A new version of Shakespeare's tragedy will be coming soon from the mind of Joel Coen. The first image for this film, The Tragedy of Macbeth, features Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand as the central couple, MacBeth and Lady MacBeth. The image comes alongside the announcement that Coen's film will headline the opening night of the New York Film Festival. It will also be the world premiere of this film. The festival is taking place Sept. 24-Oct. 10 and will feature a hybrid format of in-person, outdoor, and virtual screenings, all while maintaining the latest health and safety protocols.
"The New York Film Festival is a place where I've been watching movies as an audience member and showing them as a filmmaker for almost 50 years," Joel Coen said in an official statement. ""It's a real privilege and a thrill to be opening the Festival this year with 'The Tragedy of Macbeth.'"
The announcement from Film at Lincoln Center (FLC) suggests Coen's interpretation is completely unique and that this "boldly inventive visualization of The Scottish Play is an anguished film that stares, mouth agape, at a sorrowful world undone by blind greed and thoughtless ambition."
In meticulously world-weary performances, a strikingly inward Denzel Washington is the man who would be king, and an effortlessly Machiavellian Frances McDormand is his Lady, a couple driven to political assassination - and deranged by guilt - after the cunning prognostications of a trio of 'weird sisters' (a virtuoso physical inhabitation by Kathryn Hunter). Though it echoes the forbidding visual designs - and aspect ratios - of Laurence Olivier's classic 1940s Shakespeare adaptations, as well as the bloody medieval madness of Kurosawa's 'Throne of Blood,' Coen's tale of sound and fury is entirely his own - and undoubtedly one for our moment, a frightening depiction of amoral political power-grabbing that, like its hero, ruthlessly barrels ahead into the inferno."
In addition to Frances McDormand, Washington, and Hunter, the cast is also joined by Harry Melling, Brendan Gleeson, Corey Hawkins, and Ralph Ineson. This description suggests the new film will follow the events of MacBeth, but will also have Coen's unique vision.
Eugene Hernandez, Director of the NYFF, said in a statement: "We can't wait to welcome New York Film Festival audiences back to Lincoln Center this fall, and what a way to do that! With Joel Coen, Frances McDormand, Denzel Washington, and our friends at Apple and A24 on Opening Night at Alice Tully Hall, we're setting the stage for a momentous return to our roots. Last year was a deeply meaningful edition of NYFF; our Festival traveled to Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and around the country via our Virtual Cinema. This year we're back in our Upper West Side home, but you'll also find us exploring new venues and ways to connect with moviegoers in person, outdoors, and online - stay tuned!"
Passes to the festival are now available with Early Bird pricing through July 30. After that, tickets will go on sale for the general public on Tuesday, Sept. 7. As for The Tragedy of MacBeth, it is expected to hit theaters sometime later this year after its world premiere at NYFF, but no official release date is confirmed.