Our Thoughts On: The Tragedy of Macbeth

It’s Shakespeare in a Kim-and-Kanye-designed Brutalist mansion.

By The Film Team



A spooky rendition of Shakespeare’s spookiest play, set in an extraordinary, stark, Kim-and-Kanye-designed Brutalist mansion. Denzel Washington’s Macbeth didn’t really do it for me most of the time because he didn’t seem that…stressed? But Kathryn Hunter completely steals the show as the contortionist witch(es) pulling all the strings and I’d gladly have watched her play every role.


Let me preface this by saying that my only experience with Shakespeare is speed-reading Hamlet in the eleventh grade and watching the films 10 Things I Hate About You and Gnomeo & Juliet. That's to say, I am not familiar with Shakespearean English. Yes, I had to Google what actually happened afterwards, but thankfully Joel Coen's vision kept me engaged for the entire time. Each scene in the castle felt considered, carefully blocked to create the most intense light and shadows. So while I might not be able to give a play-by-play of the narrative, the brilliant production design and cinematography certainly left a mark.


Okay, I was destined to find things wrong with this adaptation. As a Macbeth-obsessed theater maker actively grappling with my own adaptation, it is incredibly difficult to ignore the blatant and confusing cuts from the original script in The Tragedy of Macbeth. I understand it is a film and no one actually wants to watch a three-hour long, full-length film of Macbeth, but I believe that there are better ways to do it that don’t take away from the story’s momentum. Because of this stagnancy, Denzel and Frances deliver uninspired, passionless performances as my favorite Shakespearan couple. Despite all of this, I think Joel Cohen built a beautiful visual world that, at times, actually took my breath away—for example, the first time Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches. And speaking of the witches, Kathryn Hunter needs an Oscar and a fucking pat on the back for her jaw-dropping performance.


1. Shakespeare in 90 minutes is the future
2. Kathryn Hunter’s physical work deserves an Oscar
3. Looks like a Macbook Pro

Watch The Tragedy of Macbeth here or get tickets here.