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Kick 'em right in the...

Coriolanus last night, on Netflix.  I truly love modernized Shakespeare productions; I love to see the lengths they go to to adapt the text to a contemporary environment, what they can put on TV news shows and Skype, how they can use an old word to mean a new thing (like the pistols brand-named Sword in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet, allowing the Duke to say "Put up your swords" without silliness.)  Coriolanus is mightily stripped of text, but what remains is really powerfully done.  The war in a seeming Balkan environment is highly realistic (except of course for the commanders personally duking it out with knives) and potent as criticism of heroic manly courage and its consequences -- more than Shakespeare intended, I'd say, who was more conflicted about the values of heroism vs. its destructiveness than we are able to be.  But Fiennes was great, the political scenes were splendidly managed (lots of TV talk-show things) -- though Menenius lost his big speech about the stomach and the body.  The greatest thing though was Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia:  she was, literally, awesome (yes I mean both words).  She also gets the best scenes and the best lines:  "I would the gods had nothing else to do/But to confirm my curses!"  And whnw Menenius tries to get her to go away and sup with him: "Anger's my meat; I sup upon myself/And so shall starve with feeding."  You've never heard that line till you hear her say it.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2013 04:08 pm (UTC)
...except of course for the commanders personally duking it out with knives...

That's not that far from the modern parliamentary punch-up that seems to happen at least once a year!

Nov. 6th, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC)
Looks just like the Tribunes fighting in the Senate! I wonder if this inspired it.
Nov. 6th, 2013 04:19 pm (UTC)
I thought Redgrave really owned this movie, along with Fiennes. I was also fascinated by the homoerotic psychosexual subtext around Coriolanus (a mama's boy) and Aufidius. Is any of that in the play? I've never read it.
Nov. 6th, 2013 04:31 pm (UTC)
It's there if you see it there -- as Fiennes obviously did. There are lines that distinctly support it, when Coriolanus is vowing to be on Aufidius's team, comparing himself to a wife (can't quote exactly). His desperate sort of hints at it too.
Nov. 6th, 2013 05:15 pm (UTC)
"Anger's my meat; I sup upon myself/And so shall starve with feeding." You've never heard that line till you hear her say it.

I was wondering about this film last night. I shall watch it as soon as I can find it.
Nov. 7th, 2013 06:05 am (UTC)
It was scheduled for the Shakespeare class I'm auditing (Marjorie Garber is splendid). I showed up to an empty room on Tuesday -- they'd decided to screen it on the Sunday before, and not told me. Rats.

Nov. 7th, 2013 06:20 am (UTC)
Richard III.
Reminds me of that great cursing lesson:

"Forbear to sleep the nights, and fast the days;
Compare dead happiness with living woe;
Think that thy babes were sweeter than they were,
And he that slew them fouler than he is.
Bettering thy loss makes the bad causer worse:
Revolving this will teach thee how to curse."
Nov. 7th, 2013 11:42 am (UTC)
Re: Richard III.
Wow -- I'd forgotten this -- is this old Margaret speaking to wife of Edward?
Nov. 7th, 2013 12:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Richard III.
Yes! Here's the famous adaption by Loncraine/McKellen - maybe you'll love the aircraft setting ;)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTDkM7wUx-A (from 3:59)

Edited at 2013-11-07 12:04 pm (UTC)
Nov. 7th, 2013 12:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Richard III.
The plane IS gorgeous. i watched the film long ago sort of on and off doing other business and I'd forgotten it. It's really too bad they cut the last two lines -- I guess they seemed unnecessary, but they are the key.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )