May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"Coriolanus" Known Shakespeare Play, Superb Modern Film Presentation. Surprised.

I usually avert myself from Shakespeare presented in modern times. Happily, I stumbled on this one,  "Coriolanus”. It's the story of Caius Marcius Coriolanus, a war hero returned to Rome. Asked to become Consul, he assents, but has no love for the people. He refuses to lie about his near contempt for them. His political opposition turn the people against him, and he's banished from Rome. He joins with his enemy to sack Rome in revenge.

I was scrolling through some movies, and saw this one, starring Gerard Butler and Ralph Fiennes, directed by Fiennes, and decided to give it a try. I knew this was based on the Shakespeare play, and was surprised to hear them actually speaking Shakespearean English. Love the language. Here's part of the opening scene, Marcius addressing a mob dissatisfied with the state of things. Some of what Marcius says I thought could have been directed at the "Occupy" crowd now. What makes Shakespeare timeless is his understanding and expression of humanity. [Trailer below]

 MARCIUS (General Coriolanus)
Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?
First Citizen
We have ever your good word.
He that will give good words to thee will flatter
Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you,
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no,
Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,
Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
To make him worthy whose offence subdues him
And curse that justice did it.
Who deserves greatness
Deserves your hate; and your affections are
A sick man's appetite, who desires most that
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead
And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust Ye?
With every minute you do change a mind,
And call him noble that was now your hate,
Him vile that was your garland. What's the matter,
That in these several places of the city
You cry against the noble senate, who,
Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
Would feed on one another? What's their seeking?
For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,
The city is well stored.
Hang 'em! They say!
They'll sit by the fire, and presume to know
What's done i' the Capitol; who's like to rise,
Who thrives and who declines; side factions
and give out
Conjectural marriages; making parties strong
And feebling such as stand not in their liking
Below their cobbled shoes. They say there's
grain enough!
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,
And let me use my sword, I'll make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high
As I could pick my lance.
Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
For though abundantly they lack discretion,
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
What says the other troop?
They are dissolved: hang 'em!
They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs,
That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not
Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds
They vented their complainings; which being answer'd,
And a petition granted them, a strange one--
To break the heart of generosity,
And make bold power look pale--they threw their caps
As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon,
Shouting their emulation.


This is a great find, and I highly recommend it. Stream or get the DVD. If you like Shakespeare, language, a good story with a timeless theme, this will satisfy.

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