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I bought this to make up some class time lost during Hurricane Harvey--I had tried several movies before, but none were really satisfactory, so I gave up. Even Charlton Heston's version was just blah. This is a hard play for students to love. This one, though it does leave out lines here and there, has been the most engaging version so far. The students (despite initial griping about b&w) have become more interested in the action. Brando is, of course, excellent, but every supporting role is excellently cast too! It's pretty enlightening to see John Gielgud as a complex bad-ish guy (Cassius). James Mason is a sympathetic Brutus,
Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2016
Brando plays Marc Antony in this production of Julius Ceasar. his rendition of the "Friends, Romans, countrymen" speech is electrifying. Superlatives are common in reviews of movies but Brando's performance in this movie and with that speech shows that he deserved the accolade as being the greatest actor of his generation. I've watched this movie many times and my impression of his performance has not waned.
Julius Caesar is political treachery plotted out by Brutus and Cassius, played brilliantly by James Mason and John Gielgud respectively, that will rouse the spirit and entertain all Shakespeare fans. It maintains the integrity and thoughtfulness of the play, while conveying deeper emotions thanks to the expressive performances. Marlon Brando is so emotive in his consecutive speeches in the second half. Meanwhile, Mason and Gielgud give passionate performances that carry Julius Caesar for a majority of the run time.
The music is triumphant and the direction is peerless. You get many neat musical cues that fit the atmosphere. The cinematography gives you long still shots for monologues, slow panning shots for Cassius' aside, a grand wide shot for Marc Antony's speech, and many more highly inventive camera choices that engage like no other adaptation of Julius Caesar.
The ONE, the ONLY classic movie version of Shakepeare's Julius Caesar. With all the movie greats - James Mason, Louis Calhern, Greer Garson, Beborah Kerr and a rather young John Gielgud. Exceptionally well done - and it feels like a MOVIE, not like a filmed stage play. Even with all the original Middle English dialogue. The outstanding performance, of course, is watching Marlon Brando doing Mark Antony's speech following Caesar's death. Cast against type yet done very well indeed. I loved it. I had seen it before and I will yet see it again. Certainly there have been many fine Shakespearian performances in movie-version, but this is still my favorite. If you've never seen this one - WATCH IT!
Reviewed in the United States on February 20, 2016
First of all this is Shakespeare's Julius Caesar so expect the language to be Shakespearean. Second you have to like Shakespeare. Third what an amazing cast that was assembled for this "stage production". that is another thing, this is done with minimal sets as attributed to a Broadway show. And I really hate to say this but for all intents and purposes this isn't about Caesar, this is more from the conspirators POV, mostly Brutus. We all know the story so given all of this, if this appeals to you, what an amazing production. Marlon Brando (wow) as Marc Antony, James Mason as Brutus, John Gielgud as Cassius, Edmond O'Brien as Casca , Greer Garson as Calpurnia and Deborah Kerr as Portia.
I gave this film five stars because it "broke the mold" of Shakespeare adaptation and because it is still an entertaining film after all these years. Mankiewicz was the first to understand the difference between staged Shakespeare and the use of film to convey the bard's work. Olivier had previously popularized Shakespeare on film, yet Caesar not only makes far more careful and intelligent use of filmic techniques, but also contrasts the declamatory stage approach to dialogue (Gielgud) with contemporary method acting (a young Marlon Brando). At the time (1953), Brando took enormous heat from British critics because of his fully emotive approach to Antony, yet in retrospect he breathes the real fire of the lines in a way that none of them could have done. There are some odd and now-dated filmic moments: the final battle of Philippi is shown very much in the mode of the 50s Western--as the cavalry comes through the valley, the Indians observe from above, and then shower arrows and spears down on them (here, with the Roman legions coming through the valley, and Antony--a Geronimo stand-in--directs his rebels to attack from above). One of the features of Shakespeare's Roman plays is that the women in these plays are often powerless to affect the behavior of their men, yet see the tragic destinies of the men better than they themselves do--Deborah Kerr (Portia) and Greer Garson (Calphurnia) fulfill their roles here, and while they are not by any means as fully developed characters as they could be, they are greatly improved over the "wooden women" of Olivier's previous films.
Whilst I agree with the other reviewers, my only technical grievance is that the background music is way too loud at times, and threatens to drown out the speaker. I found myself turning the volume control up and down. The picture quality is excellent.