Contemporary Coriolanus

Ralph Fiennes makes his directorial debut with this film with a Shakespearean adaptation.

Based on a tragedy by Shakespeare, this contemporary adaptation talks about a banished Roman hero who allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city. The film cast includes the director himself, Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox and Jessica Chastain among others.

According to, Ralph Fiennes directed the film because “it is an extremely provocative political fable. People are saying this is especially true considering the demonstrations on Wall Street and the Arab Springs, but it’s always relevant, the crisis of leadership, the crisis of authority. I think that’s with us all the time. I think it’s an exciting story and to set it onstage (as Shakespeare did) is actually quite difficult. In his later plays, Shakespeare gets quite ambitious in the type of worlds he’s asking his audience to imagine: the Roman senates, the marketplaces and streets. These are all things we think are a part of cinema, the scale and the context of the story. You can take a camera to the real place. Also, what a film can do is get into the face of people, which you can’t do on stage. The landscape of the face — what the face of a human being can say is so much. So I sort of think that you get this political fable that’s always relevant, with this scale.”

Said Vanessa Redgrave of Fiennes’ capabilities as a first-time director, according to ‘The Telegraph’, “I didn’t think I could play her but thanks to the fact that Ralph is an extraordinary director, I had complete trust in him. He assembled such a fantastic team of people, all of whom had trust in him and therefore we had trust in each other.” Gerard Butler, on the other hand said, “Ralph put me to the test. It was two of the most intense days of just grappling with one another. I wanted to bite his tongue, rip his tonsils out and eat his spleen,” adding that “The rolling around was almost sexual as well, with a mix of hatred and respect,” to “Ralph was incredibly supportive. I was entering a world I’m not used to, diving into a Shakespearean movie with semi-classical language. His excitement for my performance helped. He was specific and layered in what he wanted.” A look at the film’s trailer reveals a heady mix of drama, action and adventure.

As an actor essaying the main lead, Ralph Fiennes told ‘The Guardian’, “Coriolanus is a thing of thunder; an unbending Roman general run aground on the rocks of public opinion. His mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave) is grooming him for high office. She wants him to speak to the people and pander for votes, except that Coriolanus isn’t geared that way. He can’t do it, won’t do it. ‘It is a part,’ he says, ‘that I should blush in acting.’ The actor points out that he first tackled the role on stage back in 2000 and that it’s nagged at him since. He loves it’s propulsive, take-no-prisoners narrative; its jagged, knotty use of language. ‘There was just something in the play and in the part that sat with me and wouldn’t go away. It’s an obsession, I think, although I’ve never really analysed where it comes from.’”

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