Most of my exposure to the works of Shakespeare comes from volunteering at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. I did it more for the atmosphere than the productions, because Shakespeare never really appealed to me. But seeing Shakespeare done by Director Joel Coen, in The Tragedy of MacBeth, was an entirely different deal. It felt in many ways like a stage play, but it’s a different, more immersive Shakespeare experience, and a wonderful way to experience his works. It may very well be the film that brings Shakespeare to the masses.
In The Tragedy of MacBeth Denzel Washington plays MacBeth, and Frances McDormand is Lady MacBeth. The plot has MacBeth en route to become the next king of Scotland with his ambitious wife, Lady MacBeth, along to assist him. But there are murders, traitors, and henchmen along the way, and many two-faced individuals who despise both MacBeth and Lady MacBeth. With frequent pontifications by Washington and the dramatic irony of McDormand’s performance comes a rollercoaster film that is one for the ages.
The Tragedy of MacBeth was shot entirely in a studio and was filmed in black and white. It is probably one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve seen. The film is truly spellbinding on many levels, and it grows darker and more intriguing as the film progresses.
This film was really done by the right director. It’s been my experiences that Shakespeare productions can drag at times, but not with Joel Coen in charge. I loved the unstoppable performances of Washington and McDormand, as well. Putting them together brings a rollicking Shakespearean world of anarchy and power. I hope this one gets a decent amount of Oscar buzz, and it is not to be missed. Four stars for The Tragedy of MacBeth.