Caesar Must Die: New York Film Festival 2012

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New York Film Festival 2012: Caesar Must Die

New York Film Festival 2012: Caesar Must Die


A theater audience rises to its feet as the cast of Julius Caesar takes its curtain call. We then rewind back to the beginning, as the actors—all felons in an Italian prison—rehearse their parts and turn Shakespeare’s drama into a riff on jailhouse power plays. The winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, the latest from world-cinema legends Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (The Night of the Shooting Stars) mines the Bard for behind-bars metadrama, purposefully blurring the line between Shakespeare’s staged backstabbing and cell-block skullduggery. If the film’s commentary on the corrupting power of contemporary Roman politics deserves neither overwhelming praise nor burial through dismissal, the brothers’ riff does drive a stake through platitudes about the healing power of art. “This cell has [now] truly become a prison,” laments one player once the performance is over—an indictment that cuts as deep as any shiv.—David Fear

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