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Caesar Must Die (2012)
"Cesare deve morire" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  2 March 2012 (Italy)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 3,416 users   Metascore: 77/100
Reviews: 15 user | 125 critic | 20 from Metacritic.com

Inmates at a high-security prison in Rome prepare for a public performance of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar."

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(play), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Cosimo Rega ...
Cassio
Salvatore Striano ...
Bruto
Giovanni Arcuri ...
Cesare
Antonio Frasca ...
Marcantonio
Juan Dario Bonetti ...
Decio
Vincenzo Gallo ...
Lucio
Rosario Majorana ...
Metello
Francesco De Masi ...
Trebonio
Gennaro Solito ...
Cinna
Vittorio Parrella ...
Casca
Pasquale Crapetti ...
Legionary
Francesco Carusone ...
Fortune Teller
Fabio Rizzuto ...
Stratone
Fabio Cavalli ...
Theatre Director
Maurilio Giaffreda ...
Ottavio
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Storyline

In Rebibbia Prison in Italy, its inmate theatre program puts on a well received production of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. The film goes back several months earlier as the coordinators announces the play as the program's production of the year. With that project set, we see its creation as the cast is auditioned and selected for this artistic challenge. As they rehearse, the prisoners, many of whom are long termers and lifers for serious crimes, find that the classic play has both a striking resonance and contrast to their confined lives. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Drama

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Release Date:

2 March 2012 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Cesare deve morire  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The official submission of Italy to the Best Foreign Language Film for the 85th Academy Awards 2013. See more »

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Featured in Film 2014: Episode dated 27 February 2013 (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Shakespeare in Prison
5 December 2012 | by (Denmark) – See all my reviews

Unable to snap up a ticket for this during Berlinale Film Festival (where it also won the grand prize), I've been itching to see Caesar Must Die (Cesare deve morire) for quite some time now. The latest from veteran Italian duo, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (Padre Padrone, Kaos), it's a documentary-fiction hybrid observing the rehearsals and final performance of William Shakespeare's Roman masterpiece 'Julius Caesar'. What makes this movie noteworthy is it's idiosyncratic formalities: the play is being performed from Rome's high security Rebibbia Prison, and the players are it's incarcerated residents: an ensemble cast of murderers, drug dealers and thieves.

The brothers waste no time with needless exposition on the inmates' backstories or crimes. Instead, the pair focus, with brutal proximity, how these criminals connect with the words of "The Bard". Aside from the final, veracious performance, it's all shot in stylised black and white, as we see the production being set up, the rehearsals in the prison courtyard, and the delicate moments these wrongdoers spend behind cell bars. As is often the case with the Taviani's back-catalogue, there's moments filmed in tender close-ups; loading objects such as an empty chair or a wooden sword an implausible subtext.

That meta-narrative carries over to the inmates themselves, and ends up confusing us. Not only are they performers in the Shakespearean sense, it quickly becomes clear that they are being presented as poetical cyphers of their real life criminal selves. It's a shameful attempt at allegory – expressing how the elder words of Shakespeare relate to contemporary penal society, and in doing so removes any sense of empathy we would have otherwise had for the inmates.

Although the "play-within-a-film" gimmick is a good one, it's hardly original (Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York and Canadian filmmaker John Greyson's Lillies are both really worth a look). It's also not the best part of Caesar Must Die. With such astounding performances and beautiful adaptation of Shakespeare's words, one wishes that the Tatvianis abandoned the ostentatious stunts and luscious monochrome display, and instead focused plainly on documenting these ostracised people. An extraordinary, grotesque bunch, who find happiness, solidarity and hope in creative expression.

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