It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the most adaptable work of fiction in history. The one and only Orson Welles took a stab at the play in 1948 and churned out an understated masterpiece, as did Roman Polanski in 1971. In 2015, Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth saw generally positive reviews, with Michael Fassbender giving a killer performance as its lead. Looser adaptations have been similarly praised; some might even go so far as to say that Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood is the best Shakespeare adaptation in the history of Shakespeare adaptations.
But despite its bulk of adaptations, it’s safe to say that Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth will be nothing like anything we’ve seen before. Coen’s dark, comical, and idiosyncratic style, as seen in films like The Big Lebowski (1998), A Serious Man (2009) and Hail, Caesar! (2016), is so particular that you could spot his work anywhere. Given that, the film likely won’t be a word-for-word adaptation of the play, and we’re totally cool with that. Coen is bound to bring something utterly unique to this beloved story. Plus, we know that he’s got a knack for putting a fresh twist on classic tales, with O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) turning out to be one of the best modern adaptations of The Odyssey.
Given that this will also be the first solo project from Joel Coen, it is worth wondering if it will feel any different from their previous work. But with Denzel Washington starring as Macbeth and Frances McDormand playing Lady Macbeth, there’s no way this one isn’t going to hit the mark.
The first trailer for The Tragedy of Macbeth doesn’t show us much, but what it does is enough to have us counting down the days until we get to see it in theaters. We’ve got the iconic trio of witches shrouded in a spooky layer of fog. We’ve got Macbeth suited up like he’s ready for action. And, of course, we’ve got Lady Macbeth looking like she might be up to something. (Spoiler alert, she totally is).
Check out the teaser here:
The Tragedy of Macbeth hits theaters on December 25, then Apple TV+ on January 14.