DVD Review: Coriolanus

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Shakespeare has rarely translated well to film, and even when it does – “Shakespeare in Love,” “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 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. The dialogue is tweaked enough to make it so the layman can follow along, but the bones of the story are still there.

Ralph Fiennes, who also makes his directing debut, plays the title character, an over-proud general just returned triumphant to Rome. 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, bombastic stuff, and both Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave were passed over for Academy Award nominations they probably deserved.

 

Movie: B

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