Production designer Stefan Dechant and costume designer Mary Zophres said director Joel Coen instructed them to make his film The Tragedy of Macbeth more abstract than a literal adaptation. Zophres and Dechant spoke with Deadline’s Justin Kroll at The Contenders Film: Los Angeles event Sunday.

“One of the first things he said was he didn’t want to deny the original text was for a theatrical experience,” Dechant said. “He wanted an abstraction right away.”

Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand play Lord and Lady Macbeth. Their castle reflects Coen’s mandate for abstraction.

“Joel was always saying, ‘It’s the idea of a castle — it’s not really a castle,’” Dechant said. “Even designing the backings, even though they were digitally printed, we painted them as such that they felt like hand-painted backings.”

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Zophres remembered Coen sharing black-and-white photographs of architecture, which inspired her costumes.

“It was very architectural and very geometric — shade, shadow and light,” Zophres said. “My first reaction was ‘Oh, we need to have geometry coming and filling these spaces.’ That was also our approach. This abstraction of the figure through a geometric shape was something he was very keen on and interested in.”

Shakespeare adaptations have ranged from traditional historical dramas to modern settings. Zophres said choosing the time period contributed to the abstract sense of the film.

“He said, ‘I just want it to look old,’” Zophres said. “Ah, what does that mean? We kind of landed on, ‘It’s not when it was written, it’s more when Macbeth existed,’ which is the 1100s, but we weren’t being literal about it. That was freeing and scary at the same time.”

Coen’s retelling of the Shakespeare talefrom  Apple Original Films and A24 closed this year’s BFI London Film Festival. A24 will release the pic, which also stars Alex Hassell as Ross and Bertie Carvel as Banquo, on Christmas Day in North America.

Frances McDormand & Joel Coen Answer All Questions On Eve Of New York Film Festival Opener ‘The Tragedy Of Macbeth’

Check back Tuesday for the panel video.

Deadline Contenders Film Los Angeles Official Sponsor is Aero.

Other sponsors include: Michter’s, Mezcal Los Siete Misterios, Eyepetizer, Final Draft and modMD.

Partners include: Modern Resale, Tidelli and Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.

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