By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 15, 2011 at 2:30AM
The Berlin Film Festival is firmly underway, and yesterday saw the first big high-profile premiere of the Berlinale; namely, Ralph Fiennes' adaptation of Shakespeare's "Coriolanus." Debuting yesterday to mostly strong reviews, it looks as though Fiennes' contemporary re-up of the play, originally set in Rome, has come off, with Vanessa Redgrave's performance as the hero's mother Volumnia already gathering early Oscar talk for 2012.
A press release from The Weinstein Company confirms early chatter that the studio have acquired U.S. distribution rights for Fiennes' action-packed tragedy (which certainly seems to help any awards hopes for the film, with the company firmly back on Oscar form after "The King's Speech"), and the film will likely receive at least a platform release before the end of 2011, to qualify it for the awards season.
Furthermore, with the film having unspooled finally, Fiennes is looking to the future, and further directing work and, while he's got "Clash of the Titans 2" and, potentially, the new James Bond film to shoot this year, he's got an idea for what might serve as his sophomore feature, and it's another Shakespeare play. According to The Guardian, Fiennes revealed at a Berlin press conference that he hopes to adapt "Antony & Cleopatra" for the big screen.
Unlike "Coriolanus," Fiennes has never appeared in "Antony & Cleopatra" on stage, but he thinks it's particularly suited for a cinema version. "We have talked a bit about it, though I don't know when it would be. It's 'Antony and Cleopatra;' not only because it's a great love story, but also because it is written very cinematically. It cuts from Egypt, to Rome, to the ocean. In fact, if Shakespeare was alive today, I think he would write very easily for the cinema," the actor/director said.
Obviously, this seems like it'll be a way off and a kernel of an idea at this point though box office returns and critical acclaim for "Coriolanus" could stoke those fires further. Furthermore, Scott Rudin's planning a mega-budgeted 3D version of the story of "Cleopatra," linked to Angelina Jolie and Paul Greengrass, which provides some serious competition. If the Shakespeare version does move ahead, however, it's not a great stretch to imagine Fiennes reteaming with screenwriter John Logan ("The Aviator"), and again taking on the male lead.
By all accounts, Fiennes has made a very successful debut behind the camera, and we're glad to see him moving forward on another Shakespeare project, particularly since fellow-hyphenate Kenneth Branagh seems to have abandoned the Bard for the moment. And if nothing else, Marvel may have found their director for "Thor 2"....
"Coriolanus" will be released later in 2011.