I watched Ralph Fiennes’ version of Coriolanus for the first time last night – at least, I think it was for the first time. I seemed to keep remembering bits but Mark tells me we didn’t go to see it so I guess I must have just seen a particularly long trailer. The play is an analysis of military and political power, and how transferring the one to the other doesn’t necessarily work: Coriolanus saves Rome from attack and is granted state honours including a position of some political power. But he is unable to make the transition: he can’t negotiate and regards everyone who disagrees with him as an enemy. Does this remind you of anyone?
Hem! Let’s not go there again… suffice it to say I would have thought Thatcher a great deal braver had she done as leaders traditionally did, and that is to lead their troops into battle rather than just dispatching them to die on Goose Green.
Enough! To return to Coriolanus, following his abuses of power, he is exiled from the city and goes to his old enemy to offer his services. Unable to serve as a subordinate, he effectively takes over: when Rome is in trouble his formidable mother, Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave) and his rather wimpish wife go to him on bended knee to beg him to return. He does, eventually, and is killed in a thoroughly dramatic display of nemesis.
I thought it was a good film, but I had some issues with it. It was trying to do the same thing as the Leonardo di Caprio version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – the original text, but with modern newsreels, dramatic changes of shot, tanks and rifles etc – but it didn’t do it half so well. I also thought that Ralph Fiennes directing himself didn’t act as well as he does when directed by others, so that at times this usually phenomenal actor looked like a cross between Voldemort and Mr Rigsby from ‘Rising Damp’
Speaking of Shakespeare, are you watching the repeats of ‘I, Claudius’? Apart from the lack of external shots it hadn’t dated at all. Bub-brilliant!