Shakespeare has rarely translated well to film, and even when it does — “Shakespeare in Love,” “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet” — it’s usually in a modernistic, revisionist way that steps outside the rigid confines of the Bard’s plays.
And the reason is simple: With nigh on half a millennium separating our version of the English language from his, it’s very difficult for anyone who’s not a Ph.D. in literature to comprehend just what the heck the characters are saying.
“Coriolanus,” based on one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works, lies somewhere in between classic and revisionist approaches. The dialogue is tweaked enough to make it so the layman can usually follow along, but the bones of the story are unchanged.
Ralph Fiennes, who also makes his directing debut, plays the title character, an over-proud general just returned triumphant to Rome. A rigid, inflexible man, he thinks his honor has won him the right to become consul, but the common people do not love him and scheming politicians maneuver to rob him of the title. Enraged, Coriolanus joins forces with his mortal enemy to wage war against the empire.
It’s grandiose, heavy stuff, and both Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave were passed over for Academy Award nominations they probably deserved. Gerard Butler plays Coriolanus’ enemy Tullus Aufidius, and the cast is rounded out by Jessica Chastain and Brian Cox.
Bonus features are the same for Blu-ray and DVD editions, and include a making-of featurette and an audio commentary track by Fiennes.
Film: 4 Yaps
Extras: 3.5 Yaps