BAFTA Nomination: 'Outstanding Debut by a Director'
Ralph Feinnes

BIFA Winner: 'Best Supporting Actress'
Vanessa Redgrave

The people of Rome are hungry – they cannot afford to eat. They gather to protest and some among them call for the death of Caius Martius (later to be Coriolanus). Caius Martius, the foremost soldier of Rome, despises the people. He confronts them demanding they disperse – “go get you home, you fragments”.

Rome is at war with the Volsces (pronounced “Volskees”). A neighbouring state who are lead by Caius Martius’s sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius. Aufidius swears to kill Caius Martius. The Roman and Volscian armies battle over the city of Corioles. The outstanding courage of Caius Martius secures Corioles in the name of Rome and the Volscians are defeated. Caius Martius is newly named in honour of his victory – Coriolanus

His mother Volumnia, who has instilled in him a strict martial code of honour, anticipates Coriolanus being elected ‘Consul’ – a ruling position in the Roman senate. In order to be voted Consul, Coriolanus has to ask the people for “their voices”. Coriolanus is reluctant to go through the ritual of glad-handing the people in the marketplace – he sees it as humiliating. Under pressure he does it but with the minimum of civility. The elected representatives of the people, the Tribunes, Sicinius and Brutus (who have little power but are skilled bare-knuckle politicians) persuade the people they should renege on their votes (or “voices”) and refuse Coriolanus the office of Consul. Confronted by this news Coriolanus is enraged – and his vocal aggression leads to a major riot.

Coriolanus is banished from Rome and takes himself alone to the city of Antium, the Volscian capital, home to his enemy Tullus Aufidius. Coriolanus seeks out Aufidius – and offers either his life or his services against his parent city, Rome. Aufidius is moved by Coriolanus’ proposition and embraces him as his ally. Together Coriolanus and Aufidius march on Rome prepared to destroy the city.

Volumnia with Coriolanus’ wife Virgilia and his son young Martius go to the Volscian camp to persuade Coriolanus not to destroy Rome. Determined not to give in to his mother Coriolanus attempts to reject her but finally breaks at the sheer insistence of her appeal. He weeps at her feet. Peace is made, but Aufidius sees Coriolanus’ capitulation as a personal betrayal and plans to kill him. Having signed a peace treaty between Rome and the Volscians, Coriolanus is killed by Aufidius and his men.

The Daily Mail

"The work of an accomplished master"

"A triumph"
The Guardian


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