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Fine Performance by Heston but I prefer the Brando version
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Charlton Heston does an admirable job as Marc Antony in this 1970 version of Shakespeare's play. Certainly you will come away from this film wishing he had performed more Shakespeare on film. However, I must admit a strong preference for Marlon Brando's performance in the same role in the 1953 version of "Julius Caesar," and especially the funeral scene where the performance of the mob is equal to that of the actor in the pulpit. It would have been equally worthwhile to see Brando attempt more of the Bard as well.I also find that across the board the acting is slightly better in the earlier version. In this color version it is strange to see Jason Robards, Jr., who made his reputation performing the works of Eugene O'Neill on the stage, flounder so badly with Shakespeare, and I have to admit his performance gets in the way of my enjoyment of this film. Of the other actors it is interesting to see John Gielgud take on the title role since he played the lean and hungry Cassius in the earlier version, a joy to see Diana Rigg nail her significant scene as Portia, and a bit disconcerting to see so many actors who would become television stars in the years to come (e.g., Richard Chamberlain, Robert Vaugh and Carroll O'Connor). I also prefer Joseph L. Mankiewicz's direction of the 1953 film to the work of Stuart Burge in this version. Mankiewicz also had the advantage of Academy Award-winning art direction and set decoration, which I really think overcomes the fact the later version is in color. If you are screening the entire film for students or focusing just on Antony's funeral oration, by either standard I really believe you are better served with the earlier film."
One of the few good movie versions of a Shakespeare play.
Curtis Crawford | Charlottesville, VA United States | 09/05/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Much better than the earlier Julius Caesar, which starred Marlon Brando as Mark Antony and James Mason as Brutus. In this version, Jason Robards as Brutus is admittedly an embarrassment, but the rest of the cast is quite strong. The delivery of Antony's funeral oration by Charlton Heston is brilliant, powerful, well-paced, the dramatic high point of the movie. Richard Johnson as Cassius, John Gielgud as Caesar, Robert Vaughn as Casca and Diana Rigg as Portia are fine actors, with full dramatic presence, at home in Shakespeare's language. Brief parts, like the soothsayer's and the cobbler's, are memorably played. The screenplay omits two short passages that are important to the plot: (1) Cassius' avowal in the first act, after his attempt to persuade Brutus to oppose Caesar, that if their positions were reversed and he, Cassius, stood as well with Caesar as Brutus does and Brutus made a comparable appeal to him, he would certainly not listen. (2) Immediately after the assassination, a promise by Brutus to Antony's servant of safe conduct for Antony, who thus knows when he comes to the Capitol and weeps over Caesar's body, challenging the conspirators to kill him also, that he is in no danger of their doing so."
What do Moses, Ben-Hur, and Antony have in common?
bernie | Arlington, Texas | 06/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What do Moses, Ben-Hur, and Antony have in common? Answer: They all look like Charlton Heston. If somehow you missed the play or the history, basically Julius Caesar let his status go to his head and is about to take on the role of emperor. It is up to a handful of Noble Romans to see that this does not happen. The play is about these individuals, their individual purposes and what happens to them after the attempt to stop him. The focus is on Caesar's right arm (Mark Antony).
This is a 1970 rendition of Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar" that is well adapted for the screen. Hence the characters are well known contemporaries. You will notice the major players and might miss some of the others such as Preston Lockwood (Trebonius) who played the Judge in "Strong Poison" ASIN: B000062XDY. With many movies the actor out shine the character and totally changes the emphasis of the story. However this version is well done with maybe the exception of Jason Robards (Brutus) who sometimes seems like Jason Robards playing Brutus at other times he is quite exceptional. Diana Rigg (Portia) who looks like a little girl is the only person that sounds like she is speaking in meter. Everyone speaks clearly and pauses long enough for you to think before moving on. Facial expressions are important to the story and they do not look like they are yelling at you (except in speeches).
