Julius Caesar
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2006
I bought this version to augment our homeschool study of Julius Caesar because it had so many actors whom I recognized. But right from the opening credits, I could not read the blurry titles or names, and I eventually gave up because my eyes got tired from squinting in an unconscious effort to try to bring this hopelessly poor-quality film into focus. I wondered if it was a pirated copy. On the other hand, what I saw of it was just what I wanted: vintage actors trying their hand at a kind of acting I have rarely seen most of them do. I was expecting a fine performance from John Geilgud, and was not disappointed. Diana Rigg was reasonable as Portia. Robert Vaughan's excellent Casca was a very pleasant surprise, quite a change of pace since the last time I saw him he was the Man from U.N.C.L.E. As for Jason Robards, he and Shakespeare should just avoid each other; Robard's performance was wooden and his lines delivered in a flat voice. Still, what I saw of it was good, nostalgic fun, and I truly regret having to return the DVD; but in the end, I could not watch it because of the poor quality of the filming.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2004
I ordered this DVD for use in teaching the play. Though I had anticipated it for months and waited with impatience for its release, I now find I was impatient for mediocrity. The performances are disappointing, with only Richard Chamberlain as Octavious showing any passion in his performance. Indeed, Jason Robards as Brutus illustrated the poorest Shakespearean acting I've yet seen, and it's an embarassment for anyone attempting to light a fire for Shakespeare in teenagers. Robards speaks his lines as if he is reading them for the first time on his couch at home.

Until Hollywood gives this another try, I recommend the BBC version of the play available with English subtitles from Ambrose Video. Of course, there is always the Brando version of the play with James Mason doing a much more credible job than Robards as Brutus.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The movie itself is fine. I think Charlten Heston is a fine actor. However, the quality of the film was "abysmal" I got ripped for 12.99 plus shipping and handling so that I could show my classes a piece of fine literary material that looked like someone had filmed the film on their video camera. I could of had better results had I used my camera phone to record this moveie. On may levels my students were disappointed as was I! My advice to English teachers everywhere is buy the Marlon Version-at least there is some good acting! I want my money back!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2002
Pardon the pun - actually that would be Brutus with the coup d'etat - "the most unkindest cut of all."
Behind Hamlet, Julius Caesar emerges as the foremost tragedy that has brought us so many great axioms and lines that we still use today some 400 years after the fact. After reading the beloved play for the 2nd time, I then watched this superb movie version for the 2nd time. It is impossible to overstate the incredible acting talent and the splendid performance enacted by the vibrant Charlton Heston as Marc Antony. His dynamic and electrifying speech to the plebians in the marketplace rivals any other in Shakespeare cinema history(including Olivier in Hamlet and Branagh in Henry V).
Not to be outdone, Sir John Gielgud superbly plays an arrogant and imperious version of Caesar while Jason Robards stoically plays the "noble" Brutus. As a self-proclaimed Shakespeare aficionado, I thoroughly reveled in this version of Julius Caesar and highly recommend it to those who appreciate fine drama.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is an excellent production of Julius Caesar, barring some atrociously wooden acting by Jason Roberts, who seems to think that Shakespeare needs to be performed as if he were a bored high school student reading (clumbsily) directly from the script. What was he thinking? Oh, and of course, the makers of this DVD thought they were doing Rome a favour by assasinating the picture: formatted to fit your screen is the way they put it, like they were doing you a favour. Some day maybe DVD manufacturers will realize some DVD purchasers have widescreen TVs! And maybe Amazon will provide better information about the DVDs so we will know we are getting a DVD that's been cut down to size when we order it.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2004
If you're a huge fan of Heston's or of this superb play, you might want to suffer through this terrible print.
It's blurry, the colors blur and flash like a bad animation, and it sounds like it was recorded underwater with a megaphone. It's really a piece of crap.
The performances are good, and because it's the only other film version of the play, (that I can find) they warrant comparison with the 1958 Brando version. Heston's needlessly pompous and swaggering Antony is occasionally amusing and occasionally pretty good, but ultimately the performance lacks the authenticity and verve of Brando's, and one can't help but compare. Robards's Brutus is stoic and tortured and it is something like torture to watch him act, at least for the first half of the film. By the time Brutus is heading up the wrong end of the civil war, Robards aptly transforms Brutus into a man whose passions have fermented to the surface. It's by turns a flat, interesting, and jarring performance accented by an occasional flash of brilliance, such as the scene in which Brutus and Cassius argue about funds and bribes. Much of the supporting cast: Diana Rigg, Gielgud, and Robert Vaughn, in particular are excellent.
It's a shame really that this is such a horrifying print (the worst in fact that I've ever seen), because this was a good movie once. Somewhere through the blur you can make out decent production values: large crowd and battle scenes, attractive costumes, and what looks like the hilly Italian countryside. Who knows maybe even the "seven hills," though I doubt even a Roman native would be able to tell for sure.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
" JULIUS CAESAR ", by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE; 1970 Movie Version Review:

SIR JOHN GIELGUD as Julius Caesar proved that he is a master of his craft;
DIANA RIGG (Portia, M. Brutus' wife), DEREK GODFREY (the cunning Decius Brutus), and JILL BENNETT (Calpurnia, J. Caesar's wife) were also all very good. But,

RICHARD JOHNSON's volitile portrayal of Gaius Cassius STOLE THE SHOW as one of SHAKESPEARE's best antagonists in this classical drama.

