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Except for the omission of several passages in the original play, this 1970 adaptation of Julius Caesar faithfully retells Shakespeare's account of events surrounding the assassination of Caesar in 44 B.C. The film begins when Caesar John Gielgud is at the height of his power after conquering Pompey "the Great" in a civil war. Important senators worry that Caesar means to become king, diminish their power, and abolish their beloved Roman republic. Two senators, Cassius Richard Johnson and Brutus Jason Robards, hatch an ...

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Jun 19, 2009

A brew of untrammelled barbarism and Rachmanism

The movie weaves various stages of Caesar?s meteoric rise and fall into a single exciting movie. At the same time the movie gives us an insight into the relationship of the Senate with the dictator of Rome. The strife-ridden Roman society and the paramount importance of a strong military at that time can be underscored. It highlights the threats posed to the Roman Empire from its neighbors and pirates at that time. The movie also dwells upon the intertwining of military and political power in the time of a fluid political situation in Rome and the people?s desire for a stable government. It hints at the enormous size of the Roman Empire in Caesar?s time. It gives us glimpses into the workings of Roman society as well as its economy and culture. It can be easily inferred that at that time trade was an intrinsic part of Roman economy. It gives us a peek about the status of women and the gullibility of the general populace in Roman society. Most of this historical movie makes the viewer participate in the history of the contemporary epoch by implicitly stating information.

The film captures the martial spirit and reckless plunder and conquest of the pre-Christian Roman Empire. The movie underlines the pivotal role of army commanders in Roman society in the times of Julius Caesar and prior to that. At this time Rome was ridden with friction with its neighbors. The pirates often captured Roman ships laden with grain and wealth. Rome in 82 B.C. was subjected to protracted warfare. Rome?s boundaries were uncertain and constantly changing. Military generals of foreign countries plundered Rome with impunity and Roman citizens lived in a state of perpetual terror. Rome?s wealth was frittered away in extravagant and destructive military purposes. Fratricidal skirmishes were common. Peace had become non-existent in Rome. Wealthy military despots and senators ruled Rome?s commoners and slaves. The people were so-called indirectly represented by an elitist and selfish Senate that constantly bickered with the dictator and his armies. In reality the majority of the plebeian citizens had little say in the political process.

The movie ends with the murder of Caesar. The movie was well made and captured the spirit, culture, economy, society, and politics of Republican Rome in its entire splendor. The actors have acted out their parts well. The setting and direction of the movie resembles the Roman Empire as told and visualized by historians and archaeologists. The costumes worn by the actors capture the fashion prevailing at that time. However, the movie suffers from lack of sufficient information, so vital in a historical movie to viewers who are not familiar to Roman history. Much of the movie expects the viewer to know and infer information. The movie makes no reference to Caesar?s background and early life before 82 B.C. The movie tells us nothing about Roman history prior to 82 B.C. No information is given about the origins of the Roman Empire. There is no geographical description in the movie describing the size of the Roman Empire and the nationalities, which it had engulfed within it. The movie does not say anything about the items of trade. The movie also gives scanty information about the enemies of Rome. The movie ends abruptly with the death of Caesar and makes no reference to the history of the Roman Empire after Julius Caesar and also the fact that Caesar became the title for Emperor on Julius Caesar?s death. However, despite its shortcomings the movie was enjoyable.

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