliloquy follows. Given his indifference, his soliloquy about ‘meaningless life’ takes a careless type of tone, rather than the movie’s crestfallen tone. Denzel Washington speaks in a slow, sorrowful voice that strips this original meaning from Shakespeare’s play. When, in the play, Macbeth displays indifference towards his wife’s death, it demonstrates how Macbeth’s mental state has progressively declined since the beginning of the play, which is not translated into the movie.

Furthermore, the actors fail to deliver their lines with an element essential to language, which is accent. Both the original play and the movie adaptation take place in Scotland. However, the actors do not exhibit the accent at all, instead, they carry on with their American accents. Through this choice, it is easy for the audience to forget where the story is taking place. This takes away the opportunity for viewers to draw connections between the history during Shakespeare’s time and the play. When writing Macbeth, Shakespeare was thought to have been appealing to the King of England, James I, who was also James VI of Scotland. Without the Scottish accents, viewers are less likely to draw these interesting historical connections.

The movie also doesn’t represent Lady Macbeth, portrayed by Frances McDormand, as the powerful and commanding character she is at the beginning of the story. She seems passive and only really raises her voice once, which dwindles the obvious sense of power she has over Macbeth in the play. While almost perfect, these many instances of failure to accurately mimic the speech and language of the play bring my rating of Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth down to a B.
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7
Georgeyboy1Feb 11, 2022
Visually stunning with superb cinematography, sound, production design and lighting. A definite must-see in the cinema to fully appreciate the power of the film. Watched 12 January 2022. Rating: 7.5/10
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