| May 14, 2012

Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company present two-time Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut Coriolanus on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 29, 2012.

Adapted from Shakespeare’s play, this is a tightly wound, bold and caustic film interpretation of Shakespeare’s tale of Caius Marcius Coriolanus (Fiennes), Roman general during a time of great uprising in Rome. The Tarquin Kings have just been driven out and Coriolanus is under great pressure from the citizenry who are rioting because most of their food stores have gone the way of the expelled kings. Martial law has been declared and Coriolanus has single-handedly defeated the enemy. Most of the violence is presented in the opening sequence, as the Romans storm Carioli and Caius Marcius earns the honorific title Coriolanus. A prideful man, he tolerates little from the politicians and citizens he serves, and bristles at the slightest opposition, real or imagined. His only true ally is Menenius, played by Brian Cox, and is perhaps the best performance of the entire cast. Once back in Rome, his mother Volumina (Vanessa Redgrave) urges him to run for consul, sure he will have both the support of the senate and citizenry. But two members of the senate are extremely opposed to his becoming one of them.

Faced with opposition, Coriolanus flies into a rage. He rails against the concept of popular rule and compares allowing plebeians to have power over the patricians the same as allowing “crows to peck the eagles.” The two tribunes condemn Coriolanus as a traitor for his words, and order him banished. Coriolanus refuses their decision, stating that it is he who banishes Rome from his presence.

Once exiled from Rome, Coriolanus seeks out Aufidius (Gerard Butler) in the Volscian capital of Antium, and offers to let Aufidius kill him in order to spite the country that banished him. Moved by his plight and honored to fight alongside such a great general, Aufidius and his superiors embrace Coriolanus, and allow him to lead a new assault on the city.

Rome, in its panic, tries desperately to persuade Coriolanus to halt his crusade for vengeance, but both Cominius and Menenius fail. Finally, Volumnia is sent to meet with her son, along with Coriolanus’ wife Virgilia and child, and a chaste gentlewoman Valeria. Volumnia succeeds in dissuading her son from destroying Rome, and Coriolanus instead concludes a peace treaty between the Volscians and the Romans. When Coriolanus returns to the Volscian capital, conspirators, organised by Aufidius, kill him for his betrayal.

Placed within the context of a contemporary world, Fiennes’ interpretation holds up quite well and seems an apt mirror for the warrior mindset of today. Fiennes does a brilliant job as first-time director and coaxes superb performances from each of his actors, including the aforementioned Ms. Redgrave and Mr. Cox as well as Jessica Chastain and James Nesbitt in minor supporting roles.

To read more about this powerful new film or to watch a trailer, visit the official website here.

About the Author:

Del Harvey is a co-founder of Film Monthly. He is an independent filmmaker, film director, screenwriter, and film teacher, currently living in Chicago.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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