Julius Caesar is one of Shakespeare's most accessible plays; it has alot going for it - the pomp and glamour of ancient Rome; one of history's best-known figures; politics, intrigue, murder and war; interesting character studies in Brutus, Cassius and Mark Anthony and one of the few speeches (Friends, Romans, Countrymen....) that we all think we know by heart - even if we only manage the first sentence. However I have yet to see a film version of this play that does it justice.
This version isn't BAD, but there is nothing brilliant or gripping about it. In particular I felt the key actors were not well chosen; Caesar was rather boring, Brutus, on whom the play hinges, had an odd bland look about him and Cassius looked more snivelling and weasely than crafty and dangerous (more Peter Pettigrew than Severus Snape, if you know your J.K. Rowling). The scene near the end where these two quarrel - always a slightly awkward scene, I feel - was just plain silly. For me, the most convincing actor was Keith Michell as Mark Anthony, although he seemed a little old for the role. One interesting casting was Elizabeth Spriggs looking young and elegant as Calpurnia (Mrs Caesar) - I know her from lots of period dramas, as Bertie Wooster's fearsome Aunt Agatha and as the original Fat Lady in Harry Potter - always as an imposing older woman - I was intrigued to see what she looked like in her prime.
I have seen two other versions of this play; Julius Caesar 1953
and Julius Caesar 1970
. All three are rather dated, but I think the best is the 1953 version (with Marlon Brando as Mark Anthony) thanks to the wonderful John Gielgud who takes the role of Cassius. I would really love to see this play brought vividly to life in a modern production - because it's worth it!