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Julius Caesar Movie Comparison Essay Rubric

The basic difference between the funeral speeches of Brutus and Antony is that Brutus, characteristically, appeals to reason and logic, while Antony, characteristically, appeals to emotions. Brutus is an introverted, solitary philosopher, and his speech to the citizens is totally in character. He explains his reasons for killing Caesar. He is also a trained orator and delivers a sort of model of classic rhetoric. This is particularly obvious in the balanced sentences he uses in his opening remarks.

Hear me for my cause,
and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine
honor, and have respect to mine honor, that you may
believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and awake your
senses, that you may the better judge. 

Brutus is a rational man and believes that other men can be persuaded by reason. He is anxious to justify himself. His speech is full of the word "I." He never once mentions Cassius or any of the other conspirators. His major character trait is that he is a thinker. He expects other men to be thinkers too, because we all tend to judge others by ourselves.

Antony, on the other hand, is an extrovert and a hedonist. Throughout Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, Antony is characterized as a man who loves pleasures of the senses. This, of course, includes lots of wine drinking, and drinking liquor is antithetical to thinking. Whereas Brutus loves to think, it would seem that Antony is an escapist who doesn't like to think at all. His main character trait is that he is guided by his feelings. He expects other men to be guided by their emotions too--and in this he shows a much better understanding of people than Brutus. Antony appeals to the citizens' feelings right from the beginning. He does this easily, because he really does have strong feelings about the death of his friend Julius Caesar. He loved Caesar, he hates the conspirators, he wants revenge--and he also wants to save his own life and to achieve a position of power in the new order which will have to take form after the elimination of Julius Caesar. Here is only one example of the emotionalism in Antony's speech:

You all did love him once, not without cause;
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Antony is not giving a formal speech. Here he actually breaks down and weeps. Pretty soon he has this whole mob of rough, tough men crying with him. 

O, now you weep, and I perceive you feel
The dint of pity. These are gracious drops.
Kind souls, what weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar's vesture wounded? Look you here,
Here is himself, marr'd, as you see, with traitors.

According to Plutarch, on whom Shakespeare relied heavily for the incidents in his play, it was when Antony displayed Caesar's shredded and bloody cloak that the citizens were moved to mutiny. This is just one more example of the way in which Antony wisely appeals to emotions rather than logic. When the mob tears the unfortunate Cinna the poet to pieces just because he has the same name as one of the conspirators, the mob is demonstrating their irrationality.

Brutus' speech seems cold, stiff, formal, schooled, and rehearsed. No doubt Brutus planned it ahead of time because he knew what was going to happen. Antony couldn't have rehearsed his own speech because the assassination took him completely by surprise. Antony's speech is extemporaneous and highly charged with emotion. These two men's speeches reveal their characters. Brutus is bookish and doesn't really like or understand other people, especially the common people. Antony is athletic and fun-loving, and he understands other people because he spends much of his time consorting with them. The citizens respect Brutus but they identify with Antony as one of their own. Brutus made a terrible mistake when he agreed to allow Antony to address the Roman citizens at Caesar's funeral.

Julius Caesar is a 1970 Britishindependent filmadaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same name, directed by Stuart Burge from a screenplay by Robert Furnival. The film stars Charlton Heston, Jason Robards, John Gielgud, Robert Vaughn, Richard Chamberlain, Diana Rigg, and Jill Bennett.[1] It is the first film version of the play made in colour.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was shot at studios in the UK and on locations in Spain.[2]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The reviews for this version upon its theatrical release were mostly negative, with Robards especially being criticized for his wooden performance as Brutus. The film failed at the box office.[citation needed]

Howard Thompson wrote in his review:

