Caesar Must Die

Dir: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani

Stars: Cosimo Rega, Salvatore Striano, Giovanni Arcuri

One of the most powerful things about Caesar Must Die is the realisation that the actors playing the parts are long term prisoners in a maximum security prison. It makes their performances all the more staggering. The Taviani brothers have crafted and masterly docudrama which subtly tackles the issues experienced by inmates through the medium one of The Bard’s most famous plays.

This year’s theatrical production at Rome’s Rebibbia prison is Julius Caesar. The play is cast and the main roles of Caesar (Arcuri), Brutus (Struano) and Cassius (Rega) are eagerly snapped up. As they work through their rehearsals around the prison, it is clear that the text has a lot more resonance with the cast than just being a play, with much of the dialogue as powerful today as when it was written.

Caesar Must Die was a worthy winner of the Golden Bear at Berlin Film Festival last year. The prison scenes are all filmed in black and white as a counterpoint to the colour footage of the actual staging of the play which bookends the movie. The themes of freedom, isolation and friendship are prevalent throughout, with the play seeping into the lives of the inmates and merging with their experiences or real violence. The editing and cinematography keep the film flowing; the major scenes from the play are acted out as is comes to its climax.

Caesar Must Die is never short of fascinating. Shakespeare’s play flows throughout and there’s none of the usual clichés you find in prison dramas. It is 76 minutes well spent watching the action take place through the eyes of men who can empathise with the characters of the tragedy.

Screening now at Showroom Cinema: