FNE at Berlinale 2011: Competition Coriolanus

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BERLIN: Ralph Fiennes does not disappoint with his directorial debut of Shakespeare's Coriolanus. Indeed Fiennes' mastery of the Shakespearian material makes this look more like the work of an experienced director than a first-timer. The language has been updated by John Logan and set by Fiennes in the modern day Belgrade but the story has lost none of its Shakespearian power.


It's a moving tragedy with some of the finest performances in recent memory from Fiennes as Coriolanus in the leading role, Vanessa Redgrave as his mother and Gerard Butler as his enemy Aufidius.

This could also pass for a modern day war movie with plenty of tanks, rockets and urban combat on display although the heros of this war movie display a lot more interest in dialogue than your usually Hollywood action star.

Fiennes as Caius Martius- Coriolanus - arrives back in Belgrade the city state of "Rome" after a series of bloody and victorious battles and is acclaimed as a warrior. He has defeated Aufidius the leader of the rebel forces. But he has to gain the support of the people and as he has also carried out bloody reprisals against the people and he is no crowd pleaser. Political intrigues win the day and Coriolanus is rejected and banished.

Bent on revenge he joins up with his enemy Aufidius and together the two former enemies plot to overthrow the city. Fiennes and Butler play their roles with plenty of swagger and menace while Redgrave turns in a performance as his mother that hits every note in the emotional register.

Speaking at the press conference Fiennes said that he realized that Coriolanus would make an excellent film when he played the part on the stage about ten years ago. "I became obsesses with it and I was lucky enough to meet John Logan who adapted it for the stage."

Fiennes said he saw Coriolanus as a samurai who is ready to lose his life in combat for his country. "I think Coriolanus and Aufidius even though they are enemies also have an admiration for each other as fellow warriors. I wanted to set the story in the persent day because I think the themes are very contemporary. The story was originally set in a time of huge economic upheaval and crisis by Shakespeare and we live in a time of economic upheaval and crisis today. I believe Shakespeare provokes and asks questions of his audience. He asks the question of how society should function and this question is still relevant today."

Director: Ralph Fiennes

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox, James Nesbitt