"Ye gods! Must I endure all this?" understandably bellows Cassius (Richard Johnson) in the last lap of the third filming of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, which opened yesterday at the Kips Bay Theater. Made in England and Spain and in color, with a perfectly viable cast headed by Jason Robards and Charlton Heston, the new picture is generally as flat and juiceless as a dead haddock. In this third go-round, Willie and Julius, both, really get the business. It's Shakespeare all right, at least in dialogue. Dramaturgically, the blueprint adheres to the Hollywood version back in 1953. That solid, intelligent treatment may have lacked majesty but it did have two fire-and-ice performances by John Gielgud as Cassius and Marlon Brando as Mark Antony. And the tormented soul of the real hero, Brutus (James Mason), was sufficiently and touchingly bared. Then there was an even earlier Julius Caesar from Chicago, of all places, with a newcomer named Charlton Heston as Antony, which he repeats here. The movie did have a raw, shoestring vigor and a bit more. The new movie moves sluggishly, as directed by Stuart Burge. As the center of the whole thing, Robards is incredibly dull and wooden as Brutus, the "noblest Roman of them all." Heston supplies laconic bite and delivers a good, ferocious funeral oration. For all his professionalism, Gielgud's Caesar is just an old shrewdie who yields to his ego. In Sir John's former Cassius slot, Johnson looks anything but "lean and hungry," with a bearded sneer, contrasting Robert Vaughn's bland, eye-rolling Casca. However, Diana Rigg and Richard Chamberlain, as Portia and Octavius Caesar, are briefly excellent in their quicksliver precision and feeling. But it's hopeless. Now Julius Caesar looks left out all night.[2]

Critic Roger Ebert gives it only one star. In his review, he wrote:

There's hardly any way to describe how Jason Robards brings Julius Caesar to its knees, but let me try. It's a neat trick. He stares vacantly into the camera and recites Shakespeare's words as if he'd memorized them seconds before, or maybe was reading from idiot cards. Each word has the same emphasis as the last, and they march out of the screen at us without regard for phrases, sentences or emotional content. We begin to suspect, along toward Robards' big speech over Caesar's body, that Robards' mind has been captured by a computer from another planet and that the movie is an alien plot to drain the soul from mighty Shakespeare.

Robards would be enough, all by himself, to capsize the movie, but there's more. The actors race about on sets so flimsy we half expect them to collapse and sweep the entire Senate away with Caesar. When the crowds gather for Mark Antony's funeral oration, they group themselves like refugees from a particularly orderly Renaissance painting. When we get close-ups of the conspirators, they're arranged like mannequins in a department store window, and so rigid is the staging that sometimes they actually have to talk over their shoulders to each other. And then there's the matter of the walla. In big crowd scenes, sound departments always put in a lot of walla. Crudely defined, walla is the mix of indistinguishable noises a crowd makes when it talks all at once: Walla, walla, walla. Now walla isn't expensive - mere cents per wal - but in Julius Caesar something very weird has happened to the walla. It sounds as if it were composed on a synthetic electronic device of some sort; it doesn't sound human. So there's poor Robards trying to remember his lines, and all this synthetic walla curling around him, and then Charlton Heston leaps in with his Mark Antony speech. Heston does a fine job. Indeed, several performances are good; especially Robert Vaughn's as a slippery Casca. But just when Heston gets into high gear, we cut away to a long shot of the crowd and lose all the personal emotion in Heston's face.[3]

Release[edit]

Julius Caesar was released in the UK on 4 June 1970. The film was released on DVD on 11 May 2004 initially and then 1 February 2005, 25 July 2006, and 19 February 2013 afterwards.[4] Upon its 2013 Blu-ray disc release, it met with a more positive review from the website DVD Talk, although Jason Robards' performance was still soundly panned.[5] Its previous DVD release, which was pan-and-scanned rather than letterboxed, had been harshly criticized, and several other DVD reviewers also disparaged the film.[6]

Other Caesar films[edit]

John Gielgud played Cassius in the 1953 film version of Julius Caesar, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.[7] Charlton Heston had played Mark Antony once before, in an earlier film version of Julius Caesar, made in Chicago in 1950.[8] He would do so yet again, in a 1972 film version of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, which Heston directed.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

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