Caesar Must Die

Caesar Must Die

The inmates of Rebibbia Prison enact a climactic scene from Shakespeare's "Julius Ceasar," behind bars, in Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's CAESAR MUST DIE, an Adopt Films release.

Caesar Must Die (2012/2013)

Opened: 02/06/2013 Limited

Film Forum/NYC02/06/2013 - 02/19/201314 days
Lincoln Plaza02/06/2013 - 02/14/20139 days
Royal Theatre02/22/2013 - 03/07/201314 days
Cinema Village...02/22/2013 - 02/28/20137 days
Playhouse 702/22/2013 - 02/28/20137 days
Music Box Thea...03/22/2013 - 03/28/20137 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Genre: Italian Drama (Italian w/English subtitles)

Rated: Unrated


The theater in Rome's Rebibbia Prison. A performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar has just ended amidst much applause. The lights dim on the actors and they become prisoners once again as they are accompanied back to their cells.


The warden and a theater director speak to the inmates about a new project, the staging of Julius Caesar in the prison. The first step is casting, a process both vivid and energetic. The second step is exploration of the text. Shakespeare's universal language helps the inmate-actors to identify with their characters. The path is long and full of anxiety, hope and play. These are the feelings accompanying the inmates at night in their prison cells after each day of rehearsal.

Who is Giovanni who plays Caesar? Who is Salavtore-Brutus? For which crimes have they been sentenced to prison? The film does not hide this.

The wonder and pride for the play do not always free the inmates from the exasperation of being incarcerated. Their angry confrontations put the show in danger. On the anticipated but feared day of opening night, the audience is numerous and diversified: inmates, actors, students, directors.

Julius Caesar is brought back to life but this time on a stage inside a prison. It's a success.

The inmates return to their cells. Even 'Cassius,' one of the main characters, one of the best. He has been in prison for many years, but tonight his cell feels different, hostile. He remains still. Then he turns, looks into the camera and tells us: "Since I have known art, this cell has turned into a prison."

Director's Statement

A dear friend recounted to us a theater experience she had had a few nights earlier. She cried, she said, and it had not happened in years. We went to that theater inside a prison. Rome's Rebibbia, the High Security Section. After passing a number of gates and blockades, we reached a stage where twenty or so inmates, some of them serving life sentences, were reciting Dante's Divine Comedy. They had chosen a few cantos of Hell and were now reliving the pain and torments of Paolo and Francesca, of Count Ugolino, of Ulysses -- all in the hell of their own prison... They each spoke in their own dialects, occasionally addressing parallels between the poetic story evoked by the cantos and their own lives. We remembered the words and tears of our friend. We felt the need to discover through a film how the beauty of their performances was born from those prison cells, from those outcasts that live so far from culture. We suggested Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to Fabio Cavalli, the stage director working with the inmates. We staged it with the collaboration of the inmates, filming in their cells, in the prison yard, the fathoms of the High Security Section and eventually on stage. We tried to contrast the darkness of their life as convicts, with the poetic force of the emotions Shakespeare evokes -- friendship and betrayal, murder and the torment of difficult choices, the price of power and truth. Reaching deep into a work like this means also looking at yourself, especially when one must leave the stage and return to the confinement of a cell.

-- Paolo and Vittorio Taviani