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Macbeth in Joel Coen’s Monochrome Nightmare

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A noir (in the hall for a limited period at Christmas and in streaming from mid-January) entrusted to interpreters of the caliber of Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, with the giants Apple and A24 behind them to anticipate a delicious season of awards. The work about a man who together with his wife plots the murder of the Scottish king takes on an original style.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, under the eyes of Coen, are further in the years than most of the past productions and the choice to shoot in black and white manages to touch subplots that enhance horror elements very similar to Dreyer, including the portrait of each of the three witches (Kathryn Hunter creepily introduces herself to Macbeth with two reflections in a pool of water).

“Many English teachers at school start with Macbeth’s work because they say it attracts 14-year-olds. It’s a scary, dense, disturbing text, full of murders, prophecies, chaos and witches, ”explains Frances McDormand. “When I was in junior high I starred in the sleepwalking scene and a couple of parts with witches. I auditioned a couple of times for Macbeth productions but never really pursued it, until I hit the stage at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. With Joel, Lord and Lady Macbeth have become an elderly couple at the end of their ambitions and not at the beginning. I think it’s a great intuition ”. An adaptation that saw Coen collaborate with theater producer Scott Rudin, canceled from the film’s titles after being overwhelmed by allegations of bullying. Although “the real initiator of this adventure, with my husband Joel in the helm, I think it was me,” continues McDormand.

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“Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene is what led me to choose to be an actress. However, theater is a different medium from cinema, it has its own untranslatable language. The challenges were many ”. Brendan Gleeson has a cameo as the king and Coen imagines a grisly murder scene for him in the foreground. Corey Hawkins is a ferocious Macduff, torn by self-hatred for abandoning his wife and children to the tyrant. Bertie Carvel is Banco; Harry Melling is the young Malcolm, Stephen Root the drunk goalkeeper who throws gags on erectile dysfunction. Coen opted for directing only when he realized that the theatrical drama would remain the heart of the tragedy, instinctively driven by a political-social urgency and from the music of composer Carter Burwell who has nailed the cold-blooded sense of abstraction of the Coen brothers since Blood Simple.

“Joel’s way of conducting the reading sessions among the cast is just that of a theater company,” recalls Denzel Washington. “He made us all sit around the table, the actors took turns and played different parts, swapping them. We have become a real company. This is the food of the soul for an actor: theater that becomes cinema ”.

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