Monday, April 1st, 2013

Caesar Must Die

Shakespeare’s play ‘Julius Caeser’ about the Dictator who was murdered by by a gang of conspiring Senators who wanted to stop him running Rome as if he were King was the most perfect choice to be performed by a Prison drama group.  Especially this one in Rebibbia Prison High Security Wing outside Rome which comprises of a rough bunch of inmates most of whom are serving life sentences for a variety of very serious crimes who found they could relate to the plot a lot more than they could have ever imagined.
The veteran Italian filmmaking Taviani Brothers take on the project of producing the play and also making a film of the whole process from start to finish.
Near the beginning of the movie each of the prisoners who want to take part are seen auditioning in close up : it’s totally captivating watching these murderers and drug traffickers put such raw emotion into their five minutes in front of the director to ensure that they  are picked.  Once the play is cast and they start rehearsals in earnest, they all have to make use of any free spots in the Prison as the theater is still being re-furbished. This in in fact adds to the intensity of the drama especially as so much of it is filmed in black and white.
Even in the early run throughs all the performances are electrifying and frankly its nigh on impossible at times to convince one’s self that not only are they not professional actors but are in fact illiterate criminals. One of them, Salvatore Striano a former inmate who came back to play Brutus, is so spell-bindingly wonderful that I even felt the tears swell up at one moment.
I’m sure Shakespearean purists will shudder at the liberties that the Taverinis (and their collaborator Fabio Cavalli who also played the director on screen) took with the text, but I have never ever seen such a exciting version of the play.  The one very sad note is after their triumphant final performance they are led back to be locked up in their solitary cells for the rest of their lives.
It deservedly won the prestigious Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival  ….. go see this ‘murder must foul’ it is a remarkable unique movie that I promise will totally enthrall you.

Posted by queerguru  at  20:05




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