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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The classic legend of honor and betrayal has been astonishingly re-imagined in this exhilarating action thriller that wields a profound relevance for today. Caius Martius 'Coriolanus' (star and director Ralph Fiennes) is a feared and revered Roman General, suddenly pitted against his own city and fellow citizens. Rebelling against the power-hungry designs of his manipulative mother (Vanessa Redgrave) and rejected by his own people, Coriolanus incites a riot that expels him from Rome. The banished hero joins forces with his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) to exact his revenge -- and determine his destiny.

Actor-director Ralph Fiennes may not appreciate the comparison, but his modern-dress version of Coriolanus sometimes plays like William Shakespeare by way of Fight Club. In this case, Volscian leader Aufidius (Gerald Butler, nicely understated) plays the Tyler Durden role in that his character doubles as a living conscience. Fiennes's bullet-headed, battle-scarred General Caius Martius may be willing to put his life on the line for his people, but he has no interest in actually listening to their concerns, a development that anticipates the Occupy movement. As Rome's food supply dwindles and rioting begins, Martius suspends civil liberties, and heads off to battle against a man he both despises and admires (and Fiennes doesn't shy away from intimations of same-sex attraction). In the script by Gladiator's John Logan, automatic weaponry replaces swords, contributing to an especially visceral Shakespearean adaptation (Hurt Locker cinematographer Barry Ackroyd's handheld camera work reinforces the rough-hewn quality). At home, Martius's wary wife (Jessica Chastain) and proud mother (Vanessa Redgrave) fear for his life, while his most ardent supporter, Senator Menenius (Brian Cox, excellent), defends him against his detractors, like Tribune Sicinius (James Nesbitt). Though successful on the battlefield, the political neophyte--now known as Coriolanus--soon finds himself an exile, eventually aligning with Aufidius, but what looks like a turncoat move proves more complicated. If Martius starts out as a Fiennes villain in the vein of Amon Goeth, he gradually transforms from a monster into a man. Too bad politics favors the less complicated types. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler
  • Directors: Ralph Fiennes
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: The Weinstein Company
  • DVD Release Date: May 29, 2012
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0059XTUR2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,644 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Coriolanus" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Adam on December 21, 2011
Format: DVD
This is a tight, well-crafted script by John Logan. Cutting Shakespeare can be difficult and he did an excellent job, along with Ralph Fiennes of getting us the information we need to follow the story while still keeping us interested.

Fiennes is very, very good in this. His intensity blazes throughout, as a soldier's soldier and a man with little to connect him to the people outside of his comfort zone--aka the battlefield.

Vanessa Redgrave is, as always, compelling as Volumnia. She will definitely be up for some awards for this performance.

Just to comment on the first post made--

This movie is nothing at all like Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet. Luhrmann's film was Shakespeare on acid [i very much liked that film as well]. This is something completely different. Simply labeling it 'a grown up R&J' does a disservice to Coriolanus. Just because it's modernized doesn't make it similar, at all.

It is Shakespeare, so for the first few minutes while you're getting used to the language it will throw you off. But the actors are so skilled in this film they make sense of the text for you, so you can understand and enjoy the use of Shakespeare's language. There are some wonderful soliloquies in the movie as well. If you don't like Shakespeare or you don't want to pay attention, don't see it, simple as that.
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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Edward on February 4, 2012
Format: DVD
Shakespere's late military drama "Coriolanus" is rarely staged. Perhaps the most famous modern production was at Stratford-upon-Avon: during the run Olivier injured himself in his spectacular death scene and had to be replaced the next performance by a young Albert Finney, leaping into stardom. To my knowledge the new movie version is the first time the tragedy has been filmed, and a very impressive début it is. Ralph Fiennes, who seems to have made a career playing aloof patronising men (Eugene Onegin, et al), is making his own directorial début, guiding himself in a strong performance as the fatally disdainful patrician. He has placed the 5th Century BCE story in our own 21st Century with almost depressing relevance: the military invasion, the political back-stabbings, the bloody assassination are all alarmingly suitable. Most of the violence is presented in the opening sequence, as the Romans storm Carioli and Caius Marcius single-handedly defeats the citadel, earning himself the honorific title Coriolanus. Both Carioli and Rome seem to be suffering inner-city blight as filmed by cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, but, considering the bleakness of this story, his neorealistic vision is apt. The acting of Fiennes's supporting cast is also realistic, no one attempting a "grand" style, yet remaining faithful to Shakespeare's expression. Brian Cox is especially good as Menenius, and his scenes with the two conspirators played by James Nesbitt and Paul Jesson are some of the best in the picture. (By the way, during the crawl credits at the end, we learn that two of the Roman citizens have been christened Cassius and Tamora, dark characters from other tragedies.Read more ›
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Format: Amazon Instant Video
NOTE: The dialogue in this film is NOT in contemporary English, but taken from actual Shakespearean text. DO NOT PURCHASE THE FILM UNLESS YOU KNOW THIS!

