Rome in the 4th century B.C. The citizens are in a mutinous mood. The rich are hoarding grain, the poor are starving and rebellion is in the air. One of the main targets of the general malcontent is Caius Martius, a haughty general who makes no secret of his disdain for plebeians. The Volscians begin to gather before the city, and the situation becomes critical. Their leader is Tullus Aufidius, a formidable military commander and arch-enemy of Caius Martius. A decisive battle takes place near the town of Corioles; thanks to the personal valour of General Caius Martius, the Roman army emerges victorious. His bravery earns him the epithet ‘Coriolanus’ – the one who liberated Corioles. Coriolanus is now popular enough to enter politics. He is urged to do so by his mother Volumnia, and his old mentor Menenius is also willing to help him rise to power. But first Coriolanus needs to be elected. This volatile soldier is anything but a good speaker and winning ways are anathema to his nature. Provoked by his political opponents Coriolanus insults the plebeians during a public appearance, and this puts an end to his political ambitions. The people rebel against him and are only placated by the lifelong banishment of their former war hero from the city. Coriolanus leaves Rome, bent on revenge. If he is to conquer Rome he needs the military support of his nemesis, Tullus Aufidius.
For his directorial debut, actor Ralph Fiennes chose to transpose Shakespeare’s play, originally written around 1607, to the present. The play’s dialogue has remained unchanged.
by Ralph Fiennes
with Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox, James Nesbitt
United Kingdom 2010 122’

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