Denzel Washington stars in a frighteningly good adaptation.

While I sat down to watch a new movie about The tragedy of Macbeth From director Joel Coen, in theaters and now streaming on Apple TV +, I knew I saw Macbeth More than any other Shakespeare play. While the popularity of some of Shakespeare’s works comes and goes in line with changes in cultural taste, over the past 30 years Macbeth Reliably stayed in slot No. 3, the content allowed King Lear And village To get the grand prize. Its enduring popularity and cultural significance have a certain kind of meaning. Macbeth It is among Shakespeare’s most intriguing and effective plays. It can be channeled into any number of well-known genres from supernatural horror to feudal political thriller to avenge tragedy. The chockablock comes with popular stripes. It tells us a tale of ambition, violence, madness, and the limitation of individual will, regardless of our current crisis.

But the enduring popularity of the play is also strange because Macbeth Among Shakespeare’s most hopeless works. At the end of village, a lot of the actors are dead, but we can at least hope that Fortinbras and Horatio can assemble a new, more stable and just nation from the broken pieces that remained after the reign of King Claudius. Macbeth It happens on a wheel that is constantly spinning, from which it is impossible to escape. Despite all of the play’s brutal violence, nothing is accomplished by its end: the play begins with the defeat of the traitor Thein Cawdor and the redistribution of his lands and title, and ends with the defeat of another traitor, Thein Cawdor. Cawdor and another redistribution of lands and titles. in early 17y century name Success It contained more definitions than it does today, in the sense of accomplishing something, as a result of something, the progress of time, and the succession of heirs. Shakespeare, who could not resist a good pun, organized the play around these multiple meanings. Macbeth succeeded in surpassing his wildest imagination by assassinating the king and succeeding him on the throne. But he lacks an heir to succeed him, and his successes turn to ashes in his mouth. Hamlet learns that because life is finite, “preparation is everything.” Macbeth’s great epiphany before his death is that all success means you are next in order to succeed, and the inevitability of death means that life “is a fable / told by an idiot, full of sound and anger, / implying nothing.”

Although it’s tempting to imagine it Macbeth Growing up to be the preeminent playwright of his day and experiencing a midlife crisis, Shakespeare’s despair in the play likely has both political and cultural origins. In the three years prior to MacbethAt Shakespeare’s premiere, he witnessed a plague killing a fifth of London’s population, and he also lived through the Gunpowder Plot, a failed rebellion by religious extremists that nearly destroyed Parliament. Emotionally, these events are all too familiar to us today, but director Joel Coen isn’t interested in finding these kinds of contemporary echoes. As in his previous work with his brother Ethan, Quinn chooses to break out of sharp political commentary to return to one of his favorite themes: the struggle of the individual to exist in a volatile and mysterious world. The tragedy of Macbeth It is a film by a director who inserted the title card “Divine Presence to be Filmed” in a film within a film in Yahya Kaiser! Richard Kind was lamenting the injustices of the universe in A Serious Man.

[Read: How the Plague Ravaged Shakespeare’s World and Inspired His Work]

Joel Coen is part of a generation of filmmakers who – thanks to the licensing of old film libraries for television – have grown up more familiar with cinema than anyone who has ever come before. He’s talked in previous interviews about spending hours with his brother, Ethan, in front of the family’s television in suburban Minneapolis, watching whatever movie is being shown, and learning that all kinds of movies were simply different mediums of expression. His filmography proves it. In the 38 years since his first film, Quinn has directed Western films (True gritAnd There is no country for old menAnd Buster Serges song), a sexual farce (burn after reading), and picaresque (Hey brother, where are you?), the comedy spiral (the Hudsucker AgentAnd unbearable cruelty), realistic period plays (A Serious ManAnd Inside Llewyn Davis), and several film noirs, including my personal vote of his most underrated films, The man who was not there. to MacbethTurning to new genres, he attempted his first classic play, filming it in a German Expressionist style, with black-and-white cinematography, high-contrast chiaroscuro lighting, and sets that eschewed the truth and reflected the subjectivity of the characters.

