Coriolanus Film Review. An Ancient Tale Reborn
Deep in the heart of Serbia a fierce war is underway on the outskirts of Belgrade. Gun shots can be heard coupled with the defining sounds of tank engines and heavily armored trucks. As the dust settles, the camouflaged figures of hundreds of battled hardened men can be observed, making their way to and fro amidst the rubble of what appears to be a ravaged war zone. To the untrained eye, the whole scene looks real and the very air seems wrought with a feeling of menacing chaos.
When one approaches for a closer look, however, camera men can be spotted and the environment reveals itself for what it truly is; the set of a new action packed war movie. The soldiers are Serbian Special Ops forces trained as extras, and the explosions and gunfire are carefully calculated facets of what will one day strike fans as epic battle scenes. Although hardly a Shakespearian site, the entire ensemble is directed at one ultimate goal; retelling the age old saga of Coriolanus.
Ralph Fiennes is determined to create a modern rendition of Coriolanus which will satisfy both Shakespeare fans and modern war film fans alike. Although resurfaced with a contemporary appearance, Coriolanus follows the same primeval plot. Political ruthlessness is the name of the game as two warring tribes via for power in a country on the brink of destruction. In the midst of this chaos, a twisted hero is born. Ralph Fiennes (in addition to directing) steps into the shoes of the famous Anti-hero Coriolanus as he strives to gain power at all costs.
Explosions and gunfire resound as Coriolanus’s battle hardened men (Siberian Special Ops forces) tear through a communist-era block of flats in a factory town outside the Serbian capital. All hope for the populace rests in the rugged hands of the fierce war General Tullus Aufidius played by Gerard Butler.
On Set, the Scottish actor is decked out in a fully camouflage uniform coupled with a thick beard and mirrored sunglasses. His men (none of which are under 6 foot 5) heed his every word. Gerard Butler’s booming voice can be heard echoing through the war torn buildings as he yells obscenities to himself psyching up. “Action!” Yells the camera man and then turning to his men Gerard Butler (Now fully in character) barks orders at them, positioning them for combat. Amid the crumbling brick buildings and graffiti ridden flats, Tullus Aufidius will stop at nothing to divert the onslaught of Coriolanus and his men.
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Thanks to award winning cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (the talent behind The Hurt Locker, The Wind that Shakes, and Greene Zone) Coriolanus is set to be a stunning film. Barry is taking extreme measures to bring the action sequences to life. As it stands, the crew has set a sofa ablaze, blown up several cars, and detonated an entire buss. In describing the film set producer Gabrielle Tana says “It’s the most Macho things Ever.”
The film is like a Shakespearian epic on steroids. Although set in modern times it borrows heavily from its origin. Despite the high tech weaponry and contemporary uniforms, one can easily spot the difference between a Roman and Volscian. The Romans are dressed in high tech Camouflage gear and are (for the most part) soldiers loaned from the Serbian government. The Volscian, on the other hand, possesses a much more ragtag appearance with their tattoos, piercings, and bandannas. “Guns and roses!” exclaims the makeup artist as he preps the Volscian troops for combat.
At this point in the production, much of the film’s plot is still shrouded in mystery. The best clues, however, can be derived from Shakespeare’s epic itself. The Shakespearian saga is set in ancient Rome and tells of a man named Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes) who will stop at nothing to gain power. In the aftermath of a fierce famine, Rome’s common people demand the right to set the price for the city’s grain supply. The proud patrician soldier Coriolanus becomes infuriated when Rome’s officials yield to the common people’s wishes. In his mind, the plebeians are worthless low life individuals who should be devoid of any rights.
Time passes and war breaks out between Rome and a fierce neighboring tribe known as the Volscians. Coriolanus engages the Volscians in combat and defeats their general Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler). He returns to Rome as an esteemed war hero, and is given the opportunity to be elected consul. In order to gain this office, however, Coriolanus must go out and plead for the votes of the plebeians, a task that he undertakes reluctantly. At first, the common people agree to elect the patrician soldier, but their minds are soon changed by two clever tribunes Brutus and Sicinius who consider Coriolanus an enemy of the people. Coriolanus is driven into a blind rage at this rejection and abandons the city of Rome, allying himself with his former rival Tullus Aufidius. The two assemble a massive army and march on Rome annihilating all opposition in their path.
