A brief new teaser for The Tragedy of Macbeth teases the haunting cinematic experience to come, as Denzel Washington asks “Whence is that knocking?” Academy Award winner Denzel Washington unties with fellow Academy Award winner Frances McDormand for this adaptation of one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays, which features another Academy Award winner, Joel Coen, at the helm.
As demonstrated by this footage, and the footage released before it, The Tragedy of Macbeth looks like a truly stunning take on The Bard, which will put Denzel Washington front-and-centre amid an eerie and otherworldly depiction of medieval Scotland.
The Tragedy of Macbeth will adapt the beloved work of William Shakespeare in stark black-and-white. The project is written and directed by one half of The Coen Brothers, Joel Coen, who is flying solo without his brother and frequent collaborator Ethan. The Tragedy of Macbeth follows a Scottish lord who becomes convinced by a trio of witches that it is his destiny to become the king of Scotland. With the help of his dangerously ambitious wife, Macbeth goes to extreme, increasingly violent lengths to seize the crown and claim what he believes to be his rightful place as king.
“In meticulously world-weary performances, a strikingly inward Denzel Washington is the man who would be king, and an effortlessly Machiavellian Frances McDormand is his Lady, a couple driven to political assassination – and deranged by guilt – after the cunning prognostications of a trio of ‘weird sisters’ (a virtuoso physical inhabitation by Kathryn Hunter),” reads the New York Film Festival’s announcement of the movie. “Though it 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,’ 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.”
The obvious quality of what’s to come is cemented by its leads, with Hollywood icon and Academy Award winner Denzel Washington on board as the titular Macbeth alongside Academy Award winner and Nomadland star Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth. Alongside these acting heavy-hitters, The Tragedy of Macbeth stars In Bruges’ Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan, Straight Outta Compton star Corey Hawkins as Macduff, The Legend of Buster Scruggs alum Harry Melling as Malcolm, and The Queen’s Gambit star Moses Ingram as Lady Macduff.
Director Joel Coen has previously offered some insight into his aspirations for The Tragedy of Macbeth, with the celebrated filmmaker hoping to craft a “boldly inventive visualization of The Scottish Play,” which will result in “an anguished film that stares, mouth agape, at a sorrowful world undone by blind greed and thoughtless ambition.”
The Tragedy of Macbeth had its world premiere at the 2021 New York Film Festival on September 24, 2021, and is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on December 25, 2021 by A24 prior to streaming on Apple TV+ on January 14, 2022. The movie has been met with unrelenting critical acclaim so far, and currently sits at a magnificently fresh 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.