Julius Caesar

"Extraordinary"

Julius Caesar Review


"Caesar! Beware of Brutus. Take heed of Cassius. Come not near Casca. Have an eye to Cinna. Trust not Trebonius. Mark not well Metellus Cimber. Decius Brutus loves thee not. Thou hast wronged Caius Ligarius. There is but one mind in all these men and it is bent against Caesar. If thou beest not immortal, look about you. Security gives way to conspiracy."

Artemidorus's warnings to Julius Caesar, soon to be given dictatorial powers in Rome, falls upon Caesar's deaf -- and soon dead -- ears and the Roman conqueror trundles off to the Senate to be stabbed to death by his best friends. In Shakespeare's play, the rejection of the warning by Artemidorus is more fodder for Caesar's ballooning ego. In Joseph Mankeiwicz's 1953 film version of Shakespeare's classic, Artemidorus's warning is like a howl in the wilderness. For Mankiewicz, adapting and directing during the height of the period of the blacklist, the warning takes on a different context of a McCarthyesque conspiracy to bring down society, a mass madness so potent that even honorable men become embroiled in the hothouse hysteria.

Hysteria is the subtext of the film, complete with thunder crashes and a "strange impatience of the heavens" presaging Caesar's murder and the civil war and destruction that follow his death. This desperate end-of-days tone in Mankiewicz's film takes a choke hold from the opening scenes and never lets go, creating a pestilential mood for the actors to breathe in. And although Mankiewicz hints at ornate Hollywood splendor (foretelling his own massive and bloated Cleopatra of 10 years later -- a film which neatly encapsulates Julius Caesar in an Elizabeth Taylor fever dream sequence), being first and foremost a screenwriter he puts the words before the deeds and his actors seize their moments.

And what actors they are. James Mason as the troubled Brutus, conveying the misgivings of his soul. John Gielgud, in his first American film, is appropriately bitter as Cassius, and a pre-battle argument with Brutus hints at something more -- a lover's spat before they pick out the furniture. Louis Calhern, reconfiguring his Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania bluster from Duck Soup, makes his doomed Caesar into a blustery fathead.

But the true acting mantle in Julius Caesar goes to Marlon Brando, here in his fourth film, following The Men, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Viva Zapata!, and just before the seminal roles in The Wild One and On the Waterfront. With his Marc Antony, Brando burns through the screen and takes no prisoners. For the first half of the film, Brando hangs around the edge of the frame as Calhern, Mason, and Gielgud flex their classical acting chops, lying in wait like a hungry cat waiting for a mouse. But with Antony's funeral oration, Brando cuts loose. In this, the centerpiece of the film, Brando eliminates the middleman. Eschewing performing the scene as an acting oration, Brando actually addresses the crowd he is speaking to, his searing eyes picking out stragglers and cutting them down. Marc Antony toys with the crowd and fashions them to his will, much like Brando, the actor, runs rings around his classically-trained comrades. When Brando exits the scene, having whipped the crowd into a frenzy, Mankiewicz picks up Brando in close-up, a crooked smile on his lips. At that moment, just as Antony has created a Roman civil war, Brando has created a civil war in film acting. Like dead Caesar's corpse, the old acting style would never be seen again.

The DVD also includes a flowery introduction by Robert Osborne and a featurette called The Rise of Two Legends in which John Avildsen, Dennis Hopper and Laurence Fishburne pontificate on Brando's greatness.

Here's here to bury 'em.



Julius Caesar

Facts and Figures

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 4th June 1953

Distributed by: MGM Home Entertainment

Production compaines: De Angelis Group

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 17

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Producer:

Starring: as Gaius Julius Caesar, as Lucius Cornelius Sulla, as Marcus Portius Cato, as Pompey, as Calpurnia, Pamela Bowen as Aurelia, as Vercingetorix, Tobias Moretti as Caius Cassius, Samuela Sardo as Cleopatra, Daniela Piazza as Cornelia, as Julia, as Labienus, Ian Duncan as Marcus Brutus, Kate Steavenson-Payne as Portia, Paolo Briguglia as Marcus Portius, as Marc Antony, Christian Kohlund as Lepidus, Anna Cachia as Wife of Cato, Christopher Ettridge as Appolonius

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.