Coriolanus

Rating: 8/10 
Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler and a movie title with the word, ‘anus’: I mean, how can you go wrong, right? Hence, I strongly suggested among friends that we go and see this film. (Our other choices were Sherlock Holmes and Underworld.) Based on the movie’s synopsis in Wikipedia, I figured it will be something like 300. (Again, Gerard Butler.)

Boy, what a miscalculation it was: not only was it nowhere near 300, but the entire dialogue was in ‘Shakespearean.’ Five minutes into the film, I turned to my friend and offered a veiled apology by pointing out that obvious fact. (They’re smart and witty people; it was just that I know it wasn’t their thing… as it wasn’t mine. If I saw the movie trailer, I would have definitely skipped this. Graciously, my friends went easy on me and didn’t demand their money back.)

The first 30 minutes was a bit disorienting: I knew the dialogue was in English but it might as well have been in French because I couldn’t understand a thing. Thankfully and by some miracle, I eventually got the hang of it, despite the efforts of the simpleminded couple behind us who, in their boredom, decided to provide a running commentary of what was onscreen:

“Uy, naghahasa sya ng kutsilyo.” “Ay, nagpapakalbo sya.” “Ang daming dugo.”

Digression: Why are there people like that? I mean, how can we expect to solve the world’s greatest problems when there are people who cannot be considerate/proper in the simplest terms?

The movie is set in modern times, although, I assume since I haven’t read the play, that the dialogue, names and places are as Shakespeare originally wrote it. I can imagine the English majors having a field day on this one, thinking how the play is adapted to accomodate reality TV, BBC, the Macbook Pro, and even the social media phenomenon, trolls. The film does so wittily, and so it was easier to see the parallelism (or now that I think about it, the lack thereof) between Coriolanus and the modern-day politician.

Coriolanus is a war hero who is nominated for consulship. To be appointed, he must be accepted by the commoners, and to do this, he must pander to their emotions, e.g., show off his battle wounds, make big speeches, etc. His pride, however, prevents him from doing so, and therefore he must accept the consequence of being unpopular to the masses. 

Those scenes in the movie reminded me of the recent debacle in the media, when President Ninoy Aquino wasn’t visible in the aftermath of typhoon Sendong. There were comparisons to his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, who in similar cases in the past, would immediately be on the scene of tragedy, extending her condolences, personally spearheading relief efforts, etc. 

(Interestingly, the sitting President is still enjoying immense popularity based on survey ratings; makes for an interesting discussion.) The film makes a strong case for the two sides, and thinking about current events added color to my viewing experience.

PS: Note how the dialogue was edited in the trailer to make it sound present-day conversational; I noticed the same in the trailer for Midsummer Night’s Dream. Also, I now find it hard to watch Ralph Fiennes without thinking of Voldemort. Vanessa Redgrave is absolutely divine––one of the best performances I’ve seen in a while.
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