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First Look: Denzel Washington’s ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ Trailer Is Finally Here

A closeup of Denzel Washington in the new Macbeth movie.

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”

So the Weird Sisters deliver their prophecy that sets events in motion in the stunning, sinister new trailer for The Tragedy of Macbeth, set to arrive in theaters in December. 

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Directed by Joel Coen (one half of the iconic Coen Brothers), the film stars Denzel Washington as the doomed Macbeth, Bertie Carvel as his closet confidante Banquo and Frances MacDormand as the poisonous (and some would say, poisoned) Lady Macbeth. The stars may glow in this one, but oh, that preview chills. 

Until now, specific details surrounding Coen’s film have been scarce, and the dialogue-less teaser doesn’t deliver many details, but the clip does offer more than enough emotion to create serious buzz about the upcoming movie. For fans of drama, especially the Elizabethan kind, this take on Shakespeare looks like a cold feast. 

Containing only a low, beating bass accompanied by an ominous, snapping step, a brave black and white Macbeth and Banquo emerge from a mysterious fog under a low sun. Three witches, one after another, appear before them like shades in the shrouded in haze.

Shot in a classic 4:3 ratio, the squarer shape elicits a claustrophobic atmosphere for tense scenes. After Macbeth and Banquo’s scene upon the battlefield, where they have delivered to noble victory, for instance, we find the victorious King Duncan ready to greet the noble warrior. Squeezed into the frame, the Scottish king seems to stand ready for a fated and tragic end. 

In a similar vein, the clip follows with Lady Macbeth’s inky silhouette framed by an even more narrow, clouded window, a document afire in her unclean hands. As the almost speechless preview continues, a closeup of Washington’s Macbeth reveals his ongoing corruption, complete with weary gray beard and eyes that have shifted from innocent to covetous.

After a hand reaches for a symbolic abandoned crown (portending Duncan’s regicide), the instigating Lady Macbeth presents her face for the first time, a soulless, defeated glimpse into the wretched web she’s spun for herself. 

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The Tragedy of Macbeth does not resemble previous Coen Brothers work. Notably, this is Joel’s first film directed without his brother Ethan as a co-director. While audiences might find Macbeth absent of the brothers’ expected humor and wit, fortunately he remains a master of the tragedy and blunt dramatic irony that the “Scottish play” is famed for.

The Apple TV Plus and A24 film, premiering at the 59th Annual New York Film Festival on Sept. 24, is slated to be released in theaters on Dec. 25 and on Apple TV Plus a few weeks later on Jan. 14.

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