“By the pricking of my thumbs,
something wicked this way comes.”
A new film version of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth directed by Joel Coen and starring Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Corey Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, and Harry Melling will be released at the end of the year.
This will be Joel Coen’s first film without partnering with his brother. The Coen brothers have directed many great films in different genres and styles. I’m curious to see how Joel’s directing style and tone translate to Shakespeare. From the few tidbits of trailers I’ve seen, the cinematography looks great – cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel – but photography alone is not what makes a film great.
It will be in theaters on Christmas Day 2021. That seems to be an odd day for this dark play to premiere. (It will be streaming on Apple TV+ on January 14.) But that Christmas date immediately made me think of another recent film based on a classic.
The Green Knight directed by David Lowery came out earlier this year. It stars Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander and Joel Edgerton. This classic, which I read in college, is one of the Arthurian legends. One surviving manuscript from around 1400 has survived. The author is unknown. It was only rediscovered 200 years ago and published for the first time in 1839.
The original Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain who is King Arthur’s nephew. He’s a bit headstrong and takes on a challenge from the Green Knight. He is a huge emerald armored stranger. (In the film, he seems to be green-skinned and more monster than man.) The Green Knight sets forth a challenge. Any knight can take one stroke at him. If he survives, the following year at Christmas the knight must come to the Green Knight and alow him one stroke.
Spoiler alert: Gawain’s beheading of the Green Knight has little effect on him and so Gawain has a year until he will meet his fate.
Gawain’s journey to the Green Knight involves ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers because the Green Knight test men and the journey is more about his character.