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Shakespeare's Coriolanus to open FEST

British actor and now film director Ralph Fiennes opens Belgrade 39th International Film Festival FEST 2011. After the second premiere of Fiennes’ directorial debut of Shakespeare's adaptation of Coriolanus, Belgrade’s 50 000 people of Sava Centar Hall sighed frantic by the very fact that the film was all done in Belgrade. Fiennes here stars next to Brian Cox, Gerard Butler, James Nesbitt,  Vanessa Redgrave and couple of Serbian actors Dragan Micanovic and Slavko Stimac. The film, as I said, was entirely shot in Belgrade in the authentic Serbian Parliament buildings and streets, even if the conflict drama is a contemporary version  of Shakespeare’s drama, about war in Rome and Roman hero, the cruel Coriolanus, which resemblance on civil war conflict not long ago on the ex Yugoslavian region. The film, however, according to Fiennes, never meant to be anything but Shakespeare adaptation and has got nothing to do with civil war conflicts. Ralph Fiennes wanted to find, as he explained, a city to “impersonate” Rome architecturally and socially. So he  considered Eastern European capitals and also South Africa. Belgrade matched the imagined with the texture and resources that Fiennes needed, because of the extremes of a modern city, with contrasts between urban and poor. So he used as the set, an enthusiastic dilapidated housing blocks of New Belgrade (very ugly part), the open market and the old industrial facilities to contrast with mansions of the rich, modern clubs and restaurants or offices. So the architectural reminder of social extremes is very important set for the play.
Dialogue is all Shakespeare and remained intacked original from 1607. The film recalls a bit on Shakespeare drama done on screen from 90s, Romeo and Juliet directed by Baz Luhrmann. Then again, it seems that Fiennes now follows Kenneth Brannagh’s and Derek Jarman’s footsteps bringing up classical BBC dramas on the screen, because this is actually a BBC drama. The preoccupations with Shakespearean motives is still alive and present on the big screen and no doubt, it requires the top cream of British professionals, to bring life into and bring up old interest for a great Shakespeare play.  Fiennes’ film Coriolanus, happens in modern time, and film-makers probably struggled to establish the level of detail with the cinematic showing. Fiennes though composes well the interplay of character and tense and tiresome narrative part.  Renounced by Rome and disowned by his mother Volumnia Coriolanus turns to his opponent Tullus Aufidius and together they go to destroy Rome. Everyone knows the story, but this time brought by truly excellent production, even if the film is done with very little money.    

Coriolanus, drama already played by Fiennes in a theatre, directed by Johnatan Kent in the year 2000 started to be constructed as the mature idea for the big screen ever since. “Although it is difficult to speak the original text, I was convinced that it was possible to transpose it on film and that idea kept developing in my head,” said Fiennes. The film essentially have the same affect as the theatre play, and is modern version of Shakespeare, no doubt. And at the end, the film is strong and powerful because of a brilliant cast, even though nothing especially drastic and conceptually different was done to the play.

 After the premier on Berlin Film Festival, some film critics even predicted prestigeous awards, even forecasting Vanessa Redgrave  2011s Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. "If everything in Fiennes's film was quite as staggering as Redgrave, we'd be looking at a Shakespeare adaptation for the ages." Well, Fiennes heads to Oscar Nominations tomorrow morning to see well off the future of his first directorial debut Coriolanus.




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