Movie Review: How Can Anyone Not Adore the Taviani Brothers’ Caesar Must Die?

How can anyone not adore Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Caesar Must Die? In a scant hour and a quarter, it enlarges your notion of what theater and cinema, what art itself, can do — it dissolves every boundary it meets. Any attempt to pin the movie down reduces it, but this is the setup: A group of prisoners in an Italian maximum-security prison (most with sentences in the teens, some lifers) audition, are cast, and rehearse a production (heavily abridged) of Julius Caesar. Quickly, the roles take over, and we’re watching the play itself.

But reality intrudes — a missed line, a suggestion from the director, a prisoner who breaks off to reflect on the connections between his character’s dilemmas and his own past or present. If that sounds schematic (it does), let me add that there’s little in the way of a one-to-one correspondence between Julius Caesar and the everyday reality of a maximum-security prison. The effect is more suggestive. You’re inside the play and then outside, in and out, until where you literally are doesn’t matter anymore. You’re in a heightened, concentrated space in which every action ripples outward. Read More...


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