Coriolanus (film)

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Coriolanus (2011 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRalph Fiennes
Written byJohn Logan
Based onCoriolanus
by William Shakespeare
Produced by
CinematographyBarry Ackroyd
Edited byNicolas Gaster
Music byIlan Eshkeri
Distributed byLionsgate[2]
Release dates
  • 14 February 2011 (2011-02-14) (Berlin[3])
  • 20 January 2012 (2012-01-20) (U.K.)
Running time
123 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$7.7 million[4]
Box office$2.4 million[2]

Coriolanus is a 2011 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus. It is directed by and stars Ralph Fiennes as the title character, with Gerard Butler as Tullus Aufidius, Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia, and Brian Cox as Menenius.[5] This is Fiennes' directorial debut.[6] It places Shakespeare's original text and plot into a contemporary, pseudo-Balkan setting (filmed in Serbia and Montenegro), reminiscent of the Yugoslav Wars.[7]


In Rome, riots are in progress after stores of grain are withheld from citizens and civil liberties are reduced due to a war between Rome and neighbouring Volsci. The rioters are particularly angry at Caius Martius, a brilliant Roman general whom they blame for the city's problems. During a march, the rioters encounter Martius, who is openly contemptuous and does not hide his low opinion of the regular citizens. The commander of the Volscian army, Tullus Aufidius, who has fought Martius on several occasions and considers him a mortal enemy, swears that the next time they meet in battle will be the last. Martius leads a raid against the Volscian city of Corioles and during the siege, with much of Martius's unit being killed, Martius gathers reinforcements and the Romans take the city. After the battle, Martius and Aufidius meet in single combat, which results in both men being wounded but ends when Aufidius' soldiers drag him away from the fight.

Martius returns to Rome victorious and in recognition of his great courage, General Cominius gives him the agnomen of "Coriolanus". Coriolanus's mother Volumnia encourages her son to run for consul within the Roman Senate. Coriolanus is reluctant but he eventually agrees to his mother's wishes. He easily wins the Roman Senate and seems at first to have won over the commoners as well due to his military victories. Two tribunes, Brutus and Sicinius, are critical of his entrance into politics, fearing that his popularity would lead to Coriolanus taking power away from the Senate for himself. They scheme to undo Coriolanus and so stir up another riot in opposition to him becoming consul. When they call Coriolanus a traitor, Coriolanus bursts into rage and openly attacks the concept of popular rule as well as the citizens of Rome, demonstrating that he still holds the plebeians in contempt. He compares allowing citizens to have power over the senators as to allowing "crows to peck the eagles". The tribunes term Coriolanus a traitor for his words and order him banished. Coriolanus retorts that it is he who will banish Rome from his presence: "There is a world elsewhere".

After being exiled from Rome, Coriolanus seeks out Aufidius in the Volscian capital of Antium and offers to let Aufidius kill him, to spite the country that banished him. Moved by his plight and honoured to fight alongside the great general, Aufidius and his superiors embrace Coriolanus and allow him to lead a new assault on the city, so that he can claim vengeance on the city which he feels betrayed him. Coriolanus and Aufidius lead a Volscian attack on Rome. Panicked, Rome sends General Titus to persuade Coriolanus to halt his crusade for vengeance; when Titus reports his failure, Senator Menenius follows but is also shunned. In response, Menenius, who has seemingly lost all hope in Coriolanus and Rome, commits suicide by a river bank. Finally, Volumnia is sent to meet with her son, along with Coriolanus' wife Virgilia and his son. Volumnia succeeds in dissuading her son from destroying Rome and Coriolanus makes peace between the Volscians and the Romans alongside General Cominius. When Coriolanus returns to the Volscian border, he is confronted by Aufidius and his men, who now also brand him as a traitor. They call him Martius and refuse to call him by his "stolen name" of Coriolanus. Aufidius explains to Coriolanus how he put aside his hatred so that they could conquer Rome but now that Coriolanus has prevented this, he has betrayed the promise between them. For this betrayal, Aufidius and his men attack and kill Coriolanus.



