Ralph Fiennes – actor, ambassador, Dark Lord – will make his directorial début with Coriolanus, an updated adaptation of the William Shakespeare play of the same name.

The trailer is now online and it looks incredibly promising, boasting as it does a winning ensemble of Britain’s finest.

Starring Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox and Jessica Chastain, John Logan’s screenplay adapts the tale of a banished hero who must ally with a sworn enemy in order to seek revenge on his home city.

The people of Rome are hungry – they cannot afford to eat.  Riots are widespread. Their vitriol turns on Caius Martius (later to be Coriolanus), Rome’s foremost general who despises the people.

Simultaneously, Rome is at war with the Volsces, a neighbouring state which is lead by Caius Martius’s sworn enemy, Tullus Aufidius. When Caius’s outstanding courage secures the Volscian city of Corioles for Rome and the Volscians are defeated, Caius is newly named Coriolanus in honor of his victory. The people’s anger subsides.

His mother Volumnia, who has instilled in him a strict martial code of honor, anticipates Coriolanus being elected ‘Consul’ – a ruling position in the Roman senate. In order to be voted Consul, Coriolanus must secure the people’s support. However, the great warrior is loath to engage in the necessary glad-handing and political canvassing that he sees as artificial and contradictory of his personal code.

Under pressure he relents but with the minimum of civility. The Tribunes, the elected representatives of the people, persuade the masses that they should renege on their votes and refuse Coriolanus the office of Consul. Coriolanus is enraged and his vocal aggression leads to a major riot after which he is banished from Rome.

Alone now, he takes himself 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. Confronted by his greatest enemy, Tullus must decide whether to accept Coriolanus as his warrior in arms and seize the opportunity to defeat an Empire, or to destroy his life-long rival and try to take Rome alone, while in its most vulnerable state…

Coriolanus is scheduled for a limited U.S. release on December 2nd of this year, with a slightly later U.K. release set for January 20th, 2012.