Julius Caesar: Shakespeare Vs Burge Essay, Research Paper
Julius Caesar is a tragic play by William Shakespeare, the most famousdramatist of all time. In this essay, I will be comparing Shakespeare s originalversion to Robert Furnival and Stuart Burge s film adaptation. Despite a goodeffort, the film version of Julius Caesar just doesn t compare to Shakespeare. The 1970 movie Julius Caesar, with a better job of casting and direction, could have been a great adaptation of the Shakespeare classic. Had the casting director casted the right actor for the part instead of casting the most famous one, it would have drastically improved the movie. For Instance, Jason Robards, who has won two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor for his Roles in All The President s Men and Julia, was a wooden, lifeless person posing as Marcus Brutus, the play s main character. During Act II, Scene i, when Portia is wondering what Brutus is doing up at such a late time of night, Robards says the lines O ye gods, Render me worthy of this noble wife! without any life whatsoever, adding to the dullness and lifelessness of the movie. Charlton Heston, another great, Oscar-winning actor, poorly portrayed the part of Marc Antony, Caesar s loyal friend and Senator, for a second time, having portrayed him in the 1950 version of the film. I must admit that Heston did a very good job of delivering Caesar s eulogy, but that wasn t enough to make up for the rest of the movie. Charlton Heston is a very good actor; however, he was too old to play the part of Antony. Antony was supposed to be young and lively, but Charlton Heston was neither.Sir John Gielgud, who portrayed the ill-fated Julius Caesar and also portrayed Cassius in the 1953 version of the film, looked and acted the part very well. Overall, his performance was pretty decent, but he completely massacred the lines Et tu, Brute? Then fall Caesar . And it’s the most essential part of the role of Caesar. The line “Et tu Brute?” is supposed to be said in shock. Brutus is one of his best friends, and Caesar turns to him after he stabs him, and asks his best friend why he has killed him. It is one of the most powerful parts in the entire play, and Gielgud just says it like it is any other line. He says it in two parts and neither of them concludes with a question mark or has any kind of feeling in it. Which is basically what this film is lacking in, feeling.The movie also cut out many scenes that should have been left in. For instance, in Act I, Scene i, they cut out part of the conversation between Flavius, Marullus, and the Cobbler, and also the first part of the scene, where they talk to the carpenter. Cicero, one of the most famous of all ancient Romans, was essentially swept under the rug in the movie. They cut out all of his speaking lines, and only showed his face in the movie three times at the most. They also cut out the part where Portia says I have made strong proof of my constancy, Giving myself a voluntary wound Here in the thigh; can I bear that with patience, And not my husbands secrets? and then proceeds to stab herself in the thigh.While on the topic of unnecessary editing, I should mention that the editors cut from Act I, Scene iii, the entire conversation in which Casca is describing the omens he has seen, in which he says A common slave- you know him well by sight- Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn Like twenty torches joined, and yet his hand, Not sensible of fire, remained unscorched to Cicero. They also cut out part of Cassius s lines when he was telling Brutus about his experience rescuing a very tired and exhausted Julius Caesar from the torrential current of the mighty Tiber, when he was trying to get Brutus to join in with him in the conspiracy to kill Caesar.
On the other end of the spectrum, the movie had its good points. The scenery in the film was excellently done. They put a lot of effort into making it look like you were actually in Rome in 44 B.C. The costume design was also very well done. The costumes were excellent imitations of ancient Roman style, having the same colors and textures you would imagine. The movie also had an excellent supporting cast. Richard Johnson, who played the role of Caius Cassius, the sneaky, conniving, leader of the conspiracy to kill Caesar, was excellent for the part. He acted exactly how I would think Cassius would act, and with the exception of the scruffy-looking beard, looked like I thought Cassius would look. Robert Vaughn, the actor who portrayed Casca also played a very convincing part. Despite her unbelievably ugly appearance, Jill Bennett portrayed the role of Calpurnia, Caesar s loving wife, quite well actually. I was somewhat surprised at her acting ability in Act II, Scene ii, when she has a terrible dream foreseeing Caesar s death, and tries to persuade him to stay at home instead of going to the Capitol. The movie was a fairly decent interpretation of the classic Shakespeare tragedy; however, it could have been much better. The producers could have made this movie better by following the text a little more closely, and getting actors who could put more feeling into the part. For instance, in the 1953 version of Julius Caesar, Marlon Brando in his younger years played a very convincing part of Marc Antony, and was nominated for an Oscar; however Charlton Heston s Marc Antony received only jeers. And might I say, that all his part gets from me is a jeer. Shakespeare intended for well trained, well directed actors to be playing the important characters in his plays, but in this movie, no matter how good of an actor you were, you would not have gotten much out of Director Stuart Burge, who in my opinion, was the main reason the movie was not as good as it could have been. Maybe if Metro Goldwyn Mayer would have hired Cecil DeMille or Francis Ford Coppola to do the directing, the movie Julius Caesar would have been better. So to sum it all up, the 1970 version of Julius Caesar from Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) is a decent movie, but it is not the same caliber as the Shakespeare play. But if you don t want to have to read the play to know what happens in it, this movie provides a good basis for that, since it pretty much stays with the context of the play. But in my humble opinion, even though I don t like to read all that much (and I love to watch movies), I thought Shakespeare s play was much better than this movie. Although watching the movie does provide you with a picture of what is going on, watching a movie based on Shakespeare is never the same as watching or reading one of his plays. So if you plan on watching this movie, let me recommend to you that you at least read the play first, so that you can judge for yourself: Which one is better, Burge s movie, or Shakespeare s play?