Parents' Guide to

The Tragedy of Macbeth

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Stark, violent, and one of the best Shakespeare films ever.

Movie R 2021 105 minutes
The Tragedy of Macbeth Poster Image

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Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 1 parent review

age 15+

Stellar, gripping, fantastical re-telling of 500 year old play

This film is stellar. Much is said about the cinematography because uh yeah! It is quite remarkable, stunning, artsy, refreshing and unique. Is it trying too hard? It is trying very hard and it works! This play is 500 years old so yeah, try hard to make something interesting. Washington offers a command performance. McDormand is believable and memorable, but the screen belongs to Hunter. She dominates and totally effin rules! Love, love, LOVE!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (2 ):

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.

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