You will notice that the back ground music is also of 70's vantage and is used to emphasize certain scenes. However the volume is not so high that you can not hear the clear pronunciation of the lines. Also the costumes made with satin are distracting. At one point Antony looks like Carol Burnett when she was wearing a curtain and left the rod in.
As the play proceeds you will be so wrapped up in it that you will not care about the little differences in form and be totally absorbed in the film. There may be better versions and/or more favorite versions but that doe not make this version any less worth having.
Julius Caesar ~ Marlon Brando
Jason Robards at his worst.
Spanish Jack | Lexington, MA | 03/15/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"One of the curiosities of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" is that the main character is not "Julius Caesar", who is killed early in the play, nor Marc Antony, who has by far the best and most famous speech - "Friends,Romans, countrymen, ...".
The central character is Brutus, the "noblest Roman of them all", who must balance his his duty toward Rome against his loyalty to Caesar. Brutus is a follower of the Stoic philosophy and so tries to achieve virtue by using his reason to choose and follow noble goals, rather than being lead by his emotions. It seems that the director of this movie seeks to convey this idea by having Jason Robards, a highly skilled actor, deliver all Brutus's lines in a bored flat undertone. I wonder how they persuaded him to do it?
"Don't act Jason. Trust us. Just read the lines off slowly like you never saw them before and you don't care a pin. It'll be great.!"
To say this completely spoils the movie is an understatement. Mr. Spock has a wider emotional range. They would have done better and saved money by having Brutus played by a flashing blue light and the guy who did the voice of the HAL 9000.
When Brutus is off screen the movie is fine. Heston is surprisingly good. Gielgud is great. It is sort of a pity that the movie is in color because it makes it harder to ignore the poor costumes, the cheap sets, the worst fake beard in the history of cinema. If you want to see a much better film version, there is the classic black and white version in whcih James Mason and Sir John Gielgud make a superb pair as Brutus and Casius, and Marlon Brando gives a chilling Antony.
As for this one, if someone gives it to you as a present, by all means look at it first before you donate it to the public library."
Lead Performance Rotten as Hell
Kevin Killian | San Francisco, CA United States | 08/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"But the rest of the movie is good. It doesn't have the severity of the Brando version by Mankiewicz, with tough old Louis Calhern as Caesar and Satanic Edmond O'Brien as Casca. That was in a stark, nearly noir black and white--even the red hair of Mankiewicz' leading ladies Deborah Kerr and Greer Garson was muted to a silvery gray that served them ill. In this sixties rendition, the colorful hills of Rome call back fond memories of Zeffirelli's stagings of ROMEO and TAMING OF THE SHREW. Unfortunately the DVD gives us an inadequate and misleading account of most of the colorful setups, which on screen were a beauty photographed by Ken Higgins, the man who brought us Swinging England with his location work on GEORGY GIRL and DARLING.
Stuart Burge, the director, had a spotty career, but for a while he was on a roll and he was Olivier's favorite director for a bit. He directed the film of UNCLE VANYA with Olivier and Michael Redgrave, as well as Olivier's unbelievably hammy take on the Moor of Venice in OTHELLO. I wonder if Olivier was busy when Burge was hired for Othello, or if Heston kind of bumped Olivier out of the way. Surely Olivier would have made a more suitable Brutus than did our own homeboy Jason Robards Jr. whose performance has got to be in the hall of shame, hopelessly conceived, and possibly executed while he was drunk. There's no other explanation for how bad he is.
Charlton Heston, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Vaughn otherwise make you think that Americans can really take Shakespeare in stride. It's a shame we didn't see Heston in more Shakespearean parts. He can be a terribly good actor, and even in bad parts is pretty persuasive. This is his Planet of the Apes Mark Antony, fully committed to saving the world for the human beings. I enjoyed the movie, but in some parts you'll be stupefied by the shoffy condition of the release, and by Robards' bottom of the barrel (or bottle?) take on Brutus."