CORIOLANUS, as we prefer the French translation highly touted and misleading (Enemies jurors, sic.), is the adaptation of the play “Coriolanus”. Written by Shakespeare in 1607 according to the chronicle of Plutarch on the general Caius Martius Coriolanus, who turned against Rome, a city-State to which it had bravely defended. Summoning the figures of the Senate and of the People in a Republic weakened by temptations wing populist, and tyrannical, the play “Coriolanus,” had already in the 17th century, have strange resonances with the English monarchy. Since the base material was already anachronistic, although faithful to its historical source, it seems consistent to have chosen to reproduce this effect in this new adaptation. The screenwriter and co-producer John Logan has opted for fidelity to the text and placed in the mouths of the actors today the language elizabethan yesterday. The result is amazing, a bit confusing, but far from being missed.

The decor of the modern CORIOLANUS is the case of Serbia, recalling via news pictures or sound environments, the conflicts in the Balkans. So far, the war that comes to mind in seeing the film and Ralph Fiennes, is not that of Kosovo, but the war against terrorism (or the conflicts of Iraq and Syria). Because the theme policy central scenario is that of a democratic State that creates its own enemies. By not translating, not the original text into modern language, CORIOLANUS retains the ambiguity of the base material but also provides new interpretations. Because down of the Story, there are also all the characters that Shakespeare has inspired beyond his work that would come up. To mention only one, obviously Marlon Brando in the heart of the shadowy jungle ofApocalypse Now, whose shaved head is a strange echo.

“By not translating, not the original text into modern language, CORIOLANUS retains the ambiguity of the base material but also provides new interpretations.”

The staging of Fiennes and the scenario of Logan to find a margin of freedom in the interstices of the text original. Short sequences of quasi-dumb, they reinforce the idea that a timeless truth has become incarnate in a material reality. The characters are both archetypal shakespearean characters AND narrative. It is enough to see Jessica Chastain to rest on the chest of her son’s play the miniature tank fell on the ground, to understand the relationship that binds him to his general as a husband. But also the place dedicated to the little boys in the company. Or the absence of the father. Etc. These short scenes allow the film to disassociate themselves from the room, without for all that denying. They also give the players of talent such as Gerard Butler, the opportunity to humanize figures by relieving them temporarily from the weight of History.

CORIOLANUS is not trying to get rid of the theatricality inherent in the dialogues, Fiennes prefers to downright embrace this dimension dummy. One feels the desire of distancing, in order to push the viewer to think about what he saw today in the light of the past. Of course, this bias will leave many people on the side, especially if they expect a film of modern war, “easy to access” (as the French title suggests).

The film is ultimately only a reflection of its main character. Proud, the general does not wish to lower himself to speak to the people, whom he despises from the top of its condition of an aristocrat. He believes to be his duty to tell them of painful truths rather than soft lies. By refusing to deliver the entertainment that is expected of him for the benefit of the language is shakespearean, Ralph Fiennes shows the same morgue against the popular. One cannot avoid asking themselves the question : an adaptation more “general public” would have it been possible ? We may be disturbed by the radical choice of Fiennes and Logan, but we must acknowledge their courage to have been consistent, end-to-end.

Thomas Coispel

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