The Coriolanus Effect


Shakespeare as you’ve seldom seen him.
Above: Ralph Fiennes in the title role of “Coriolanus”


Last night, we watched Ralph Fiennes’s modern-dress film of Shakespeare’s generally little-known, seldom-performed, and minimally-appreciated play Coriolanus.  (I’m told, though I don’t know how reliably, that T. S. Eliot proclaimed it his favorite among Shakespeare’s plays, which is perhaps justification enough in itself for giving it a look.)  Fiennes both directed the film and performs in it as the lead character.


Anyhow, I thought it was wonderful.  Along with a stage version of Measure for Measure that I saw somewhere many years ago, which was set in twentieth-century Vienna under the Nazis, this is by far the most successful and meaningful “modernization” of a Shakespeare play that I have ever seen.  And it’s far more ambitious than that staged Measure for Measure.


Really, it’s extraordinary, and I enthusiastically recommend it.


Posted from St. George, Utah.



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  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Have you seen the Patrick Stewart Macbeth or the Ian McKellan Richard III? Both are in that category as well. The Macbeth is absolutely scary, and the Richard III is depicted as a fascist coup in the 1930s, making it clear that it was not just a game among royals but had real consequences for the nation.