Julius Ceasar (1953)

Reid, 6. December 2007, 20:25

Dir. Joseph Mankewiscz
Starring: John Gielgud (Cassius) James Mason (Brutus), Marlon Brando, (Marc Antony), etc.
6/10

There’s a lot of great lines in this play, but the score reflects more of the acting and casting. I don’t recall who played Julius Ceasar, but he didn’t have the gravitas and charisma that I would expect for Ceasar. Granted, it’s a small part, but whether we believe this was a great, admirable person will impact the power of the great funeral speech later on.

I was curious to see Brando in a Shakespearean film, given his renown for improvising and method acting. He does a fine job here, and harnesses his ferocity in the funeral speech to good effect, not making taking it over-the-top. On the other hand, I was less impressed with Gielguld. I thought his acting was too theatrical and affected. There are other moments that I think the filmmakers didn’t really do a convincing job. For example, I was curious to see if they would be able to depict subtlety and complexity in Brutus’ character. I didn’t think Mason was convincing in the way he arrived at his decision to kill Ceasar. I also didn’t think the filmmakers captured the conflict in Brutus between his respect for Ceasar and protecting the state.

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