From Jail to Prison – An Essay on Caesar Must Die

Note: The following was an essay written for a college course that has since been placed here for archiving.

The adaption of Julius Caesar into Caesar Must Die brings with it a wide variety of artist choices, from the casting of real-life criminals for the majority of the roles to the use of black-and-white film in all scenes except for the scenes showing the play being acted out. Yet the most stand out moment, one that summarizes the movie’s own thesis on Shakespeare’s play and what it says about ignorance and retrospective, is the final line delivered by Cosimo Rega, who plays Cassius, “Since I got to know art, this cell has become a prison.” (Caesar Must Die)

This statement in many ways reflects an idea that develops in the later stages of the play. When the two are combined, I put it this way: Since I killed Caesar, I realized Rome had always been broken.

Cover of Caesar Must Die, courtesy of Rai Cinema, La Talee, and Stemal Entertainment

The final words of the film are a nail in the coffin for a comparison of prison and Rome that begins early in the film with the introduction of the cast, made entirely of real-life criminals. The man who plays Julius Caesar is in for seventeen years for drug trafficking. Brutus has 14 years for multiple associations with a major crime family. Cassius has a life sentence for murder, among other things.

As Cosimo realizes the nature of his imprisonment through art, so does his character and fellow conspirators realize the nature of their own nation as they combat tyranny. They were all prisoners in the political prison of Rome long before Caesar’s heirs chased them down. 

This ‘before and after’ can be shown in the way the conspirators decide to spare Antony, “Our course will seem too bloody… for Antony is but a limb of Caesar.” (II.i.162-165), compared to Cassius’s call to his hunters, “Come Antony and young Octavius… for Cassius is aweary of the world: hated by one he loves, braved by his brother, checked like a bondman” (IV.iii.92-96). The play’s conspirators go from feeling they can contain the rot in Rome to one man, to realizing they have been exiled by a Rome completely controlled by that rot.

This realization is mirrored again in a scene near the half way mark of the film, when the actor who plays Caesar calls out the man playing Lucius in the middle of his persuading of Caesar to go to the senate despite bad omens. The manipulative nature of the scene has revealed the man’s true nature to ‘Caesar’, who proceeds to get into a fight with him.The actors themselves realize the world around them scene by scene as they are immersed into the world of the play.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The choices directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani make in their closing scene reveal a lens one can use to view both Shakespeare’s work and the reality of Roman history. The Tavaini brothers seem to agree with the idea many modern historians champion; the Republic fell long before Caesar’s body went cold. As Cassius and Brutus realize their doom in the hands of an already damned Republic, Cosimo Rega realizes, through art, that his life has been truly wasted.

He chose to be part of this play to escape the realities of his life sentence, but in the end only learned to understand his permanent jailing in a more permanent way because of said play. The irony of this mixture of reflection and ignorance is one that exists in Julius Caesaritself, to the detriment of all involved.

Works Cited

Caesar Must Die. Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani. Distributor, 2012. https://                                     www.amazon.com/Caesar-Must-Die-Antonio-Frasca/dp/B00HAN05WS/                                   ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519501961&sr=8-1&keywords=caesar+must+die.

“Julius Caesar.” The Norton Shakespeare, by William Shakespeare et al., Third ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2016, pp. 1685–1749.

Venezuelans Abroad (of the Week) – November 4th – 10th

Yeferson Soteldo: Santos 2-1 Avai, Santos 3-0 Goias

As with last week, Soteldo’s Santos side continued to impress this week with a pair of wins over Avai and Goias. Soteldo played the first 65 minutes of the win over Avai, playing well but not standing out as much as his fellow attackers. Soteldo had a fantastic second game, scoring twice and assisting a goal against Goias.

His first goal came after a cross into the box was deflected out to the edge of the 18 yard box. Soteldo hit the ball with a beautiful volley shot and sent it rocketing into the far upper corner, marking one of his best goals since joining Santos.

The second goal was a beautiful tap in from an arching Marinho cross, with the short-of-stature Venezuelan outrunning his marker and smashing the ball home to seal the result.

Soteldo and Santos have been on a roll, with the club securing its fourth straight win, having not lost in five. Soteldo now has four goals and an assist in his last three matches, a strong output for the Venezuelan who has eight goals this season and is the club’s tied for second highest scorer with Carlos Sanchez (8), while both are behind Eduardo Sasha (12).

Romulo Otero: Atlético Mineiro 2-0 Goias, Atlético Mineiro 0-0 Cruzeiro

The Brazilian glory wasn’t just for Soteldo, as fellow Vinotinto player Romulo Otero impressed with Atlético Mineiro and helped them see out a win and a draw in the top flight.

Playing 89 minutes of the win over Goias, Otero was an active part of the attack despite not scoring or assisting. The Venezuelan completed 24 accurate passes midweek to help Atlético reach 39 points.

Facing 16th place Cruzeiro on the weekend, Otero aided his side to a 0-0 draw which saw them continue their positive form and wrap up a double match week of action without conceding a goal.

Oh and it was his birthday on the 9th, feliz cumpleanos Rómulo! The Venezuelan turns 26 this year. What better way to celebrate than all further solidifying Copa Sudamericana football for your club next season?

Mario Rondón: Cluj 1-0 Rennes, Cluj 0-0 Bucuresti

The veteran Vinotinto striker had an eventful, if somewhat imperfect, week. He played the last 20 minutes of Romanian side Cluj’s Europa League tie with Rennes. He didn’t just play, however. Rondón scored a brilliant header in the 87th minute to all but cement Cluj’s spot in the knockout rounds.

The striker did, however, get sent off in the 90th minute for a hard foul on Joris Gnagnon. Overall, it was a good show for the striker, who had a memorable Thursday and gave his club a vital 1-0 win.

Cluj are currently at the top of the table in Romania and continued their campaign with an away draw against Dinamo Bucuresti. Rondón started the game as the lead striker. While no goals came his way, the point earned helps Cluj maintain a 2 point league in the Romanian top flight.

Tomas Rincon: Torino 4-0 Brescia

El General helped Torino to a triumphant 4-0 win over Brescia, who are currently missing the injured Jhon Chancellor at the back. Rincón didn’t partake in the goals, but the resulting clean sheet was a welcome sign that Torino’s defense is stabilizing, having struggled for over a month with poor results. The club had not won a match since late September, finding solace in draws with Cagliari and Napoli in October.

Torino will need to get back on track soon to remain top contenders for the upper half of the table and this weekend’s result will be a major factor in their momentum building operation. With a tough away match against Inter coming next weekend, Rincón and company will need to stick to their best performances to pull points from the title contenders.