By Aisha S
“Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. Not so happy, yet much happier. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.”
Macbeth, a Scottish General, receives a prophecy from the three witches about his future. Macbeth and his wife decide to commit regicide and become the rulers. This classic tale from William Shakespeare includes witchcraft, violence, betrayal, and a solid descent of Macbeth into paranoia and tyranny.
The Tragedy of Macbeth can be righteously compared with Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood as one of the best Shakespeare adaptations.
Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth is the most visually striking monochromatic film to grace our eyes in recent years. It’s dark yet minimal, elegant yet broody. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel does a spellbinding job capturing the cataclysmic atmosphere of the movie. With its 1:37:1 aspect ratio and chiaroscuro lighting technique, every shot feels so meticulously crafted that you simply can’t take your eyes off of the screen. The Tragedy of Macbeth has phenomenal production design, staging, sound design, and lighting.
The casting is unparalleled. The Tragedy of Macbeth is stacked with some of the greatest living actors having both stage and screen experiences. Frances McDormand is fantastic as Lady Macbeth and there are some vigorous acting moments from her in the second half of the film. McDormand not being included in the academy buzz is quite surprising at this point. Two times academy award winner Denzel Washington is good yet flawed in his titular role. There are some scenes where it seems as if he is reading the dialogues on cue. The Tragedy of Macbeth‘s ascendency is further amplified by the phenomenal supporting actors including Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling, Brendan Gleeson, and Bertie Carvel. All of them turn out commendable and dedicated performances.
The most surprising element of this film is the insanely magnetic Kathryn Hunter as The Witches or The Weird Sisters. Hunter’s bizarre and diabolical portrayal of The Witches is easily the most ingenious part of the adaptation. This particular interpretation of The Witches is one of the most idiosyncratic yet unsettling things created in cinema history. Hunter rightfully deserves a supporting actress nomination.
Production designer Stefan Dechant did an exemplary job by carrying out Joel Coen’s exhilarating visions involving German Expressionism. Carter Burwell, who worked with the Coen brothers in No Country for Old Men, Intolerable Cruelty, Fargo, and many other movies composes the score for this classic literature adaptation as well. His work further consolidates the solemnly atmospheric theme of the film.
Joel Coen is an astute filmmaker and a perceptive storyteller. He creates a faithful reproduction of the original work with a minimalistic approach. Coen’s direction and screenplay effortlessly constellate together by recapitulating a haunting version of this story. Coen’s solo directorial outing of the Shakespeare classic is a bona fide masterclass in film-making and stunning imagery.
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a flawless amalgamation of theatre and film. It’s incredible in every technical aspect. The unadulterated Shakespearean dialogues will perplex the audience and undermine their viewing pleasure if they aren’t aware of the medium. However, the film will be remembered as one of the most visceral and poetic adaptations in the future.