'Coriolanus' trailer: Ralph Fiennes gives Shakespeare the 'Hurt Locker' treatment

I have a deep, abiding, oddly specific love for Shakespeare film adaptations that opt to set their play’s action in an updated, anachronistic time period. And I don’t mean films “inspired” by Shakespeare, like West Side Story or Ten Things I Hate About You. I’m talking films that specifically utilize the Bard’s glorious original dialogue, but recontextualize it in new surroundings. The ’90s had a great run of such movies: Baz Luhrmann’s streets-of-LA revision of Romeo and Juliet, Ethan Hawke’s deeply underrated hipster Hamlet, Ian McKellen’s Hitler-inflected Richard III, and Kenneth Branagh’s four-hour Hamlet, which remade the play as a kind of Tsarist-era Russian epic.

So believe me when I say that the trailer for Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus is a genuine treat: Fiennes looks to have converted the play into a Hurt Locker-esque war film, complete with Gerard Butler as a soldier and Brian Cox as a vicious baddie. My advice: Tell your kids it’s an action movie. Then, when you’re walking out of the theater, be all like “Hey kids, so did you like the movie? Enjoy the gore? Find yourself getting invested in the totally cool characters? Well guess what: You just got some culture, bitches. Because that badass war movie was written by William Motha%@#*ing Shakespeare.” Ha ha, kids are so dumb! Watch the trailer:

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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  • Matt

    It would be hilarious, but if the kids were going in thinking this was a reg. movie, they would definitely not like it; a kid brought up on 24, hurt locker and Saving Private Ryan is going to find Shakespeare’s writing and dialogue waaaay over the top. I just don’t think there’s any vantage point/middle ground that today’s generation can find to appreciate Shakespeare – especially in an era when schools barely teach Shakespeare and poetry.

    • Stephen

      Matt, you underestimate today’s youth.

    • dlauthor

      A sentiment shared by old farts since approximately the middle of the 17th century. “Oh, the kids today with their penny dreadful novels/moving pictures/radio shows/television sets/youtube videos/holographic brain transmissions, they can’t understand Shakespeare like we did in MY day …”

      • T.

        Agreed, dlauthor. A point AND a giggle. :)

    • Drew

      “especially in an era when schools barely teach Shakespeare and poetry”

      haha yeah right we read more works by Shakespeare than any other author in high school two years ago. I seriously grew up on 24, Saving Private Ryan, and Band of Brothers and LOVE Shakespeare and his language. The frequently condescending and pretentious attitude that older people have for subsequent generations is unbearably infuriating.

      • itsthequietone

        Seconded like woah. As a Bard-quoting Saving Private Ryan-loving young person who also studied Shakespeare extensively in school, I also protest the ageism represented above.

      • michou

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  • Woot

    The year of Jessica Chastain continues!

  • Chris Price

    Looks good!

  • Monty

    My AP English teacher used to call him “Willy-the-Shake”.

  • abadstroller

    Looking forward to it. Glad Darren Franich referred to Baz Luhrman’s version of “Romeo and Juliet”: I was amazed by the look, the feel, and the performances. In subsequent viewings, I paid more attention to the details and was even more impressed by how Shakespeare’s work was transported into contemporary Los Angeles-type environs. Interested to see what Fiennes’ “Coriolanus” looks like….

  • crispy

    This looks interesting. I’m happy to see Ralph Fiennes with his nose again.

  • West Coast Laura


  • John

    Stop hating on Ten Things I Hate About You!

    • dlauthor

      Hating, how? By pointing out that it doesn’t use Shakespeare’s dialogue? That’s hate to you? You poor delicate flower.

  • harry


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  • JLC

    McKellan’s fascist Richard III was great, and this looks similar. No one brings the pain like Shakespeare.

  • dlauthor

    The image of British riot cops in this trailer is an interesting bit of synchronicity. Wonder if they’re considering a recut of the trailer to downplay those aspects, in the UK at least.

  • Jenz

    I’ve been looking forward to this movie since Ralph anounced he was directing it. After watching the trailer, it looks like it will be well worth the wait.

  • DFSF

    Don’t forget Julie Taymor’s masterful debut film “Titus.” Some of Anthony Hopkins’ best work.

    • crispy

      I don’t believe that movie was set during an updated time period. And also, it’s terrible.

  • Anne

    The trailer looks great, but Luhrmann’s R&J was set in Florida, not California.

  • Jim

    Another good one was Sam Worthington’s “MacBeth” reimagined as a modern gangster tale.

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