Thursday, March 13, 2014 | 7:00 pm
Every year in the high-security wing at Rome’s Rebibbia prison, professional actors and directors create moving theater with murderers, Mafia capos and other hardened criminals as their actors. This year, well-known theater director Fabio Cavalli is putting on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, a story of over-reaching ambition, betrayal, and brotherhood – not unlike the environment many of his “actors” come from. Cavalli puts the prisoners, many serving life terms, through their paces, and they grow into their parts, transformed by the experience and the surprising relevance of ancient Rome to their lives today in a Roman prison.
As the various scenes are rehearsed throughout the prison, the prisoners reacquire a humanity and identity as they strive to inhabit their roles. Caesar Must Die is a striking film that blends documentary with scripted narration so well it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Directed by the famed Taviani Brothers (Padre, padrone, Night of the Shooting Stars), the film is shot on location in Rebibbia Prison, primarily in stunning black and white, a nod to their early days in Italian neo-realism, encompassing many of the same themes: the common man versus the State, moral consequences and issues of class and regionalism.
Although Caesar must die, it is the film itself that delivers a poignant, unexpected lesson about life.
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