Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Fiennes: Coriolanus relevant today

Ralph Fiennes reckons a modern twist is the best way to go when portraying Shakespeare on the big screen

Ralph Fiennes believes audiences will relate to his modern-day film interpretation of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, as its themes reflect the current mood of social unrest.

The Harry Potter actor will premiere his directorial debut, starring himself, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox and Gerard Butler at the Berlin Film Festival next month and feels its political message is relevant today.

Ralph told The Guardian: "The film is not portraying any specific conflict, though it obviously has parallels with recent social unrest in Greece, Tunisia, or even here, where police are carrying riot shields and kettling protesters.

"Before we started, I was prompted by descriptions of Russians going into Grozny and Americans going into Fallujah."

The play was briefly banned in 1930s France due to its perceived fascist sensibilities.

The English Patient star said: "In the past it has been linked with fascist ideology. But that's not the right way to go. It's a story of loss and waste and devastation. Shakespeare is about provoking questions as opposed to telling you which way to vote, so to give it any overtly pro or anti-fascist slant is wrong."

The film was shot in Belgrade by the cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, who last worked with Ralph on the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, and Ralph felt it was important to update the play for the big screen.

He said: "Having acted in various Shakespeare productions over the years, I think that to be completely modern is the only way to go. Have the actors in modern clothes, drinking coffee, talking on mobile phones. It releases the energy somehow."

Coriolanus is one of 22 films in contention for this year's Golden Lion award.

The 61st Berlin Film Festival runs from 10-20 February.

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