First Photo: Joel Coen’s “Tragedy of Macbeth”

Originally published on Dark Horizons by Garth Franklin

The first photo has been released from Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” a new adaptation of the famed William Shakespeare play starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand.

The project has been announced as the opening night film at the 59th New York Film Festival and will premiere there on September 24th. Apple and A24 are handling the film’s regular release.

Bruno Delbonnel serves as cinematographer on the film and the high contrast black-and-white visual here is deliberate, the official synopsis indicating there’s a “inventive visualization” element in play here – dubbing it a work of “stark chiaroscuro” and displaying the “forbidding visual designs” and the same “aspect ratios” (ie. 4:3) as Laurence Olivier’s classic 1940s Shakespeare adaptations.

The project also has the “bloody medieval madness” of Akira Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood” which is still arguably considered the best “Macbeth” screen adaptation to date. Here’s the synopsis:

“An anguished film that stares, mouth agape, at a sorrowful world undone by blind greed and thoughtless ambition. In meticulously world-weary performances, a strikingly inward Denzel Washington is the man who would be king, and an effortlessly Machiavellian Frances McDormand is his Lady, a couple driven to political assassination – and deranged by guilt- after the cunning prognostications of a trio of ‘weird sisters’ (a virtuoso physical inhabitation by Kathryn Hunter).

Coen’s tale of sound and fury is entirely his own – and undoubtedly one for our moment, a frightening depiction of amoral political power-grabbing that, like its hero, ruthlessly barrels ahead into the inferno.”

The film will be theatrically released by A24 followed by a global launch on Apple TV+ though no specific date has yet been set.