Review: Caesar Must Die
Murder and Courage
18.10.2012 - The Vittorio Brothers (Padre
Padrone, 1979 and Night of the Shooting Stars, 1984)
have proven yet again that their genius has not been lost. Their
imagination, creativity and talent are evident in their new film Caesar Must
Die. The extraordinary screenplay tells the story of a
group of prisoners working on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
- a fresh and vibrant take on a classic. They are men who are
outcasts in Italian society, identified by the legal system as
criminals, mobs, rapist and killers; however for the Taviani
brothers they are naturally born actors.
They are inmates at Rome's Rebebbia penitentiary, which known
for its high level of security for those facing the penalty of life
behind bars. Many of them will never see the outside world,
due to the danger they impose on society. The directors bring to
light important questions: does having prisoners behind bars negate
their humanity? And how much do they lose of their emotions, pride,
and hope? Are the endless mundane days spent between the walls of
prison enough to destroy their souls?
The selected inmates who perform the brothers' and Fabio
Cavalli's creative adaptation of Shakespeare gave the filmmakers a
platform to examine and reflect on the realities of the imprisoned
and isolated entities, and their ability to hypothetically surpass
the confined space surrounding them. They are able to do that by
shifting from scenes in colour and then shifting to the theatrical
performance depicted in black and white.
This combination of cinema and theatre is a superlative example
of artistic creativity, producing a visual masterpiece about
friendship, betrayal, treachery, oppression and conspiracy. It's
not what Shakespeare had envisioned; but more of the prisoners' own
depiction, and all the more powerful for it.
Upon receiving the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International
Film Festival, Pavlo Tiviani said "We told the prisoners that they
have the choice to use a pseudonym, and to make up a fake persona.
But no one complied, so they all stuck with their real names and
life story. They knew the film would be publicly screened, and they
saw this as an opportunity to vent out and scream: We are here and
Ziad Al Khuzai