Ralph Fiennes has made a career of portraying intense characters on stage and screen, with his turns as villains in Schindler’s List and the Harry Potter movies especially acclaimed.
Fienens is also a noted Shakespeare interpreter, having achieved on stage success at the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1995 he won a Tony award for his portrayal of Hamlet on Broadway.
It would make sense then that his directorial film debut would be of a Shakespeare play. Coriolanus stars Fiennes as a bitter war hero who after entering the world of politics is banished by the people for his extreme views. The film co-star Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain and Vanessa Redgrave.
Matt’s Movie Reviews asked Ralph Fiennes to talk about this favourite Shakespeare film adaptations.
What are your favourite Shakespeare film adaptations?
The Russian Hamlet by (Grogi) Kozinstev, the Peter Brook King Lear with Paul Schofield, and I would say Lawrence Olivier’s Henry the Fifth and Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet.
What was it about those films that you found worked on the screen?
The Lawrence Olivier I saw at an early age and I think the sheer scale of the battle and the music… just as a child I found very arresting and exciting. It was exciting.
I loved the austerity of the Peter Brook Lear. For me it is the austerity and the minimalism about it which I love.
The Kozinstev Hamlet…it’s just never been as visually and photographically extraordinary.
But to me they all work as films because all of these films, and this includes Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet, visually they have their own language. There not slaves bound to Shakespeare’s text, Shakespeare’s characters and his dialogue.
There is no greater photographically, filmic world which had its own energy, and that’s why I liked them.