Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Julius Caesar (1953)


Dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve, Cleopatra (1963), Sleuth (1972))
Cast: James Mason, Marlon Brando, Louis Calhern, John Gielgud, Edmond O'Brien, Greer Garson, Deborah Kerr
USA, 1953

Seen: March 1 & 6, 2010

Reason to Watch & Review: For the Sword & Sandal Marathon*

Going with a bit of a different feel to the sword & sandals this time round with the 1953 adaptation of the William Shakesphere's play to Julius Caesar. It certainly fits the theme, although the strict drama styling makes it feel very different from all of the other films from teh Sword & Sandal Marathon so far.

Within minutes of the films opening, I was captivated. The language alone was so engaging that sometimes I had to rewind and re-watch a scene. Let me be clear this isn't because it was confusing, but rather that the lines and delivery were so rich that I was holding on to that moment of the performance and staying there instead of continuing to follow along. It was a big reminder that a lot of films now you really feel like you can watch with partial attention and get all you need from it. Not here. Keep focus on the film and you will be rewarded at every turn. A compelling story based in society power structure, leaders and filled with rich and complicated characters. Every line felt like it was addressing so many different levels of information - to us, the viewer, to the character it was being said to, to the speaker themselves. I was blown away but the richness.

The performances here are key to the films success, and I was completely blown away by
James Mason as Brutus. Going in with just an archetypal understanding of Brutus, I felt like I left with so much more - different motivations, desires than I'd never had put together. I was also impressed by Marlon Brando performance as Mark Antony, and it reminded me that I really enjoy a lot of his work from around that time (A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, The Wild One).

In terms of a sword & sandals film, it's mostly of the sandals variety. There is some fighting but it's certainly not the focus. It's focus is really on plotting, strategy, power and revenge for which it handles very well. Although I had almost no expectations going in, I left feeling like I had stumbled onto a beautiful treasure. I'm happy I stretched the category a bit because it would have been a shame to miss this one.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it to fans of historical films, biopics and dramas

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010

* The Sword & Sandal Marathon is a 13 week marathon exploring sword & sandal films in anticipation of the 2010 release of Clash of the Titans (2010)

No comments:

All content on Movie Moxie is written by Shannon Ridler, © 2006 - 2012