“Beware the Ides of March”: Take a stab at these Julius Caesar movies today
To paraphrase Mean Girls for a moment, it’s, like, totally time to kill Caesar! Today is March 15th, better known as the Ides of March, which is when Caesar was famously killed by twenty-three Roman senators in order to dethrone him because he went a little, you know, mad with power. Over the years, people really like to celebrate Caesar’s famous assassination online.
It’s the internet, man. We don’t know what to tell you on that front. Plus, sometimes you just want to celebrate when one of history’s most famous dictators, well, who are we to judge, you know? In order to celebrate the Ides of March, here are some of the best movies about Caesar (or the Roman era).
Cleopatra is one of the biggest productions ever to happen in movie history. Like, seriously, this film was so big that it almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox. Decades before the studio did go bankrupt and was sold to Disney, but that’s another story for another day. The film stars Elizabeth Taylor in the title role with Richard Burton as Marc Antony & Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar.
This movie, interestingly enough, focuses more on the aftermath of the Ides of March over the lead-up to it. While there is a lead-up to the Caesar’s murder, it gets far more interesting to see Cleopatra navigate the fallout following his death. More than that, it’s a technical masterpiece with some of the most gorgeous costumes & sets put to film. Of course, there’s also the fact that a white woman is playing Cleopatra.
That said, it’s one of those films where you have to recognize the historical context and racism pervading the industry that leads to such casting. Either way, it’s considered a classic film and definitely worth watching if you’re interested in movies on the Ides of March.
Caesar Must Die (2012)
One of Shakespeare’s most famous plays is Julius Caesar, which follows his assassins (chiefly Brutus) as they plot his demise. You know the line “Et tu, Brute?”. That’s from this play. This Italian drama film directed by Taviani Brothers is set in Rebibbia Prison, which is a prison just outside of Rome. It follows a group of convicts in their rehearsals for a prison performance of Julius Caesar.
In fact, here’s the wild part, Caesar Must Die used actual prisoners as the actors in the film, which brought a sense of heightened emotional intensity and realism to the performances. It won the Golden Bear at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival, which was a major upset that year. It’s definitely a movie to put on your Ides of March viewing list.
Big Bollywood fan that wants to celebrate the Ides of March? Be sure to check out Zulfiqar. This film combines the plays Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra from William Shakespeare for this adaptation. It follows the Godfather-like head of a crime family known as “The Syndicate” as those around him plot his death. Of course, there’s drama, sex, intrigue, and romance at every turn.
Zulfiqar takes those big emotions from Shakespeare and amplifies it a thousand fold. Of course, it’s also not a very good movie. Critics lambasted it when it came out and there was a controversy of Muslim characters being cast as the bad guys. Those are points against. Much like Caesar, however, the film had ambitions too big for it to properly handle. Either way, it’s a good choice to put it on and heckle.
How are you celebrating the Ides of March? Should we have more movies about Caesar? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!