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Age and race no factor for Denzel Washington's Macbeth

26 Comments
By Andrew MARSZAL

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And this new inclusiveness will the open the door for white actors to play leading roles in the legendary tales of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Just kidding.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

I read an interview with Denzel which really sparked my interest in this film. Depth, insight, faithfulness to the text, committed director and actors, one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. I’ll be watching it.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

One of Danzel first movies was Carbon Copy

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How many times are they still gonna milk this macbeth story? Does hollywood have no originality anymore? And if it's another singing movie, they can forget about anyone watching it.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Hito:

No, I don’t think there’s any singing in Macbeth. You may have hit on something there, though, I’d pitch that idea to an agent ASAP.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sorry, HiRo. Damned autocorrect.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

BigYenToday  07:08 am JST

I read an interview with Denzel which really sparked my interest in this film. Depth, insight, faithfulness to the text, committed director and actors, one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. I’ll be watching it.

Denzel Washington is a good actor. not every movie he's been is good but a good actor doesn't always a good film make. Nevertheless, Shakespearean plays generally have a motive or story underlying that really transcends race/culture/language barriers. That's why his plays are performed thruout the world. James Earl Jones is Black and he acted in Shakespeare plays, so has the ethnic Japanese-American George Takei. These plays can be performed in so many ways with various people of every kind and even with different settings.

I once saw 'Titus Andronicus' where the setting wasn't the Roman Empire but a late 20th century fascist dictatorship where the regime thugs were dressed in punk fashion. And after Moammar Qaddafy was overthrown and killed in the 2011 Libya War, our local VA gave an interpretation of 'Macbeth' based on his regime. Very appropriate since Qaddafy was an actual 'Macbeth' himself but not in 12th century Scotland. And there's been other 'Macbeth's thruout history in every continent by people of all three major races/categories.

JeffLeeToday  07:01 am JST

And this new inclusiveness will the open the door for white actors to play leading roles in the legendary tales of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Just kidding.

That's been done already. There's been plenty of movies, esp. the old ones where whites have portrayed such roles, such as Alladin and Ali Baba from the 'Arabian Nights' stories, white actors playing India characters, Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra, Yuell Brynner portraying the Egyptian pharoah and a Japanese person in another film, the TV series 'Jesus of Nazareth' with a mostly white Briton cast, etc. No joke.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra, Yuell Brynner portraying the Egyptian pharoah and a Japanese person in another film,

John Wayne as Genghis Khan is unforgettable.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Such a dark story. Once seen or read, hard to forget.

I don't know why it is supposed to be a Danish story, as Macbeth is not a Danish name.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@1glenn

You are confusing Macbeth with Hamlet.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@ starpunk:

Nevertheless, Shakespearean plays generally have a motive or story underlying that really transcends race/culture/language barriers. That's why his plays are performed thruout the world. James Earl Jones is Black and he acted in Shakespeare plays, so has the ethnic Japanese-American George Takei. These plays can be performed in so many ways with various people of every kind and even with different settings.

Absolutely. The best "loose" adaptation of the story of Macbeth (as opposed to those adaptations which are textually and otherwise faithful to the original) I've ever seen is Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's 1957 film Throne of Blood, starring the always magnificent Toshiro Mifune as "Macbeth" and Isuzu Yamada as an unforgettable "Lady Macbeth". Transposed to the time when Japan was a collection of warring states, there's not a line from Shakespeare to be heard, but it is utterly faithful to the dark psychology and the brutality of the play. You obviously understand and appreciate your Shakespeare - if you haven't seen it, buddy, find it and watch it.

In my opinion the ultimate film adaptation of the play hasn't been made yet. The Polanski one in 1971 wasn't bad, the BBC version in the 80s was pretty damn good (like all the BBC productions) but I'm hoping this one, with Frances McDormand as the Lady and directed by Joel Cohen, is going to be it. Fingers crossed.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Starpunk

There's been plenty of movies, esp. the old ones where whites have portrayed such roles...

