A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
As complex as the play may seem, it's basically a morality tale about people who didn't make good choices and ultimately pay a price that's more or less equal to their crimes. Power corrupts, and those in power will do anything, regardless of moral implications, to keep it.
Positive Role Models
No positive role models. The two main characters commit murder and frame innocent people to make a grab at power, then continue down the same path. Most other characters are merely victims. Even those who remain standing in the end were forced to get there via violence.
A diverse take on Shakespeare, with a Black leading man and an interracial couple at the center. Macduff, another of the play's most important characters, is Black, as is his family (though they're brutally killed).
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Violence & Scariness
Strong violence. Knives and stabbing. Bloody wounds. Dripping blood, pools of blood. Fighting with swords. Beheading. Women and children killed. Unsettling, scary images.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Minor sexual innuendo.
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Uses of "damn," "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Minor characters appear drunk. Background drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Tragedy of Macbeth is director Joel Coen's adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragic play, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. Masterfully made, diversely cast, and filmed in stark black and white, it's one of the best Shakespeare movies ever made, and it's highly recommended for mature viewers. Violence is the biggest issue, with knives, stabbing, sword fighting, blood, a beheading, and the murder of a woman and children, as well as some spooky imagery involving the witches. Other than that, "damn" and "hell" are used, and there's some fairly innocent Shakespeare-style sexual innuendo. Minor characters appear drunk, and there's some background drinking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Stark and severe, with a level of artistry rarely achieved in movies, this black-and-white tragedy may be the best Macbeth ever made, and it's certainly one of the best-ever Shakespeare adaptations. Director Joel Coen -- working for the first time without his brother Ethan -- covers ground formerly trod by Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, and Roman Polanski and surpasses them all with his expressionistic, intensely vivid The Tragedy of Macbeth. The angles and lines and blades of light displayed on-screen by Coen and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel slash the play down to its most elemental, primal levels. All staginess is gone. It's exhilarating. It's as if the play were always meant to be a movie -- this movie.
Washington is magisterial in the title role, bringing his singular vocal flavor to the dialogue and providing an inner uncoiling as Macbeth loses his way. (Washington had previous Shakespeare experience in Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing.) Sharp and commanding, McDormand might have been born to play Lady Macbeth. Theater veteran Hunter is likewise astonishing as all three witches, coming across like nightmarish praying (or preying) mantises. Even the score by Carter Burwell, whose work is often lush and luxurious, consists of spare, cautionary music that sounds like a death knell. Every element of The Tragedy of Macbeth, from the hard, cold furniture to the swirling crows and drifting fog, is exactly right, but it's a precision that gets to the heart of the tale's dark emotions.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.