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Caesar Must Die (2013)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 19
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 3,147

My Rating

Movie Info

Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's Caesar Must Die deftly melds narrative and documentary in a transcendently powerful drama-within-a-drama. The film was made in Rome's Rebibbia Prison, where the inmates are preparing to stage Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. After a competitive casting process, the roles are eventually allocated, and the prisoners begin exploring the text, finding in its tale of fraternity, power and betrayal parallels to their own lives and

Dec 24, 2013

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All Critics (46) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (4)

It is almost an impertinence to think that we understand the thoughts of these actors and those in the audience who are relatives and friends. But this is the intriguing privilege that the Taviani brothers have given us.

June 17, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
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A film somewhere between documentary and neo-realist drama.

May 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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There's barely a wasted moment in the film, which runs a brisk 76 minutes and contains no female roles.

March 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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There's an intensity and emotional accuracy to the performances that's just stunning, particularly Striano's Brutus, as he longs for death and release.

March 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
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It's an arresting, playful and moving film ...

February 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Prison theatricals are nothing new in the movies, but Caesar Must Die, a quasi-documentary featuring hardened convicts acting out Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, is in a class by itself.

February 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
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A double hybrid that occupies a space somewhere between documentary and fiction right along the border of cinema and theater.

January 23, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A clever if sometimes mystifying, combination of documentary, invention and post-modernism.

June 6, 2013 Full Review Source:

Destined to lose years in prison, the actors seem to take pride -- and solace -- in their association with something as seemingly immortal as Shakespeare's words.

April 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

As they find issues and themes they can relate to, the action is never remotely static despite the frequent nature of the close-ups and the plastic sword.

March 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post

The problem with the film, which somewhat inexplicably won the Golden Bear at Berlin last year, is that it scarcely transcends the basic novelty of its premise.

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out Chicago
Time Out Chicago

Profoundly moving.

March 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

The juxtaposition of Shakespearean text and prison cell life is a particularly poignant one.

March 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

It is difficult to understand exactly where documentary ends and fiction begins, but the finale, again in colour, of the triumphant first night of the production can't fail to move.

March 1, 2013 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

It's never anything less than interesting, though I felt it didn't quite fulfil its potential, and the repetition of material at the beginning and end is disconcerting.

February 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian

It is uncanny how Italy's film-makers keep failing to nail, or effectively to satirise, their country's strident political shortcomings.

February 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Deeply felt melancholy lingers long after the credits roll.

February 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Delivers a compelling and considered take on immemorial themes.

February 27, 2013 Full Review Source: The Skinny
The Skinny

[It] has plenty of wit and punch, although compared to the best of the medium - Man On Wire, for instance - it sometimes comes off as guileless and clunky.

February 25, 2013 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Audience Reviews for Caesar Must Die

An interesting docufiction that is both an intelligent meta-narrative feat and an important record of a real production - the staging of Shakespeare in a prison. But above all, it shows how Art can have a transforming impact on even the most unexpected of people.
November 15, 2012

Super Reviewer

'Caesar Must Die'. A skillful blurring of documentary and scripted material in this meta, exploratory take on 'Julius Caesar'.

I really liked this. I didn't love it though, the main reason being I didn't feel I got to know the characters, and form that emotional attachment. Your introduction is the casting process, and maybe the lines were *too* skillfully blurred for me to form that attachment as it went along. I wanted them to "break character" for lack of a better phrase more often, and get to know them. No doubt the fourth wall was broken occasionally, but I couldn't follow them on their journey as much as I'd like to have.
June 7, 2012

Super Reviewer

I saw this at the 2013 Cleveland International Film Festival. I loved it! It is partly in color and partly in black and white. It is not a straightforward production of Julius Caesar. It is about the theater process. The actors are real-life incarcerated Italian prisoners. We end up seeing an abbreviated version of the play, since time is spent reading between the lines. We watch some of the auditions. We watch the rehearsals. We watch a couple of the leads as they privately memorize their lines and sort out their characters' motivations. We watch the whole prison get excited for the magic of theater. And then in color, we see bits of the performance staged for the public. The aftermath is used as bookends, and while it doesn't make much sense at the start, it is heartbreaking at the end as we observe the impact theater had on these men who still face confinement. It is well shot and there are moments of tension as well as comedy. We learn in the closing credits that Giovanni Arcuri, who plays Caesar, and Cosimo Rega, who plays Cassius, have both written books. Cosimo was apparently profoundly affected by the experience. Salvatore Striano, who is excellent as Brutus, has since continued acting on stage and in four other feature films.
July 1, 2013

Super Reviewer

"Caesar Must Die" is not the name of a "Spartacus" spin-off.(which I'm also not entirely ruling out by the way) Rather, it is a riveting production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," which is about power and betrayal, performed by a group of convicted criminals in a maximum security prison in Italy.(Of those we meet in the auditions, only a couple are not in their 40's, thus implying these are lifers in more than one sense.) This is not just a filmed stunt, as the claustrophobic environs of the prison are woven seamlessly and subtly into the performance itself, filmed in black and white. Ostensibly, these are just rehearsals which end up taking on a life of their own, as work on the theatre continues. Otherwise, the only segments in color are the play's ending and its triumphant aftermath. As much as the convicts put into the play via their unique interpretations, it could also be said that they get an equal amount out of the experience, as one comments at the end of the movie that after realizing that there is such high art, his imprisonment has become that much harder to bear.
February 25, 2013
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Cäsar muss sterben (DE)
  • Caesar Must Die (UK)
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