I’m not the biggest Shakespeare fan. In fact, I’ve never read any of his works except Sonnet 18 which I was not able to appreciate in high school. I can understand the gist of what he is trying to pronounce but problem arises when teachers require a foolscap long analysis of a 14-line poem. I’m also not fond of his legion of snob and self-proclaimed literature junkies who think they’re better than everyone else. Yet here I am writing a post about Coriolanus, a 2011 movie directed by Ralph Fiennes who also starred as the titular role.
The movie was recommended by the mistress of the universe, whose blog I avidly follow. I acquired a copy of the film and tried watching it about a month ago. I did not get past the scene at the Central Grain Depot Rome. The characters were speaking in 16th century language with all the “thou” and “tither”, I think I get what they were saying but being the over thinker that I am, I wanted to digest every word which I can’t. It eventually lead to disappointment.
A while ago, I tried watching the film again, this time with subtitles. I still was not able to grasp every inch of dialogue but I realized it wasn’t important because the actors were so good their expressions were enough to make us, the audience, feel what we were supposed to feel. It is the story of a too-honest war hero thrown out by the people he defended who then went to his arch-enemy to join him and revenge on his city.
I liked that the movie played with my emotions. In the beginning I hated Coriolanus and rooted for the plebeians who were against him. The middle part had me feeling the other way around. Come to think of it, the only character I liked all throughout was Aufidius primarily because it was played by Gerard Butler. Nah, I detested him in the last part.
And the old-style speaking I was not fond of before, I appreciate now. One of my favorites being Coriolanus’ line after he was banished by the people in a country he single-handedly defended (which Ralph Fiennes delivered fiercely with matching saliva).
You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o’ the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;
And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
Fan you into despair! Have the power still
To banish your defenders; till at length
Your ignorance, which finds not till it feels,
Making not reservation of yourselves,
Still your own foes, deliver you as most
Abated captives to some nation
That won you without blows! Despising,
For you, the city, thus I turn my back:
There is a world elsewhere.
The senators were acting like, well, politicians.
Coriolanus’ mother played by Vanessa Redgrave was so intense she said she’d rather have “eleven [sons] die nobly for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action“. Her influence on the protagonist was enormous she was able to reason him out of his vengeance.
Too bad because I wanted Coriolanus to burn Rome.