What to watch in streaming – “Macbeth” returned to the screen directed by one of the Coen brothers and shows 400 years later that power continues to corrupt

William Shakespeare has never ceased to be current. His texts have as central elements basic feelings of human beings, such as greed in the Merchant of Venice, the madness in Hamlet or forbidden love in Romeo and Juliet. What changes is the context in which the emotions are developed, but the substance and the form are timeless. The same thing happens with a work that, despite being presented for the first time in 1606, has had various replicas both in the seventh art and on stage. Is about Macbeth and now, who takes the baton, is Joel Coen.

The filmmaker’s first solo film, co-director with his brother Ethan of feature films as iconic as Fargo (1996) or the big lebowski (1998), opened in select theaters this Wednesday, January 12, and on Apple TV+ today, just two days later. And it does so with a star cast, with Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington as Lady and Lord Macbeth in an adaptation that seeks to be faithful to the play while enriching it with cinematographic elements. It is a symbiosis between two arts, cinema and theater, which dialogues perfectly between its parts.

Joel Coen’s main concern, as he told The Guardian in an interview, was to make a Macbeth for all audiences, even for those who are not fans of the work. “I wanted to make Shakespeare for people who don’t want to see Shakespeare, or who might even be intimidated by him. But I wanted to preserve the power of the text, because that’s where its essence is,” said the filmmaker, who has reduced the lines of dialogue of the original story but with care not to alter its identity.

Hence, the story has not undergone major changes. It goes on to tell of the fall into hell of Macbeth who, after returning victorious from a battle, meets three witches who predict his future: he will be named Lord of Cawdor and later King of Scotland. Moved by this idea, Lady Macbeth encourages her husband to assassinate the current monarch to speed up the course of events and occupy the throne. One wonders if the sorceresses really predict or cause the events, but what seemed like a seamless plan ends up giving rise to arrogance, tyranny and guilt. Not only to get the crown, but also to perpetuate it.

Shakespeare reflected the psychological effects of a type of ambition, politics, applicable to other contemporary ambitions, such as work or social. The English playwright describes the relationship with his sovereign, James I, but he really points the finger at all those who have no qualms about trampling on their peers in order to get a personal income that will be collected back. A universal theme that even enthralled Akira Kurosawa to make throne of blood (1957), a Macbeth transferred to feudal Japan.

But being faithful to history does not mean keeping it intact, and Joel Coen has allowed himself the license to make a small change that would explain the mystery of the absence of the children of the Macbeths. “This is a Macbeth postmenopausal […] they are an older couple, beyond childbearing age. Time, mortality and the future are vital issues,” the director told the British newspaper.

Coen’s Macbeths move away from the romantic archetype featured in other film adaptations, such as Justin Kurzel’s with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. The marriage presented here is a withered one in which there is no unbridled desire, but rather greed for a reign that they believe will serve to fill the empty holes in their lives.

The couple goes through different emotional states derived from the process of achieving an end at all costs: initial pettiness, subsequent regret and madness. A series of records in which McDormand and Washington show off all their attributes as veteran performers. There is a tension between them. in crescendo present both in the contained dialogues and in those in which rage is unleashed. Only the staging of both creates a presence that would hardly have been possible with other actors.

That same tension is emphasized from the technical point of view. In the sound section there are frequent shock effects, such as footsteps, the ticking of a clock about to finish its countdown or someone repeatedly knocking on the door. The aural din grows louder in the Macbeths’ heads, as does the guilt for their crimes. This harassment is supported by the film format itself, in 4:3 instead of the traditional panoramic. This reduces the viewer’s field of vision, increasing the feeling of being locked in a place with no way out.

But, without a doubt, another point in which this adaptation shines is in the photography of Bruno Delbonnel, who was also in charge of other films by the Coens such as The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) or About Llewyn Davis (2013). The choice of black and white reinforces a narrative that speaks precisely of that, of the chiaroscuro of humanity. Hence, in some scenes Washington’s face is completely in shadow: because his face does not matter, it is a mask behind which he hides his gloomy ideas. It’s the same thing that happens in Citizen Kane (1941) when the journalist reads his declaration of principles for “an honest newspaper that gives the news with fidelity and accuracy”. A proclamation of intentions that, for both Orson Welles and Shakespeare, is cut short for the same reason: the desire for power.


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Helen Hernandez is our best writer. Helen writes about social news and celebrity gossip. She loves watching movies since childhood. Email: Helen@oicanadian.com Phone : +1 281-333-2229

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