RALPH FIENNES said that the gritty power struggle displayed in his big screen adaptation of CORIOLANUS was influenced by recent real life social and political upheaval.

The British actor makes his directorial debut with SHAKESPEARE’S violent tale about a headstrong Roman general who seeks revenge on his city after being banished for his extreme views.

RALPH feels that the tragedy remains acutely relevant today, noting that he shot the film in the war ravaged Balkans and that reports of brutal food shortages and citizen led revolutions around the world emerged as he edited the film.

His version is set in modern times, with bloody battle scenes featuring high powered weaponry, civilian rioters armed with cellphones and ubiquitous TV screens providing constant commentary via CNN like news reports — in iambic pentameter.

GERARD BUTLER costars as CORIOLANUS’ sworn enemy TULLUS AUFIDIUS, BRIAN COX portrays his political ally MENENIUS and VANESSA REDGRAVE is CORIOLANUS’ war hungry mother VOLUMNIA.

“This story is always, always relevant,” the actor, whose films include THE ENGLISH PATIENT, QUIZ SHOW and IN BRUGES, said during a day of interviews at a downtown hotel.

The film was shot in Belgrade and includes news footage of a protest against former leader Slobodan Milosevic.

“I chose Belgrade not because I wanted a specific Balkan setting…But when I got to Belgrade I suddenly realized there’s – of course – staring me in the face this history of people in former Yugoslavia. There was all this fantastic footage I could use.”

“Lots of the Serbian actors were saying: ‘This is our history. Your film is what we’ve lived through.”’

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