“A drum, a drum! Macbeth has come.”
Next to Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth is one of the most popular William Shakespeare plays. Much like the former, Macbeth is a tragedy and its combination of resonate themes, haunting imagery and memorable characters makes it a really endearing story that’s helped it stand the test of time.
Written and Directed by Joel Coen, AppleTV’s newest feature is a real tour de force when it comes to acting and cinematography. The story itself is largely the same as the original play, shot exclusively in black and white to give this a real noir feel.
The minimalist sets, the slowly fading scenes and the character performances all lend themselves to feeling more like a theatre production than a movie.
That’s not a bad thing though, and with Frances McDormand playing Lady Macbeth, Denzel Washington as Macbeth, Harry Melling as Malcolm and Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan, there are some big names here given the chance to really flex their acting prowess. Washington in particular is excellent in his lead role, with just the right amount of flair, maniacal, haunting looks and sudden outbursts.
Another worth noting though is the understated brilliance of Kathryn Hunter, who brings the witches to life with an eerie, otherworldly essence that’s hard to describe. The opening scenes featuring her physically distorted figure and eerie dialogue is nothing short of perfection and it sets a high foundation that allows the rest of the film to soar.
For those who need a quick reminder of the story, Macbeth centers on a Scottish lord called Macbeth who’s convinced by a trio of witches that he’ll become the next King of Scotland. Alongside his ambitious wife Lady Macbeth, the pair set to work making that a reality, launching a bloody campaign that eventually sees Macbeth face the consequences of his actions.
While you could go into this not knowing much about the story, those who do will really appreciate the way The Tragedy of Macbeth embraces its source material. I mentioned the minimalist sets earlier, and honestly, it really helps this movie feel like a love letter to the original play.
I would recommend going into this one with subtitles though, especially given the archaic language Shakespeare is well known for, as well as a few quiet scenes. Beyond these minor gripes though, The Tragedy Of Macbeth is artistic, well-paced and absolutely enthralling. This one’s easily an early contender for film of the year.
The Tragedy Of Macbeth releases on AppleTV+ on 14th January 2022!
Verdict - 9/10