The results are tight –Macbeth It’s Quinn’s most stiflingly controlled act — but on purpose. Character Destinies Macbeth can not escape. Trapped, their doom declared, which is reflected in the 4:3 aspect ratio that confines the characters in a tight little box and in spaces that never hide their faux pas. Whether indoors or out, environments feel built on an acoustic platform. Instead of any attempt at realism, we get cinematography so sharp and starkly luminous that the spaces have an amazing quality. The walls lack all the decoration. Everything is cut by shadows and shrouded in mist. Scenes move in and out of each other in a slow fade that bleeds environments and people into one another. Watching the movie, you can’t get rid of this feeling Macbeth It takes place in a series of spaces completely inimical to human life, spaces in which joy, love, loyalty, and honor cannot grow. The ground seems to be burning. It is a cultivated land destroyed by war, a land of paranoia and cold bloody power games.

The deliberate laxity of film also solves a major problem of many of Shakespeare’s cinematic adaptations. Shakespeare’s plays were written for very specific spaces and circumstances, and these origins are embedded in the texts themselves and often difficult to shake off. Films that try to force his scripts on a purely cinematic – and often realistic – vocabulary often have the unfortunate side effect of asserting that the script is truly non-cinematic. By basing the film’s images on the most theatrical movements in the history of cinema, The tragedy of Macbeth He takes a fundamental problem in Shakespeare’s adaptation project and turns it into a conscious choice. We are never taken out of the world of film by the play of inherent substance. Instead, we remain imprisoned in him with his characters.

And that is the feeling of being stuck in a world that we don’t fully understand and can’t control The tragedy of Macbeth most interested in it. Of all the versions of the Scottish play I’ve seen, this is by far the scariest, an act of cosmic horror where supernatural beings pursue their own games, rejoicing in their ability to manipulate and destroy humans captured from their web. As witches, Katherine Hunter, a witty figure-changer and Shakespearean expert largely unknown to movie-goers, is truly eccentric, her body twisting around itself, her voice scraping the bottom of her record. By delving into this idea, the film downplays other original themes of the ultimately devastating and hollow nature of ambition. The script omits Macbeth’s speech “to be like this is nothing but to be so safe,” the moment the character realizes he’ll never be satisfied, even though he’s a king. Instead of protesting the world and its fate the way Toshiro Mifune did in Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation, blood throneDenzel Washington plays Macbeth in Much Less Key. Macbeth of Washington is an older man, weary of the world, afraid at every moment of sin and devastation upon him and his wife, and seldom meets the volcanic challenge we expect. As Lady Macbeth, Frances McDormand – who previously played the role on stage – brilliantly traces the arc of a character who began as the instigator of a plot to assassinate the king and rule Scotland, but is gradually cut off by her husband for killing Banquo, then falls into guilt and insanity for what she did. They feel more human than most Macbeths pictures, and are no different from Coen’s beloved Noir movie heroes, who always think they’re one step ahead of everyone else, only to find that they’re two steps behind.

The tragedy of Macbeth It is for people already familiar, perhaps even well versed, in the original play. The interpretive choices the movie makes, which include altering its plot by weaving several parts together in the character of Ross (the amazing Alex Hussell), only read as particularly important if you know what it’s remaking. The actors put aside the telegraph to which audiences were accustomed to performing Shakespeare and presented the lines like almost everyday speech, playing their scenes to their partners rather than the crowd.

What remains in the mind after this version of The tragedy of Macbeth Not specific written renditions or bravura acting moments – though the actors exonerate themselves well – but images and sounds. A smear of blood on Macbeth’s cheek. Circular crows. The fog from which the characters come out. The sinister strings of Carter Burwell’s findings. Dripping and knocking and knocking. These fragments remain, like fragments of a dream, one that you are happy to wake up from but also for a long time to return to, until you can discover what lies deep within.

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