The colorless square disappears behind a bright flash, the title WHEN appears strictly in the center, crow clouds plow the sky. A sexless figure in a trapeze cloak splits into three, prophesying a troubled future to the brave commander Macbeth. Artificial smoke flows along the edge of the frame, the pavilion night is dotted with dots of drawn stars, the moon shines like a round spotlight. On the sand behind the figure of Tan of Glamis lies the monochrome silhouette of classic Hollywood.
I would like to continue to describe the “Tragedy of Macbeth” Apple TV scene by scene, disassemble it every minute; something from what they saw, as they used to say, should be printed and hung on the wall. Any review of Joel Coen’s first solo project runs the risk of turning into praises not so much for the director himself, but for the cameraman Bruno Delbonnel and the team of artists: the picture, otherwise you can’t say it, shocks, fascinates, enchants. Kurosawa, Bergman, Orson Welles – the famous black-and-white gurus seem to have not only influenced the film, but personally shared their visionary genius with it. Here he is in deep shadows. Here – in editing through dimming and the work of illuminators. Here – in a slightly defocused optics.
Still, of course, in the texture – although this is, rather, hello to Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”. Totalitarian gigantomania, rectangular blocks of scenery, gaping mouths of arches, oppressive ceilings, expressionist labyrinths of corridors, where every step resounds with deafening echoes, where a drop of royal blood falls on the floor with a loud thud, where every voice involuntarily acquires special, disturbing tones. Sometimes the combination of sight and sound brings the new “Macbeth” very close to something very similar to art-house horror – which, probably, is quite a match for Shakespeare’s most disturbing, most mystical play.
The main question is why did Cohen turn to her now? Suppose, in the paintings of the brothers (one of them – similarly, by the way, b / w – is framed specifically with the fall of Macbeth) there were always enough near-Shakespearean themes, from fatalism to intoxication with power – and yet it was the level of homage, quotations, interpretations. By and large, there is nothing to interpret here: the modern classic of American cinema takes a four-hundred-year-old text and the high style of a classic of English literature in order to meticulously transfer it to TV – no hidden meanings, no hyperlinks, no winks between the lines.
The role of Lady Macbeth went to the author’s wife; It would seem that there is a great temptation to find an autobiographical meta-hint here, but no – we are only shown Frances McDormand at the peak of acting, period. The race of Denzel Washington (also, of course, an outstanding performer) must clearly symbolize something by today’s standards – but the picture probably does not imply any additional political shades; there are only basic Shakespearean ones. Brendan Gleeson taught us to caustic Irish self-irony – but the Scottish King Duncan plays seriously and frowningly. The source material is slightly truncated somewhere, somewhere a little simplified – but everything else is retold exactly as it was.
Actually, does this aesthetic perfection need a stage director with the reputation of a postmodernist mockingbird, if the tasks that he performs are limited to design and formalist ones? It’s true, even Justin Kurzel’s solid craft blockbuster against the background of Cohen’s “Macbeth” looks like a bold fantasy based on motives. On the other hand, it can be assumed that Cohen’s literal film adaptation achieved just such an effect – he set out to cleanse the eternal from the ubiquitous scum of the topical. And here, no doubt, he succeeded.