Article by : Sboniso Thombeni
Hollywood’s ‘stage-to-screen’ productions have brought us some of the most innovative and compelling cinematic moments in the last few years. Barry Jenkin’s gifted the industry with Moonlight (2016), which was originally penned for the theatre by Terrel Alvin McCraney. In her first gig after hanging Olivia Pope’s iconic white trench coat, we saw Kerry Washington in both the Broadway and Netflix adaptation of American Son (2018/2019). And now, one half of the Coen brothers, Shakespeare and two Oscar winners are coming together to add to this canon.
The sheer influence and proliferation of Shakespeare’s work in modern culture means that the story of Macbeth is not, by any stretch, one of society’s best kept secrets. In any case, if you don’t know, it is play about a Scottish lord who becomes convinced by a trio of witches that he will become the next King of Scotland. All this while his ambitious wife supports him in his plans of seizing power. With the first image being released in the same black and white style that the film is said to be shot in, Joel Coen’s adaptation sees Denzel Washington as Macbeth with Frances McDormand as the cunning Lady Macbeth.
There are a number of film adaptations of the Macbeth story, however, the clues to the freshness of this one lies in the title: The Tragedy of Macbeth. McDormand revealed that “In Joel’s adaptation, we are exploring the age of the characters and our adaptation the Macbeths are older [,] both Denzel [Washington] and I are older than what is often cast as the Macbeths. We’re postmenopausal, we’re past childbearing age. So that puts a pressure on their ambition to have the crown. I think the most important distinction is that it is their last chance for glory”.
The Tragedy of Macbeth will premiere at this year’s New York Film Festival and is then set to be released on Apple TV by A24 studios.