Cinema is no stranger to adapting the works of Shakespeare, but it’s still exciting when a filmmaker like Joel Coen attempts to bring their own spin to the Bard’s work. He – working without brother Ethan this time – has Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand starring in The Tragedy Of Macbeth, and the first image featuring the central pair is online.
While we don’t yet know exactly what tweaks the director has made to the text, the announcement about the film making its world premiere on the opening night of this year’s New York Film Festival details that, “Coen’s tale of sound and fury is entirely his own – and undoubtedly one for our moment, a frightening depiction of amoral political power-grabbing that, like its hero, ruthlessly barrels ahead into the inferno.” And beyond any narrative shifts, it’s all shot in a stark chiaroscuro, in a style that echoes “the forbidding visual designs – and aspect ratios – of Laurence Olivier’s classic 1940s Shakespeare adaptations, as well as the bloody medieval madness of Kurosawa’s Throne Of Blood“. So take that as you will (or as you like it).
Shakespeare’s story, of course, finds Macbeth (Washington) and his wife (McDormand) consumed by ambition and lust for power after a prophecy from three witches (here apparently brought to life by one actor, Kathryn Hunter). Brendan Gleeson, Harry Melling, Corey Hawkins and Ralph Ineson are also all in the cast.
“The New York Film Festival is a place where I’ve been watching movies as an audience member and showing them as a filmmaker for almost 50 years,” Coen says in a statement. “It’s a real privilege and a thrill to be opening the Festival this year.” Coen will screw his courage to the sticking place on 24 September, with the film headed out on general release later this year via Apple and A24.