Here's How "The Tragedy Of Macbeth" Is Different From The Shakespeare Play

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  • Coen brothers

A24 and Apple TV+ have finally released their new film, The Tragedy of Macbeth, the latest cinematic adaptation of William Shakespeare's legendary play of the same name.

5.The Age of the Macbeths

Lord and Lady Macbeth sitting down, talking to each other, in "The Tragedy of Macbeth" (2021)

One difference about this iteration of the Macbeths is their advanced age, with lead actors Denzel Washington and Francis McDormand both being in their 60s. Coen and McDormand thus chose to acknowledge the latter's inability to bear children through her character, making Lady Macbeth's failure to produce an heir for her husband an important part of their relationship and the destruction thereof. As a result, one line of Shakespeare's dialogue was changed to the past tense to express this aspect of their troubled marriage.

A24/Apple TV+ / Via Apple TV+

4.The Three Witches

The Three Witches standing in front of a puddle of water in "The Tragedy of Macbeth" (2021)

Some of the most iconic characters from Macbeth are the Three Witches who tell Macbeth about his future as king, setting in motion the events of the story. Director Joel Coen presents a unique interpretation of these Weird Sisters (all played by Kathyrn Hunter) through the way one of them contorts their body, invoking the image of Samara from The Ring. Not only that, but they typically take the form of the ravens that so often appeared in the play, acting as a symbol of the characters' impending doom and a fitting addition to the film's gothic horror aesthetic.

A24/Apple TV+ / Via Apple TV+

3.The Third Murderer's Identity

Ross out in a field with his index finger pointed upward in "The Tragedy of Macbeth" (2021)

One of the most highly debated mysteries surrounding Macbeth is the identity of the "Third Murderer," the character who joined in the assassination of Banquo and his son, Fleance. In Coen's adaptation, we see that Ross, Macduff's cousin and a frequent messenger throughout the story, is the Third Murderer. The scene depicting his killing of Banquo and his slow hunt for Fleance through a wheat field is something straight out of a horror movie, effectively conveying the evil behind his actions and those of the Macbeths.

A24/Apple TV+ / Via Apple TV+

2.The Diverse Cast

Macbeth staring up to the sky with his crown on in "The Tragedy of Macbeth" (2021)

Probably the most notable difference between the film and the play is that the role of the Scottish King Macbeth is played by an African American. Not only that, but Macduff, his wife, and their son are played by Black actors.

Coen wasn't the first director to famously do a diverse production of Macbeth, as Citizen Kane director Orson Welles notably adapted and directed the play with an all-black cast back in 1936. But while Welles's version had the story set in Haiti, Coen's adaptation set the story back in Scotland, making the latter's diverse cast all the more remarkable. Nevertheless, when talking about the film's cast, Denzel Washingon said, "in my humble opinion, we ought to be at a place where diversity shouldn't even be mentioned, like it's something special."

A24/Apple TV+ / Via Apple TV+

1.The Death of Macbeth

Macbeth's crown lying on the dirt with someone's foot standing next to it in "The Tragedy of Macbeth" (2021)

The film's climax takes the form of Macbeth's swordfight with Macduff, which holds a unique detail that says a lot about the evil king. After a lengthy battle, Macduff is able to behead his opponent as the latter tries to put his crown back on his head after it fell on the ground. Macbeth's fatal mistake symbolizes how his greed became his downfall, as his lust for the crown blinded his judgment and caused him to turn to evil, ultimately leaving him wide open for Macduff to brutally end both his life and his reign as king.

A24/Apple TV+ / Via Apple TV+

What are your thoughts on this list? Were there any differences in the film that I missed? Please let me know in the comments section below.

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