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Caeser Must Die

Directed by Paolo Taviani & Vittorio Taviani

Italy, 2012

Cornerhouse, 28 April 2013

Caesar Must Die

This film documents the production of one of Shakespeare’s great tragedies in an Italian prison, the inmates taking the principal roles.

From this description you could easily conjure a documentary that’s worthy, liberal, indulgent – well, think again.  The film is taut and gripping right from the off, when the prisoners step in to audition for the play, and it never loosens its hold.  Indeed, you could justly characterise it as a great screen adaptation of Julius Caesar: and that is the source of the film’s power, the overriding emphasis placed on Shakespeare’s play.

It is true that, in sundry ways, the details of these men’s lives seep into the film; and we see the diminishment in their demeanour as they return to their cells after the realisation of a triumphant performance.  But actually Shakespeare’s words are enough.  The emotional truth the men bring to their performances tells us all we need to know.  They’ve made wrong choices, but they’re human beings:  There but for the grace of God…

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