It is no secret that Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth is one of the most anticipated movies in the remainder of the year. It is also weird to see only Joel in charge of the film, the first one he directs solo since Intolerable Cruelty. But, apparently, the best-kept secret is that we might no longer see Joel and his brother Ethan work together.
In an interview framed within the Score podcast, composer Carter Burwell, a regular in Coen Brothers films like A Serious Man or True Grit, raised all the alarms with his statement: “Ethan just didn’t want to make movies anymore. Ethan seems very happy doing what he’s doing, and I’m not sure what Joel will do after this,” the musician commented referring to The Tragedy of Macbeth, Joel’s first movie on its own in a long time.
But don’t panic, this doesn’t mean that they are retiring permanently, but that they simply don’t want to make films now, as Burwell clarifies: “They also have a ton of scripts they’ve written together that are sitting on various shelves. I hope maybe they get back to those. I’ve read some of those, and they are great.” But he also warns: “We are all at an age where we just don’t know… we could all retire. It’s a wonderfully unpredictable business.”
Burwell, who is also the composer of The Tragedy of Macbeth itself, the film based on the Shakespeare play and starring Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington, already admitted last summer that it felt strange to make a movie without Ethan after so many years and that the director seemed to be “giving movies a rest” to focus on other projects, like stage plays.
The Tragedy of Macbeth will have its world premiere at the New York Film Festival, taking place between September 24 and October 10. We will have to see if, coinciding with the premiere, new details come to light and the filmmakers themselves talk about the subject, because at the moment these words are like cold water to the fans of the duo behind Fargo and The Big Lebowski (where Ethan only served as screenwriter) or Inside Llewyn Davis, one of their best movies as a directing duo.