“The Tragedy of Macbeth” Review

The Tragedy of Macbeth Review

Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, starring Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, and Harry Melling, and based on the play by William Shakespeare, is a movie for those that are sick of happy endings. It’s an intriguing take on an old but no less powerful story, with a diverse and brilliant cast, and worth a watch on the big screen.

“Macbeth”is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, yet one of his most brutal. It tells the tale of an honorable Scottish general quickly corrupted by witches’ prophecy into killing the king and taking his place – and his descent into madness, lashing out to stop his inevitable death as laid out by the prophecy. 

What I loved most about the movie is the way it begins and ends, with ravens circling and then flying away, representing the witches corrupting a moreover content Scotland, then moving on. It’s almost as if they never arrived, looking out at the moors. I also loved how Macbeth (Denzel Washington) entered the screen, and how you could immediately see the honesty and likability of his demeanor, and his slow and painful descent into madness. He becomes what he fears, and once that happens the momentum is too strong for him to stop. You achingly go down with him. Scotland is presented as too good to be true, with a strong and caring king (Brendan Gleeson) and good men beside him, therefore the witches seem to come to balance it out into a more human place, for better or worse. I loved how the next King Malcolm (Harry Melling) seems uncaring and not fit for leadership, which leaves you with quite a sour taste in your mouth. 

This is not an easy or comfortable movie to watch or digest. As we’d say in my family, ‘it’s a weekend movie.’ That makes it a difficult movie to recommend, because of the darkness in just the time we live in right now. But nevertheless, here I sit. Overall, I don’t really have anything bad to say about this movie, besides the fact that I could see it being not accessible to the casual viewer because of its brutality and complicated language. Joel Coen adapts the play with undeniable craftsmanship, and his differences from the play are intelligent enough to seem almost Shakespearean.