A Soliloquy — The Tragedy of Macbeth

William J Hammon
3 min readDec 31, 2021


Tis a tale oft told, that makers hath rolled,
One twelfth of a gross, through celluloid’s Globe,
By Welles and Roman, nearly of Laurence,
Now a Coen alone doth enter the fray.
To speak evermore of the killer Thane,
Who’s play is too superstitious to name,
The Tragedy of Macbeth goes to screen.
But what more can be said? What news? What art?
Nay, what worth is there for Joel to impart?
Shade and fog, moor and bog, pillars of light,
All frame great fears and deep paranoia,
That the best of fools deliver for all.

On stages appointed to be Spartan,
With neither room for shields, nor fine tartans,
We are left bare as the day we emerged,
From the womb to bear witness to players,
Stripped of all comfort, their emotions raw,
Naught but a lens ‘tween jury and accused.
But the quartered wall stays fully intact,
The speeches and protestations left to,
One another, not the knave in the back,
Precisely as it was and e’er should be.

A man of great honor, played by Denzel,
Wanders and wends to his own private Hell.
Gleeson, as Duncan, welcomes trusted friends,
Gives titles and deeds for heroic ones,
But saves the greatest of all for his son,
Young Malcolm, who knows both the score and script,
As the former Dursley read them himself,
In a Coen Ballad, though lacking limbs.
And while the plot has no color at all,
One feels a green hue upon Macbeth’s maw.
Murder most foul will become his due course,
Thanks to his loathing wife, intents quite hoarse.
From House McDormand the Lady descends,
With poisoned tongue and ambition unchecked,
To goad valor to treason in fell swoop,
And a cursed blade into a king’s neck.

But the deed itself is not where this shines,
Nor in able deliv’ry of great lines.
It’s in stoic simplicity that we,
Become voyeurs to the extraordin’ry.
For while Coen adapts from the great Bard,
He too invokes the Ravenous Poet,
And the Master of all deemed Suspenseful.
The torment of birds, a murder of crows,
Sisters made Weird in one, and then in three,
Through clever tricks for the eyes and the ears,
As Kathryn Hunter defies the very,
Nature of her bodily alignment.

The breaking of a new day’s dawn cannot,
Grant relief or a form of salvation,
As light itself is wicked illusion,
Shadows creeping show us faces aging,
And the din of thunderous hooves spell doom,
Long before Macbeth meets his foretold end.
Corey Hawkins leaves Compton via Fife,
To halt Macbeth’s madness by sword or knife.
In the frame is binary black and white,
And no shades of grey are easily found.
The twelve square picture, with angular forms,
Twist themselves into a claustrophobic,
Puzzle that Theseus could not escape.
The very stage is judging his misdeeds.

With all this symbol, can this be perfect?
If only the Fates could smile so kindly.
Tis much affection afforded I’ll grant,
But not enough for the true pantheon.
There are spotlights, clicks, and camera sounds,
Leaving confusion as to “real” or “reel.”
Much is relied on past knowledge and lore,
To know Ross’ part, or Banquo’s before.
Both Hassell and Carvel do diligent,
But too much mystery is revealed in,
Their respective countenances at times.
Perhaps this is because of Washington,
Commanding each scene as a general,
Yet the conundrum remains e’er unsolved.

On balance, this is a triumph of film,
Of theatre, sound, and literary art.
The techniques at play would astound the Gods,
And magic surrounds the bare bones design.
There is much to laud, beginning to end,
Even when the desire for clarity,
Threatens to overtake the spectacle.
But still, one brother takes on full measure,
And gives the world a classical treasure.

Grade: A-

Join the conversation in the comments below! What film should I review next? What are your favorite Shakespearean adaptations? Was reading this enjoyable, or did I just come off like a huge dork? Let me know!

Originally published at http://actuallypaid.com on December 31, 2021.



William J Hammon

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