For the first time in the extensive filmmaking career of Joel Coen, the revered director made a feature film without his brother, Ethan. It came as a shock to many when it was announced that Joel was going ahead with a brand new project called The Tragedy of Macbeth without the partnership of his brother, with many wondering what such a film would shape up to be.
Although the Shakespearean tragedy has been interpreted in various ways and reworked countless times over the course of centuries, Joel Coen set out to make the greatest Macbeth film adaptation in the history of cinema. After its premiere at the New York Film Festival earlier this year, many critics are convinced that Coen has been successful.
In a recent interview, Joel spoke about the experience of working alone on such a huge project and the consequences there were due to his brother’s absence. “I spent 40 years looking over at Ethan after each shot or looking at him if there was a problem. And, so, I missed him because that wasn’t there,” Joel revealed.
The Tragedy of Macbeth boasts of a stellar cast, starring Denzel Washington as Macbeth with Frances McDormand stepping in to play the iconic role of Lady Macbeth which has been handled by some of the greatest actresses in history before her. Despite the fact that this was Joel Coen’s first solo effort, critics insisted that the influence of his lifelong collaboration with his brother remained evident.
According to Joel, the challenge was to create a film that was appropriately stunning for the visual medium as well as literary in its psychological investigations. “The ambition was to do it very much as a movie in terms of embracing what the medium gives you stylistically and psychologically and formally, but trying not to lose the essence of the play-ness of the piece of literature,” the filmmaker said.
Watch the new trailer for The Tragedy of Macbeth below.