Those aren't the same thing. Those are Western actors in Western productions for primarily Western audiences. A comparable case, for example, would be Ryusuke Hamaguchi casting Tom Hardy as 19th century samurai Sakamoto Ryoma, in a Japanese production, ie greater diversity of roles for white actors -- reality be damned as in case of Denzel as MacBeth.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This guy is a top actor, and he is not a apologist, speaks his mind.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Uh, no thanks.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

That's been done already. There's been plenty of movies, esp. the old ones where whites have portrayed such roles, such as Alladin and Ali Baba from the 'Arabian Nights' stories, white actors playing India characters, Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra, Yuell Brynner portraying the Egyptian pharoah and a Japanese person in another film, the TV series 'Jesus of Nazareth' with a mostly white Briton cast, etc. No joke.

All true except that now most are having to apologies for playing those roles and are accused of cultural appropriation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

BigYen - have you seen Justin Kurzel's Macbeth with Michael Fassbinder and Marion Cotillard.

While it may not be the ultimate film version you seek, it's dark stranglehold on the viewer with gloom and mire the constant air, it certainly does reek of how I imagine a Macbeth tale to be.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

browny1:

No, I haven’t . Thanks for the tip, I’ll hunt it out. “Gloom and mire” is essential when it comes to Macbeth!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@browny1

Roman Polanski's Macbeth (1971) is the definitive version.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

reality be damned as in case of Denzel as MacBeth

I think reality was damned from the beginning. Macbeth didn't speak English.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Paustovsky you are correct. My bad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

AntiquesavingJan. 15  04:09 pm JST

That's been done already. There's been plenty of movies, esp. the old ones where whites have portrayed such roles, such as Alladin and Ali Baba from the 'Arabian Nights' stories, white actors playing India characters, Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra, Yuell Brynner portraying the Egyptian pharoah and a Japanese person in another film, the TV series 'Jesus of Nazareth' with a mostly white Briton cast, etc. No joke.

All true except that now most are having to apologies for playing those roles and are accused of cultural appropriation.

There should be no apologies from anyone. Shakespeare (and other) plays transcend and know no culture, race, language, any boundaries. just like other plays such as 'Jesus Christ Superstar' which is a 20th century 'rock opera'.

Absolutely. The best "loose" adaptation of the story of Macbeth (as opposed to those adaptations which are textually and otherwise faithful to the original) I've ever seen is Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's 1957 film Throne of Blood, starring the always magnificent Toshiro Mifune as "Macbeth" and Isuzu Yamada as an unforgettable "Lady Macbeth". Transposed to the time when Japan was a collection of warring states, there's not a line from Shakespeare to be heard, but it is utterly faithful to the dark psychology and the brutality of the play. 

When I was in college there was a 'Hamlet' starring Mel Gibson and others who certainly are not Danish. There's more than one way to skin a cat. And Denzel Washington's case is no different. He's a terrific actor and I think he can pull this one off real fine. And he's a good inspiration for young Black Americans too.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

BigYenJan. 15  05:06 pm JST

browny1:

No, I haven’t . Thanks for the tip, I’ll hunt it out. “Gloom and mire” is essential when it comes to Macbeth!

When I took Shakespeare as an English requirement in college, our prof told us that's why it's called a 'Shakespearean tragedy' - because so many deaths occur. Even if the good guys win in the end, so many characters die, that's the 'tragedy'.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Washington is a class act. It doesn’t really matter, at least to me, the color of his skin. It’s a great story but Macbeth was a terrible character and Lady Macbeth was even worse of a human being. Gotta give it to Shakespeare for creating a great story about two retched people with no redeeming qualities

1 ( +1 / -0 )

GaijinjlandToday  06:01 am JST

Washington is a class act. It doesn’t really matter, at least to me, the color of his skin. It’s a great story but Macbeth was a terrible character and Lady Macbeth was even worse of a human being. Gotta give it to Shakespeare for creating a great story about two retched people with no redeeming qualities

' two retched people with no redeeming qualities'

That's a big part of what makes Shakespeare plays so universal. Every continent, with every race and color and ethnicity, every language, every culture, every time period - you will see people like this. Before, yesterday, today, then, now, tomorrow. Change these factors but the song remains the same. Macbeth, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, Othello, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, any of them, all of them, for all time before and today and tomorrow. It's essential. True to life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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