the tragedy of macbeth black and white

The Tragedy of Macbeth, Joel Coen‘s first movie without brother Ethan, doesn’t have a release date yet, but here’s hoping we can see it this year. As we wait for some sort of release announcement (and a trailer, please?), we now have some news: the film was shot in black-and-white by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel. This is news that will no doubt make some cinephiles (like me, for instance) start watering at the mouth. Let us see this movie, damn it!

Macbeth has been covered on the big screen many times, but that doesn’t make The Tragedy of Macbeth any less exciting. This latest take of the Scottish play comes from Joel Coen, striking out on his own for a change. It also stars Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. And now we know the film is also in black-and-white. In short: how can you not be excited about this?

The news of the black-and-white cinematography comes from costume designer Mary Zophres. Zophres appeared on the Team Deakins podcast (via The Film Stage) and revealed that the film would have black-and-white cinematography courtesy of Bruno Delbonnel. Delbonnel has worked with Coen before on Inside Llewyn Davis and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

The Tragedy of Macbeth is, of course, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the tale of a power-hungry couple who scheme and kill their way to the throne only to have it all blow up in their faces. Washington is Macbeth while McDormand is Lady Macbeth. “I think a very important thing about Joel’s adaptation is that we are not calling it Macbeth,” McDormand said in a previous interview. “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.”

In that same interview, Coen added: “[It can be considered a thriller]. I think that is something that I’ve always sort of felt when watching the play and also something that became more clear and more interesting to me as I was getting into it and doing the adaptation. It’s interesting how Shakespeare sort of pre-figured certain tropes in American thriller and crime literature that were common in the early part of the 20th century.”

Again: all of this sounds great. Now all we need is a release date.

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