If Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, which stars Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington, and released on Apple TV+ last week has piqued your interest in more Shakespeare adaptations, we’ve got you covered. Here are 5 you should check out:
William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Streaming on: Apple TV+, YouTube
One of the most audacious Shakespearean adaptations in modern film, Australian auteur’s Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo+Juliet defies form and thrives on stylistic dissonance by flaunting the Bard’s language in 1990s America. Starring a pre-Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio and a pre-pre-Homeland Claire Danes, the punkish hybrid of the classical and the contemporary is strangely beguiling, consistently challenging the viewer’s perception of image+sound in pursuit of original feeling.
Paddayi, Abhaya Simha’s National Award-winning Tulu film is a visually stunning retelling of Macbeth in a fishing town. Here, instead of the three witches, we have one deity. That the premonition comes from a divine being makes this film in some sense, theological. Why would a god dictate failure as he does fortune? It is the death of both, the idea of freewill, as well as god as an omnipotent being? The film infuses local references like the Yakshagana theatrical performances into the proceedings to give a rich, layered retelling to an iconic story.
Streaming on: Hoichoi
Anirban Bhattacharya’s elemental adaptation locates Macbeth on the shores of a Bengali coastal village where power games break out surrounding its fishery business. Expanding on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s childlessness, Bhattacharya and Pratik Dutta’s script gives our anti-hero the curse of impotency, while an old lady, her son, and their black cat – providing commentary from the margins – fill in for the weird sisters.
Lady Macbeth (2017)
Streaming on: Apple TV+
As an impetuous young bride sold into marriage to a wealthier, much older husband, Katherine Lester (Florence Pugh) begins to chafe against the restraints of a patriarchal society in 1860s England. Her drive to assert herself is not framed as a glib tale of women empowerment, but as a sinister examination of cold-blooded desire. This adaptation of Nikolai Leskov’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1865), a novel inspired by the Shakespearean play, was Pugh’s breakthrough role, winning her a British Independent Film Award.
Streaming on: Eros Now
Jayaraj’s Kaliyattam is Shakspeare 101 to a whole generation of Malayalees. The director takes Othello and gives it a Theyyam setting in North Kerala. The songs were great, the performances were great and it also led to the discovery of the industry’s staple actor in Lal. Suresh Gopi also went on to win the National Award that year for his performance as Kannan Perumalayan or Othello.