The film was produced on a budget of US $7.7 million. It was filmed in Belgrade and other areas of Serbia using many locals as extras,[4][10] as well as Montenegro and the UK.[11][12]


The film premiered in Competition at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival on 14 February 2011[3] and it opened the 2011 Belgrade International Film Festival.[13][failed verification][14] On 2 December of that year, it opened in New York City and Los Angeles.[15] As of February 2012, it has not yet received a wide U.S. release. However, the film has been shown on a limited basis in other large US cities, such as Chicago. It received a full UK cinema release on 20 January 2012 after premiering at London's Curzon Mayfair cinema on 5 January.[16]


Critical response[edit]

Coriolanus received positive reviews. It holds an approval rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 151 reviews, with an average rating of 7.38/10. The website's critical consensus states: "Visceral and visually striking, Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus proves Shakespeare can still be both electrifying and relevant in a modern context."[17] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 79 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[18]

Katherine Monk of The Vancouver Sun gave the film a rating of 3.5 out of 5, stating that "Coriolanus not only finds all the contemporary parallels, it reiterates the tragedy of the endlessly exploited patriot who hopes to earn love at the end of a barrel".[19] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote in her review, "Mr. Fiennes has made smart choices here, notably by surrounding himself with a strong secondary cast".[15]


The film was nominated for Golden Berlin Bear award at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival.[3] Ralph Fiennes was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer at the 65th British Academy Film Awards.

Home media[edit]

Coriolanus was released by Anchor Bay Home Entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States on 29 May 2012. Both home media formats of the film contain director commentary with Ralph Fiennes and a behind-the-scenes featurette entitled The Making of Coriolanus.[20] The film was later released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom by Lionsgate Films on 4 June 2012, containing the same director commentary audio track but replacing the Making of… featurette with Behind The Scenes of Coriolanus with Will Young.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Coriolanus (2012)". British Film Institute.
  2. ^ a b "Coriolanus (2012)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Programme 2011". Berlinale 68. Berlin International Film Festival. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  4. ^ a b Maher, Kevin (4 February 2012). "Ralph Fiennes peers outside the hurt locker for Coriolanus". The Australian. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  5. ^ Fiennes, Ralph. "Coriolanus (2011)". IMDb. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  6. ^ Relax News (18 March 2010). "Ralph Fiennes makes directorial debut in Serbia". The Independent. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  7. ^ "Coriolanus – review". the Guardian. 22 January 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  8. ^ Dang, Simon (11 March 2010). "Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus Finalizes Cast For Serbian Shoot Next Week". The Playlist. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  9. ^ a b c Wiseman, Andreas (31 March 2010). "Why Coriolanus Matters". 30 Ninjas. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  10. ^ Sulcas, Roslyn (25 November 2011). "A First Plunge into Directing Is Hardly Routine". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  11. ^ French, Philip (22 January 2012). "Coriolanus – review". The Observer. Guardian News and Media. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  12. ^ Queenan, Joe (19 January 2012). "Coriolanus: the grump with the dragon tattoo". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Belgrade film festival closes, Ralph Fiennes' movie opens 2011 FEST". The Earth Times. 28 February 2010. Archived from the original on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  14. ^ "Ralph Fiennes begins filming directorial debut in Belgrade". Monsters and Critics. 10 March 2010. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
  15. ^ a b Dargis, Manohla (1 December 2011). "He's the Hero of the People, and He Hates It". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Coriolanus". UK Cinema Release Dates. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Coriolanus (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Coriolanus Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  19. ^ Monk, Katherine (19 January 2012). "Film review: Fiennes finds heart of Bard's Coriolanus". The Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  20. ^ Katz, Josh (15 March 2012). "Coriolanus Blu-ray". Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  21. ^ "Coriolanus – Blu-ray and DVD details". Chris and Phil Present. 3 May 2012. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2015.

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