Total War: Rome – Modern Warfare Edition…
Filming any of The Bard’s tales has always been a tricky task for any accomplished director, but for first timer Ralph Fiennes, taking on one of Shakespeare’s lesser known and difficult works is like fighting the force of the Tiber itself.
Shakespeare’s work has been plucked with varying degrees of success for many a year now, often failing in clumsy interpretations, and in most modern adaptations, the clear desire to make the syntax trendy and current.
But in this Roman tragedy, Fiennes has pulled off the neat trick of setting ancient Rome’s battle with the rebel Volscian Army in Modern Warfare style action with some of the best delivery of old Bill’s dialogue yet.
It’s a fine balance that pays off, indebted to the passion of Fiennes to do justice to the great work and no shortage of dynamic direction when bringing Coriolanus’ urban combat to life.
It’s a faithful, assured interpretation that most successfully puts the age old language ahead of any modern day gimmickry, feeling authentic rather than indulgent.
In Fiennes’ own lead turn as the legendary general, a clear passion for the writings pierces through dragon like eyes (or should I say Snake) and sharpened teeth. It’s a brilliant, snarling performance perhaps justifying the great city’s plebs not to take Rome’s greatest son to their bosom.
And it’s with Rome’s populous and scheming tribunes that Coriolanus’ greatest battle is fought, revisiting the since repeated story of a great warrior turned unsuccessful politician after glorious battlefield victory.
The new consul’s disdain for the lower classes enjoying freedom unearned, bringing about a class war that’s just as relevant today, as electioneering takes to the streets to win popular rule support, a notion that betrays all his instincts of allowing the unheralded power over patricians.
A resulting TV debate sees Fiennes finally rip into already disquieting plebs, perceived as traitorous bringing about banishment; it’s a pure acting tour de force as Coriolanus begins his long road to vengeance.
Thespian support is quality too, with Gerald Butler’s opposing general, Aufidius chewing through reams of rich dialogue, but greatest of all is Vanessa Redgrave as counselling mother Volumnia whose brilliant turn elevates Coriolanus in its most pivotal and emotional act as mother, wife and son kneel for pity.
Stalling in parts with many acts languishing, Fiennes still keeps the naturally fragmented play coherent. Coriolanus’ bleak narrative never gives way to flamboyancy, as Fiennes grainy capturing of a place that calls itself Rome attunes perfectly to what is one of Shakespeare’s singularly tragic plays.
With previous attempts at Shakespeare leaving the feeling of “oh look I have just reinvented Shakespeare” putting me off many of the movie retellings, Fiennes’ emotional, unshowy reworking has brought a new found faith in making the old modern and relevant.
(LoveFilm by post)