The Tragedy Of Macbeth

Reviewed by Vaughan Ames

Every director who puts on a Shakespeare play or film must try to make their version special or there would be little point in doing it. Joel Coen (without his brother for the first time) took on Macbeth and his angles were to keep it short and action packed (to make it more accessible to anyone who hadn't seen it before); to have Macbeth and his wife played by older actors to change the emphasis of Macbeth's murder of the King from youthful passion to mature 'this is our last chance' reasoning; and to keep the staging as limited as possible to let us concentrate on the words. All angles worked well for me.

Firstly, the film was only 95 minutes long as Coen had cut out some longer scenes to keep it flowing (just a little too much for me). Denzel Washington (Oscar nominated) as Macbeth and Frances McDormand as his wife both played their roles beautifully and the film was in black and white with virtually no scenery just rolling clouds misting over everything; the scene changes were beautifully played with flying ravens or the sun moving the camera to the next shot. He had even cut the 3 witches back to only one, played magically (and double-jointedly!) by Kathryn Hunter (with the help of lots of ravens). The cinematography and set design were amazing; both are up for Oscars too. A magical evening all round then; I can only wonder where Joel Coen will go next...