A lot of people have attempted modern, updated or anachronistic interpretations of Shakespeare's great works. While some have been fantastic, just as many have fallen short of their potential. It's really about finding the right contemporary setting in which to locate the piece. For my money, 1995's "Richard III" (headlined and scripted by Ian McKellen and set in war torn England during the second World War) is one of my all time favorites. Truthfully, I've read my share of Shakespeare but "Coriolanus" is not one of the plays I was familiar with--here it is adapted by three time Oscar nominated screenwriter John Logan. I think this probably serves Ralph Fiennes' interpretation quite well, it is not as overworked as other Shakespeare offerings. Fiennes takes the directorial reins and stars in "Coriolanus" and the result seems incredibly timely and powerful. With much of our world engaged in ongoing civil strife, this narrative plays to the identifiable concepts of government corruption, oppression and insurrection, and military coups and guerilla warfare. Seriously, it's as if it was written today! I guess some things never go out of style.

"Coriolanus" opens up as a Roman General (Fiennes) staves off the invading forces of an opposing army led by Gerald Butler. But Fiennes, despite his service, is not a beloved figure. Although he tries to abide by the needs of his advisers/allies (chiefly Brian Cox and James Nesbitt), his domineering mother (Vanessa Redgrave), and his faithful wife (Jessica Chastain), he seems unable to appease the demands of the oppressed masses.
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52 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Dr. James Gardner VINE VOICE on January 29, 2012
Format: DVD
Ralph Fiennes' "Coriolanus" is magnificently staged, well-acted, and retains the beauty of Shakespeare's language even while it adeptly moves it into a modern setting and away from its origins as a play.

The formidable task of both directing and acting in a Shakespeare play has attracted previous talents such as Orson Welles ("Macbeth", "Othello") and Kenneth Branagh ("Hamlet", "Much Ado About Nothing") and the results have not always been positive. But Fiennes rises to the task, giving us a powerful and unrepentant Coriolanus even as he gets great performances from his cast and keeps the action moving.

Adapting Shakespeare to modern tastes is even more difficult that directing and acting in the play. The choice to place Ian McKellen's "Richard III" (1995) into a 1930s fascist world was not entirely successful, nor was Tim Blake's 2001 "O". OTOH, "West Side Story" was certainly a crowd pleaser even if it didn't stay true to the language, and Al Pacino's 1996 semi-documentary "Looking for Richard" was surprisingly good.

Coriolanus is one of the least popular of Shakespeare's plays and one that is rarely performed. Despite the exquisiteness of the language and the skewering of the mob and politicians alike, the central problem of the play is the lack of a hero to cheer for. Even the dourest of Shakespeare's histories and tragedies have someone to cheer for, but Coriolanus is distinctly lacking anyone worthy of sympathy among the first tier.

Fiennes is not the first person you'd think of to play the warrior general. His Oscar nominated performances in "The English Patient" (1996) and "Schindler's List" (1993) show none of the character traits Fiennes brings to bear in his powerful performance.
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