JULIUS CAESAR (1910)
aka Giulio Cesare
Article 4806 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Giovanni Pastroni
Featuring Giovanni Pastroni, Luigi Mele
What it is: Shakespearean adaptation
Brutus is drawn into a conspiracy to assassinate Julius Caesar when the latter is crowned emperor.
I’ve never really quite grasped the purpose of doing silent movie versions of Shakespeare’s plays; after all, it’s the words that are the main appeal, and that’s the one element that silent versions can’t really use. Therefore, they end up being more celebrations of the declamatory acting style associated with productions of the bard’s works, so we get a lot of arm-waving. This short version of the play wisely tries to emphasize the spectacle, so we get parades through the city and (of course) the assassination sequence, though the latter is marred by the fact that it is painfully obvious that not one of the knives is in danger of breaking Caesar’s skin. The fantastic content includes a precognitive dream of the assassination and the appearance of a ghost in the final moments. In some ways, this cinematic adaptation is decent enough for what it is, but it’s certainly not the best choice for a full enjoyment of the original play.