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‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ Trailer: Joel Coen Tackles Shakespeare with Washington, McDormand

Joel Coen combines film noir and Shakespeare in a rare solo outing without brother Ethan.

Denzel Washington, "The Tragedy of Macbeth"

“The Tragedy of Macbeth”

Apple/A24

Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand look to set the screen ablaze in Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” the Oscar winner’s upcoming adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The film marks a rare solo outing for Joel Coen, who is often regarded as one of the greatest American filmmakers, alongside brother Ethan Coen. The duo won the Best Director Oscar for “No Country for Old Men.” While cinephiles wait to see if “Macbeth” is a temporary break for the brothers, the first trailer below suggests Joel can do just fine on his own.

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” is Joel’s follow-up to “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” and pairs Oscar winners Washington and McDormand for the first time on screen together. McDormand is fresh off Oscar wins earlier this year for Best Actress and Best Picture with “Nomadland,” and she could very well find herself with another acting nomination for sinking her teeth into Lady Macbeth. Washington stars in the title role, while Corey Hawkins stars as Macduff. The supporting cast includes Moses Ingram, Brendan Gleeson, Harry Melling, and Ralph Ineson, among others.

“I think a very important thing about Joel’s adaptation is that we are not calling it ‘Macbeth,’” McDormand said in an Instagram Live discussion last year. “We’re calling it ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth,’ which I think is an important distinction. In Joel’s adaptation, we are exploring the age of the characters and in our adaptation the Macbeths are older. Both Denzel and I are older than what is often cast as the Macbeths. We’re postmenopausal, we’re past childbearing age. So that puts a pressure on their ambition to have the crown. I think the most important distinction is that it is their last chance for glory.”

McDormand added that it’s “very important” for her performance that Lady Macbeth never had a child. “But there have been many pregnancies and perhaps children born that have died either in stillbirth or very young,” she said. “I think that it is her personal tragedy that fuels her ambition to give her husband the crown because she has not been able to give him an heir. For me, that is the essence of the character.”

A24 will release “The Tragedy of Macbeth” in theaters December 25. The drama will become available to stream on Apple TV+ beginning January 14, 2022. The movie is opening the New York Film Festival on September 24. Watch the official trailer for the Shakespeare drama in the video below.

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