Caesar Must Die

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Neither documentary nor fictional drama, Caesar Must Die is a brilliantly unique melding of the two by the renowned Taviani Brothers, best known to American audiences for Padre Padrone and The Night of the Shooting Stars. The film was shot entirely in the maximum security block of Rome’s Rebibbia prison, home to men serving long sentences for murder, drug-trafficking and Mafia-related activities. Theater director Fabio Cavalli holds auditions for Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, a play steeped in murder, conspiracy, and revenge, all of which resonate with this cast. Encouraged to speak in their native dialect, these tough guys have great flair for conveying theatrical angst and taking anger to its logical extreme. What could have been just a well-worn gimmick becomes, in the Tavianis’ skilled hands, a transcendently powerful drama-within-a-drama offering an eloquent look at the real-life consequences of lies and betrayals among men who value power above all else, as well as a triumphant celebration of art’s ability to impact lives. (Dir. by Paolo & Vittorio Taviani, 2012, Italy, in Italian with subtitles, 76 mins., Not Rated, Adopt Films) Digital