CHARLTON HESTON (Marc Antony) would also have been very good, but his entire performance was upstaged by that ridiculous red wig he wore... what were they thinking? An Irish Marcus Antonius?

JASON ROBARDS is historically a very capable Ocsar-winning actor. However, cast as Marcus Brutus here, he delivered SHAKESPEARE's emotionally-charged dialogue in a boring, almost annoying monotone voice.
The only emotion he showed in the whole movie was in his "war-of-words" with Cassius (RICHARD JOHNSON) in the tent before the Battle of Phillipi.

ROBERT VAUGHN apparently honed some good acting skills after being "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." on TV, and delivered a surprisingly fine portrayal of the devious Senator/Conspirator Casca. And,

RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN was competent as Octavian Augustus Caesar (which is not much of a role in this play); but as a wise thespian named Kildare once said, "there are no small roles, only small doctors".

It's a MYSTERY who portrayed GAIUS LIGARIUS, the play's eighth Senator/Conspirator seen in this movie. Neither the character nor the actor are named in the credits, on DVD, VHS, in the movie's website, or on IMDb. The Invisible RoMan?

STUART BURGE as Director turned in a production equal to his 1965 movie version of Shakespeare's OTHELLO, with Sirs Laurence Olivier and Derek Jacobi.

ROBERT FURNIVAL's Adapted Screenplay was basically true to SHAKESPEARE.
KENNETH HIGGINS' Cinematography was first-rate and visually appealing.

OVERALL, I rate this production a 7.5 on a ten-scale.

ONE FINAL FOOTNOTE: SIR JOHN GIELGUD was also in the cast of the 1953 movie version of JULIUS CAESAR, with Marlon Brando and James Mason. He portrayed Gaius Cassius brilliantly. And, yes, CASSIUS stole the show in that version as well. I recommend you watch both of them !
Ray Harp, April 8, 2009
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2006
This is the 1970 movie of JULIUS CAESAR, starring Charlton Heston as Antony.

To my mind, it's every bit as good as the earlier, b&w version with Marlon Brando as Antony, though the later BBC version directed by Herbert Wise (who made I, CLAUDIUS) may be the best of the lot, partly because it renders the play virtually uncut. (It's available at Amazon in the set "BBC Shakespeare Tragedies DVD Giftbox".)

All three versions have strong points and weaknesses. The biggest weakest here is the strangely mis-calibrated performance by Jason Robards as Brutus; I think he intended to project quiet fortitude in the first half of the play, but he seems to be moving in a trance. Much better is the Casca of Robert Vaughn (yes, the Man from U.N.C.L.E.), a young and dashing Richard Chamberlain as Octavius, and John Gielgud as Caesar.

The production is visually pleasing, with sets and costumes that for the most part are historically accurate but sometimes have a slight Elizabethan touch, as if to remind us of the play's origins.

BTW, the spelling of Shakespear without a final e is not incorrect; this is a variant of the name which is actually the preferred spelling in some countries.

Footnotes: Before his official movie debut in the early 1950s, Heston played the role of Antony in an independent production of JULIUS CAESAR, which is now available on DVD, and he again played Antony when he directed his own, quite excellent movie version of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA (which, alas, is not available on DVD as of 2006.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I ordered this tape to show to my Sophomore English classes as we read the play. The quality of the video was so poor that my colleagues and I judged the tape unwatchable. I do not recommend this tape. Instead, order the Marlon Brando edition.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2008
I just finished teaching Julius Caesar to my sophomores, and we watched the 1952 black and white version as we read the play. The students asked me if I could find a color version, as they are all about technology. I found this version and was quite excited when I found this version.

My class is watching this as I write this review, and while I will show it again, I will only use it as a comparison to Brando's version. The acting, with the exception of Caesar, Calpurnia, and Portia, is horrible. I have never in my life seen such bad acting as I have seen with Brutus. Robards does a horrible job, and where he actually shows some emotion - in the argruement with Cassius - it is too little too late.

Students have told me that had they watched this version first, they would have completely lost interest in the play. The only thinkg they like about it are the crowd scenes. They are the only thing that, to them, is more realistic. I reccommend only if you are showing this as a companion, not as the main movie to help catch their attention.

As far as the movie quality, I have seen nothing wrong with it. I show mine on a smart board, and the picture quality and sound are fine.
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