Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Director to Adapt Each of Shakespeare's Plays #12 -- JULIUS CAESAR directed by Martin Scorsese

The Plot:

The Roman citizens absolutely love Julius Caesar. There’s even talk about making him king. But Cassius is concerned that Caesar’s growing popularity is a threat to the republic. Brutus, a good friend of Caesar’s, needs more convincing, so Cassius just whips up some ‘evidence’ that supports his conclusion and Brutus goes along. Then here’s my favorite part: not only does Brutus participate in the assassination of Caesar, he shows up at the funeral and gives a eulogy explaining why he was justified in killing him. For a while it seems that the Romans will be swayed, but Antony reminds the crowd that Caesar refused the crown when it was offered and reveals that in his will, Caesar divided up his money amongst all Roman citizens. Hey, Brutus! Scoreboard!

Why Scorsese?

For the man who’s given us some of film’s most memorable gangsters, I suggest a film concerning one of history’s most famous hits. One of the things that I think tends to get overlooked about Scorsese is what a dedicated historian he is. His films may be largely visceral, but they’re frequently backed with meticulous research and extraordinary thoughtfulness. Though the characters in Shakespeare’s play are mostly politicians – can you imagine Joe Lieberman whacking Dick Cheney and then going on Larry King to discuss why – it is not a huge leap to see the similarities to the mentality of gangster culture that Scorsese has so vividly explored. I liked the intelligence with which Scorsese analyzed the roots of American violence in Gangs of New York and also the way in which he challenged us to reconsider the story of Jesus’ crucifixion in The Last Temptation of Christ. Scorsese could bring new vitality and detail to what is already one of Shakespeare’s best historical dramas. Just as long as he doesn’t cast Harvey Keitel as Brutus.

Scorsese films I have seen:

1. The Last Temptation of Christ ****

2. Raging Bull ****

3. Goodfellas ****

4. Gangs of New York ***1/2

5. The Age of Innocence ***1/2

6. Taxi Driver ***1/2

7. Cape Fear ***

8. After Hours ***

9. Bringing Out the Dead ***

10. The Aviator **1/2

11. Mean Streets **1/2

12. Casino **


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