The Tragedy of Macbeth

Reviews of Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand have been rapturous. It currently has a 93% “fresh” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and has been earning awards-season buzz for its performances and cinematography. The New York Review of Books offers one of the most insightful commentaries on the film, titled “Shakespeare Noir,” highlighting the Shakespearean dimensions of the Coen Brothers earlier work. In a way, the review suggests, a confrontation with the Bard was inevitable for filmmakers so consumed by questions of power, revenge, guilt, ambition, and the dizzying possibilities of poetic language. 

LitHub’s Best of 90s Shakespeare

The 1990s was a boom decade for screen adaptations of Shakespeare. Spurred by the surprise critical and box-office success of Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 Henry V, the 90s offered everything from Branagh’s own faithful, 4-hour version of Hamlet (1996) to the cheeky and charming 10 Things I Hate About You, a modern update of Taming of the Shrew that introduced the world to the talented, star-cross’d Heath Ledger.  

Emily Temple at LitHub assembled a ranked list of the Best 90s Screen Adaptations of Shakespeare. Here’s the list below sans commentary, but check out the link for Temple’s observations plus excerpts from reviews by contemporary critics. 

12. Let the Devil Wear Black, dir. Stacey Title (1999)

11. Hamlet, dir. Franco Zeffirelli (1990)

10. Othello, dir. Oliver Parker (1995)

9. O., dir. Tim Blake Nelson (2001)

8. Titus, dir. Julie Taymor (1999)

7. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, dir. Michael Hoffman (1999)

6. Twelfth Night, dir. Trevor Nunn (1996)

5. Much Ado About Nothing, dir. Kenneth Branagh (1993)

4. 10 Things I Hate About You, dir. Gil Junger (1999)

3. Richard III, dir. Richard Loncraine (1995)

2. Romeo + Juliet, dir. Baz Luhrmann (1996)

1. Hamlet, dir. Kenneth Branagh (1996)

The Guardian Ranks 20 Best Shakespeare Adaptations

Last year The Guardian offered a welcome global perspective for its “Top 20” movie adaptations of William Shakespeare plays. The “usual suspects” were well represented – Laurence Olivier’s Richard III (1955), Orson Welles’s Chimes at Midnight (1966), Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing (1993), and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo  + Juliet (1996), for example. But the list also featured an impressively international roster: Bollywood versions of The Comedy of Errors (Angoor, 1982) and Macbeth (Maqbool, 2003); Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa’s loose adaptations of Hamlet (The Bad Sleep Well, 1960) and Macbeth (Throne of Blood, 1957); a controversial staging of Othello in South Africa (1989); an appropriately Danish, silent-film Hamlet (1921); and Russian versions of King Lear (1971) and Hamlet (1964). Here’s a link to the article and the full list below:  

20. As You Like It (1992, dir. Christine Edzard)

19. Julius Caesar (1953, dir. Joseph L.

18. Twelfth Night (1996, dir. Trevor Nunn)

17. Angoor (1982, dir. Gulzar)

16. Titus (1999, dir. Julie Taymor)

15. Othello (1989, dir. Janet Suzman)

14. The Bad Sleep Well (1960, dir. Akira

13. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935, dir. Max

12. Much Ado About Nothing (1993, dir. Kenneth

11. King Lear (1971, dir. Grigori Kozintsev)

10. Romeo + Juliet (1996, dir. Baz Luhrmann)

9. Hamlet (1921, dir. Svend
Gade and Heinz Schal)

8. The Tempest (1979, dir. Derek Jarman)

7. Richard III (1955, dir. Laurence Olivier)

6. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999, dir. Gil Junger)

5. King Lear (1971, dir. Peter Brook)

4. Maqbool (2003, dir. Vishal Bhardwaj)

3. Chimes at Midnight (1966, dir. Orson Welles)

2. Hamlet (1964, dir. Grigori Kozintsev)

1. Throne of Blood (1957, dir. Akira Kurosawa) 

Copyright © All rights reserved.
Using Format