Mafioso and murderer tackle Shakespeare in new film

Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:30am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - Drug dealers, a Mafioso and a murderer are cast in the roles of Caesar, Brutus, Cassius and others in "Caesar Must Die," a docu-drama about inmates at a tough Italian prison who take on a Shakespeare tragedy.

The movie, which has its world premiere at the Berlin film festival on Saturday, was shot at the Rebibbia prison on the outskirts of Rome, some of it in the high security wing.

Directed by veteran Italian film makers Vittorio and Paolo Taviani, "Cesare Deve Morire" might equally be called "Shakespeare can set you free" as prisoners mentally escape the confines of their cells, at least fleetingly.

And Shakespeare's themes of power, corruption, murder and vengeance in "Julius Caesar" naturally resonate with performers who are serving sentences ranging from 14 years to life.

"They were in their world but at the same time they had lines of Shakespeare which talked about murder and betrayal ... about power and bosses, and we thought may be we can include their realities in the play," Vittorio told reporters in Berlin.

"They lived through personal dramas too and we could link this to the dramatic life of Brutus and Mark Antony, for example, and they were able to put themselves in the shoes of the characters of Shakespeare."

Caesar Must Die is one of several movies at this year's Berlin festival which deal with captivity, and judging by warm applause after a press screening, it could prove popular with the critics and judges.

UNHAPPY ENDING   Continued...

<p>Directors Vittorio (L) and Paolo Taviani pose during a photocall to promote the movie Caesare Deve Morire (Caesar Must Die) at the 62nd Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 11, 2012. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen</p>