The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021 film)
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a 2021 American drama film written and directed by Joel Coen and based on the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare. It is the first film directed by one of the Coen brothers without the other's involvement. The film stars Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand (who also produced the film), Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling, and Brendan Gleeson.
It had its world premiere at the 2021 New York Film Festival on September 24, 2021. It is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on December 25, 2021 by A24 prior to streaming on Apple TV+ on January 14, 2022. The film received critical acclaim, with major praise for Coen's screenplay and direction, performances of the cast (particularly of Washington's), and its cinematography.
After being convinced by three witches, a Scottish Lord sets out to become the King of Scotland.
- Denzel Washington as Lord Macbeth
- Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth
- Corey Hawkins as Macduff
- Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan
- Harry Melling as Malcolm
- Bertie Carvel as Banquo
- Alex Hassell as Ross
- Kathryn Hunter as the witches
- Moses Ingram as Lady Macduff
- Ralph Ineson as The Captain
- Sean Patrick Thomas as Monteith
- Stephen Root as The Porter
- Brian Thompson as Young Murderer
- Richard Short as Siward
It was announced in March 2019 that Joel Coen, in a rare solo effort, was set to write and direct a new take on the William Shakespeare play. Scott Rudin was originally set to produce, and A24 would distribute.
Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand were set to star in the film. In November, Brendan Gleeson and Corey Hawkins entered negotiations to join the cast. Both were confirmed in January 2020, along with the addition of Moses Ingram, Harry Melling and Ralph Ineson to the cast.
Entertainment Weekly identified the cinematographer as Bruno Delbonnel (previously filmed Darkest Hour and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs) stating that he "frames his shots like a modern-day Fritz Lang, composed for maximum disorienting impact and scale." Filming began in Los Angeles on February 7, 2020. To give the film a look "untethered from reality", it was shot entirely on sound stages. In April, Coen announced that the film will officially be titled The Tragedy of Macbeth. It was announced on March 26, 2020, that filming had been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Production resumed on July 23, 2020, and concluded on July 31, 2020. The film was shot in black-and-white. In April 2021, Rudin stepped down as producer following allegations of abuse.
Leah Greenblatt writing for Entertainment Weekly spoke of the set designer Stefan Dechant (previously designed set for Alice in Wonderland) as someone "who sets the idea of Sir William's traditional Scottish moors against a kind of surreal Calvinist dream world of screaming birds and sharp geometries."
Costume design was done by Mary Zophres and were described by Entertainment Weekly as "fantastic: wools and grommets and leather stitched meticulously together in a mode maybe best described as Luxe Monastic.
The film's score is being composed by Carter Burwell, the Coen brothers' longtime collaborator. Regarding Joel directing alone without Ethan, Burwell stated, "Ethan didn't want to make movies anymore. He seems to be happy with what he's just doing. They both have tons of unproduced scripts sitting on shelves, but I don't know what Joel will do without him."
The film will be theatrically released by A24 followed by global launch on Apple TV+. It had its world premiere at the 2021 New York Film Festival on September 24, 2021. It is scheduled to be released in a limited release on December 25, 2021, prior to streaming on Apple TV+ on January 14, 2022. It is also set to close the London Film Festival.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 98% based on 49 reviews, with an average rating of 8.70/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Led by a stellar Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth strips the classic story down to its visual and narrative essentials." Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 89 out of 100 based on 19 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film a score of 5/5 stars, writing: "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." Alison Willmore of Vulture wrote: "While The Tragedy of Macbeth is Joel Coen’s first solo directing effort … that aspect of their long collaboration remains steady. Macbeth becomes, like so many of the Coens’ protagonists, a character trapped in his own fixations and failings, the concave world onscreen a reflection of the self he can’t escape." Dave Calhoun of Time Out gave the film a score of 5/5 stars and wrote that it was "stage-bound in all the right ways, reminiscent of a much earlier cinema, when filmmakers barely stepped outdoors and wielded magic with shadow and light on soundstages. It’s short, sharp and savage." Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph gave the film a score of 5/5 stars, writing that it "has simmered its source text long and low, leeching every last drop of pungency and savour from the carcass", and added that it "resonates with the ancient power of a ritual."