‘The Tragedy Of Macbeth’ is the first solo directorial effort by Joel Coen. I believe this is the first time Macbeth has been played by an African-American (Denzel Washington), but it is not a token casting, several other roles are also played by Black actors. Washington was also cast in a previous Shakespeare film, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Clearly Black actors are no longer limited to playing Othello. On the other hand, this is just be a very small sample.
Unfortunately, I found the production not up to other Shakespeare films. The dialogue was delivered in a theatrical rather than a realistic style (for the latter, see Ian McKellen’s ‘Richard III’) and the result was that the meaning was not always clear. In fairness, I should say that I have seen many of the film and television versions and none really stand up to some of the Bard’s other plays. Then again, ‘Macbeth’ is the shortest of his tragedies and the fourth-shortest of his plays.
I will commend the striking set design by production designer Stefan Dechant, art director Jason T. Clark and set decorator Nancy Haigh. Filmed entirely on sound stages, except for the final scene, it reminds one of the set design in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s ‘The Passion Of Joan Of Arc’ and Kathryn Hunter as all three witches was spectacular.
Released theatrically 12/25/21; available streaming on Apple TV+.
Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.