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November 05, 2012

Starz Denver Film Festival 2012 - Caesar must Die

caesar must die.jpg

Cesare deve morire
Paolo and Vittorio Taviani - 2012
Adopt Films

The Taviani brothers continue to astonish. Their last film, The Lark Farm, made in 2007, was a sumptuous looking, and devastating account of the genocide of the Armenian community by the Turkish government almost a century ago. Born in 1931 and 1929 respectively, the brothers can still show the youngsters a thing or three about filmmaking and making meaningful work while keeping true to yourself.

At a compact seventy-six minutes, this is a combination of documentary and filmed staging of a group of high security Italian prisoners, rehearsing and performing Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. For many in the group, this is their first encounter with the historical tale. That it story is about loyalty and betrayal, and the death of one man in order to preserve the interests of a group, has its own personal meanings to the actors. Tellingly, Cosimo Rega, the actor who plays Cassius, mentions how Shakespeare's words describe contemporary Rome.

The film follows a six month process from casting to performance, under stage director Fabio Cavalli. The actors are asked to speak using their regional dialects, as well as mannerisms that characterize their regions into their performances. One of the actors has trouble saying a line because it brings back the unhappy memory of the fate of a partner in crime. At one point, Giovanni Arcuri, the actor playing Caesar, starts improvising his lines towards another actor, with who he has a personal grudge, fortunately resolved. The rehearsals start in a small room, but scenes are also played out in the prison courtyard, with other prisoners, behind barred windows, as the Roman crowd.

As for making a film unlike their previous work, in this interview explaining their process, Vittorio Taviani has stated: "To us, making a film means discovering something new we haven't seen or heard of before. What else can I add other than that cinema was invented by two brothers, the Lumiere brothers, and after us we see a series of imitations, the Dardennes, the Coen brothers, so we somehow set the example!". Arcuri and Rega were affected by their participation that they both have published books. As cliched as it may be, the film is a reminder of the genius of William Shakespeare in writing plays that remain both meaningful and adaptable in a variety of contemporary settings. How contemporary? Hopefully to be seen and considered is the similarly titled look at the politics of Thailand in the government banned Shaespeare must Die. Caesar must Die is a document about a group of men shut away from society, discovering their own humanity.

Posted by peter at November 5, 2012 08:01 AM