As the army surrounds the city, Rome’s citizens become terrified, and two of Coriolanus’s closest friends come to him begging him to lift the siege. Coriolanus, however, remains resolved in his conquest until yet another more significant visitor approaches him. His own mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave ) exits the city and comes to him to plead him for mercy. Seeing the desperation of his mother (who he loves dearly) Coriolanus finally relents and withdraws from the city. Tullus Aufidius feels insulted by this act and declares that Coriolanus failure to take Rome amounts to treachery; in the ensuing arguments, Coriolanus is assassinated by Aufidius’s men.
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Returning to the busy film set, and the all too familiar noises of tanks and heavily armored trucks, we cannot help but wonder how closely the upcoming film will follow the plot of the Shakespearian epic. When inquired, Ralph Fiennes (director and star), simply replies, "Coriolanus, to some extent, asks what the role of a soldier is, not just in battle, but also in life. Shakespeare challenges the audience to resist his complex central figure, but against our reason, we often find ourselves siding with him."
For now, much of the film’s plot will remain a mystery, but indeed, one thing is very clear: Gerard Butler fans who visit the theaters this coming year are sure to be entertained. Guns will blaze, lives will be taken, and political treachery will abound as an ancient tale is reborn; the tale of Coriolanus.
- Ralph Fiennes – Caius Martius ‘Coriolanus’ (Ralph will be both directing and starring in the upcoming film.
- Gerard Butler – Tullus Aufidius
- Vanessa Redgrave – Volumnia (Coriolanus mother)
- John Logan – Screenwriter (Most notable work include: Gladiator , The Aviator , The Last Samurai , Star Trek: Nemesis , Sweeney Todd , and Any Given Sunday )
- Barry Ackroyd – DoP (Notable work: The Hurt Locker )
- In addition celebrities such as James Nesbitt , John Kani , Paul Jesson , and Mona Hammond will tackle other leading roles.
Coriolanus Film Release date : The film is expected to open the 2011 Belgrade International Film Festival
Coriolanus Concept Art - Fighting and Riot Scene.
Coriolanus Behind the Scenes Film Production Pictures:
Gerard Butler DVD Advertisement: The left image is the UK DVD packaging, the right image is the USA DVD packaging. Click on the dvd to make a purchase from our Gerard Butler store today.
Coriolanus Video Clips:
Gerard Butler on the Coriolanus film set. Behind the Scenes footage:
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Gerard Butler interview on Coriolanus with the Serbian Ministry of Defence
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Essential Gerard Butler Facts
- Gerard Butler had previously played the role of Tullus Aufidius in the theater version of Shakespeare’s epic, so the role in the film version is not foreign to him.
- The news of Gerard Butler joining the set was the lure for buyers at the American film market.
- Gerard Butler boasts five fake tattoos for his role as Tullus Aufidius. The actor will display a religious figure on his right bicep, and the words Volsci on his left bicep. The religious image on his left bicep is a powerful reminder, of Tullus's life-time commitment to his religion and faith.
- While on the film set, Gerard Butler had the privilege of meeting the Serbian Minister of Defense. While speaking with him Gerard Butler joked, "Oh dear. I thought I was the tallest until I met you". Gerard Butler’s height is 6 foot 2.
- Ralph Fiennes explained his casting of Gerard Butler by saying he wanted an actor with physical charisma. Someone the audience would believe as a contender. "People need to think he can win. Is Aufidius going to beat the shit out of Coriolanus?" “The male rivalry is integral to Coriolanus...and Gerard is perfectly able to deliver that menacing presence.”Quote Ralph Fiennes.
- Gerard Butler has saved money on hair dye for this role. This is one role in which Gerry’s natural colors have been allowed to shine through. The Hollywood megastar is already going gray and, coincidentally, he is required to have some gray hair for the role to help give him a more rugged aged appearance.
- Coriolanus is not a high budget film, and as a result of this, Gerard Butler has had to take a pay cut. Gerry is completely ok with this fact, due to his personal interest in Shakespeare. Gerard Butler describes the upcoming film as a “Brilliant adaptation to Shakespeare.” Quote Gerard Butler.
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