Coriolanus – Film – 8GPPs
Straight to the Point
Takes a while to get into but is definitely worth a watch. Don’t be fooled by Gerard Butler, this is NOT an action film (although there is action in it) and is very much a modern day twist on a classic Shakespearian tragedy.. be warned! 8 GPPs
Things We Like
A modern setting to an old tale – I know this has been done before in Romeo and Juliet but Coriolanus, as much as it lends greatly from the aforementioned: News reports, guns instead of swords and suits instead of togas; has a completely different vibe and feeling; from the camera shots to acting itself. Slightly bizarre at times, I admit (but that’s Shakespeare for you) and it will take some time to acclimatise, but after a while the old and new just seem to merge together.
The choice of actors – Ray Fiennes as Caius Marcius, James Nesbit as Tribune Sicinius, James Cox as Menenius and action hero / general man’s, man; Gerard Butler as Tullus Aufidius . All seemed slightly out of place (bar Fiennes being a classical actor) but all played their roles brilliantly. Even Nesbit’s very N.Irish accent and Irish ‘isms,’ while conversing in the ye old tongue of Shakespeare, added to the modern flow and gave a layer of depth to a multicultural Rome.
The Battle scenes– They are few but very intense, with an atmospheric, ambient sound track; explosions, blood and gun fire. Think Black Hawk Down but instead of “howaaahs” and “SEMPER FI MARINE!” With a Texan General, chewing tobacco and spitting on the ground, you have a slightly blood thirsty and honour driven Marcius giving wonderful pep talks, such as:
Those are they
That most are willing. If any such be here–
As it were sin to doubt–that love this painting
Wherein you see me smear’d; if any fear
Lesser his person than an ill report;
If any think brave death outweighs bad life
And that his country’s dearer than himself;
Let him alone, or so many so minded,
Wave thus, to express his disposition,
And follow Marcius.
Again it’s slightly bizarre; I am not fluent in Shakespearian at all, so had to focus on what was being said a lot (luckily in the cinema there were subtitles for the deaf, which helped me just as much) but this was not a bad thing at all and if anything added to the general disorientation and confusion of the scenes; giving me the feeling of a more realistic and slightly uncomfortable battle.
The parallels between ancient Rome and modern day society– There is the saying “Rome is the mob,” an adage that is just as apt today as it was in Shakespeare’s and classical times. The people’s tribunes start worrying that marcius, being elected to the consulship will put an end to their jobs; so they stir up a shit storm to have him banished. The fickle plebs, who once loved their hero now turn on Marcius, with the steer of the tribunes and have him banished (to his distress)
[quote]You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o’ the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;
And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
Fan you into despair! Have the power still
To banish your defenders; till at length
Your ignorance, which finds not till it feels,
Making not reservation of yourselves,
Still your own foes, deliver you as most
Abated captives to some nation
That won you without blows! Despising,
For you, the city, thus I turn my back:
There is a world elsewhere.[/quote]
If you contrast this with what you see going on today, in the media and in the House of Commons, it is very apparent that we have not moved on much. Politicians (in the whole) do things for their own benefit but yet make it out to be for the “people.” The people of course being as fickle as they are, can be easily swayed and will quite happily turn against some one they once admired or held in high regard; on a whim… because we of course are infallible?
Marcius son – There is one scene where Marcius wife, mother, maid and son are begging him to spare Rome and his son stands up and says “A’ shall not tread on me;I’ll run away till I am bigger, but then I’ll fight” And? Well yes it sounds fine on paper but the way he said it just made me cringe. Kinda like Anikan in the Phantom Menace… you just wanted to slap him up side head
My childish mind – Some times you find yourself (or I did anyway) giggling at the language that is being used (they said gash.. te heee) or the fact that John Snow is in it, the legend that he is, and talks just like he does on the news but in ye old English; This kinda took the edge off things slightly.
When I started watching Carolinas I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it; and for the first few minutes I wasn’t. But as I gradually acclimatise to to the language and what was going on in the story I found myself being drawn in, and by the end was slightly saddened that it was over.. As if I had finally got ‘it’ and wanted to continue the journey into Rome.
Its hard going at times and you really need to focus; but Coriolanus, to me, was a well acted, well filmed and well adapted version of one of Shakespeare’s lesser know plays, and showcases the acting abilities of some of Britain’s most under rated actors.
Definitely worth a watch
By Matt Geary 01/02/2012
the play in full can be found at the flowing address:
A good article on the early history of Rome and where Shakespeare got inspiration for his play can be found here: