Most of what the public knows about Julius Caesar (100 to 44 BC) comes from Shakespeare’s play. Most of his work tended to be historical fiction. Julius Caesar does contain some anachronisms, but is is generally considered far more historically accurate than his other plays. Shakespeare based his play largely on work of the historian Plutarch. There have been 10 movie and television versions of the Caesar story since 1945. Shakespeare is the world’s most filmed playwright.
Among the best versions were the 1953 movie starring Marlon Brando as Mark Antony and the 1950 movie starring starring Charlton Heston as Mark Antony. Which do you think is better? First up, Brando, on unleashing the “dogs of war” as a result of Caesar’s murder. Then the famous funeral oration.
The renowned actor John Gielgud in 1960 dramatized three soliloquies from Julius Caesar:
Three Speeches of Mark Antony from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare read by Sir John Gielgud. 00:10 – Oh, mighty Caesar! Do you lie so low? (Act III, Scene 1) 01:30 – O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth (Act III, Scene 1) 02:50 – Friends, Romans, countrymen (Act III, Scene 2)
What can Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar teach us about modern politics?
A Timeless Thirst for Power, NYT 2013.