Monday, August 27, 2012

Caesar Must Die (2012)

Caesar Must Die • Cesare deve morire (2012)
Caesar Must Die • Cesare deve morire (2012)
Genre: Drama | Documentary
Director: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani
Starring: Cosimo Rega, Salvatore Striano, Giovanni Arcuri, Antonio Frasca, Juan Dario Bonetti
Language: Italian
Duration: 76 min.
Rating: 7.4
Summary:
Follows convicts in their rehearsals ahead of a prison performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
Caesar Must Die is a film from legendary Italian directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. It premiered at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Golden Bear for best film.

Filmed entirely within Rome's maximum security Rebbibia prison, and starring a cast of inmates, some with life sentences for murder and other mafia related crimes, the film is a strange and fascinating blend of fiction and documentary presented in a very cinematic style. On one level it's a very well acted rendition of Julius Caesar, and on the other, a rare glimpse at a group of individuals cast out from society for being dangerous, yet remain just as human as the rest of us.

We follow the actors from casting through to rehearsals and finally to a performance in front of a public audience. Using mostly the prison's cells, corridors, and courtyards as a backdrop, and shot almost entirely in black and white, except for a couple moments when parts of the outside world are involved. It's a clever way of representing the monotony of prison life.

The Tavianis use none of the traditional documentary techniques, no talking head interviews or voiceover, aside from their names and their sentences, not much is actually revealed about these men. Which is both effective and not. It helps to keep things moving at a brisk cinematic pace— Shakespeare adaptations are not my thing at all, yet I was captivated the whole time—but the lack of background makes the dramatic moments where the actors go 'off script' less effective. A few times rehearsals are interrupted because a random line in the play reminds the speaker of something in their lives, and it always comes across to me as scripted reality-TV nonsense.

Still the concept is sound, and the Taviani's, both now in their eighties, prove they haven't yet lost their touch for crafting a moving and thought provoking film, showing us again how art can change the way we look at the world.
Bonjour Tristesse
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Caesar Must Die • Cesare deve morire (2012)

Caesar Must Die • Cesare deve morire (2012)

Caesar Must Die • Cesare deve morire (2012)

Caesar Must Die • Cesare deve morire (2012)

Caesar Must Die • Cesare deve morire (2012)

Caesar Must Die • Cesare deve morire (2012)

Caesar Must Die • Cesare deve morire (2012)

Caesar Must Die • Cesare deve morire (2012)

10 comments:

d_4 said...

It does sound interesting. I'm not a fan of the scripted reality feeling, but I think that can be overlooked. Worth watching out for, I'd say.

G said...

interesting idea for a film... prisoners are often a hidden wealth of talent

Steven S said...

Welcome back BT. I saw this last week and it was the first time I had ever pushed myself to sit through a 'Shakespeare' recital. I was very impressed. The use of the Italian language really bought to life the power of the text, in particular the court yard scene which was mesmerising. Brutus was particularly charismatic and the rest of the prisoners put on a fantastic show, given their inexperience. This could well end up in my end of year top ten. Still not sure yet...

Sam McCosh said...

Great write-up. I really loved this film - it was very powerful and moving.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

It's not that bad, because they don't really dwell on those moments for very long, they just didn't feel at all spontaneous to me, so I felt I had to mention it.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

It is quite interesting. They really dedicate themselves into the roles. I guess it's a form of escape for them.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks Steven. Yes that court yard scene was excellent. And the way they filmed it really captured the feeling of the scene. As a whole though, it feels too much like a novelty to me. Fascinating but not really amazing.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thank you Sam. I didn't love it as much as you, but I agree it does have some really powerful moments.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Can't wait to see this next Sunday. Glad to see you gave this one a pretty high rating. It looks very intriguing but I was afraid it was more sensational but with little substance. Great it's not the case here.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Cool. Will be looking out for your review.

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