Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meek and Gentle with Butchers

Somehow I only recently became aware of the 1953 film adaptation of Julius Caesar featuring James Mason as Brutus, Marlon Brando as Antony, and John Gielgud as Cassius --- shouldn't a teacher forced a classroom I was in to watch it at least once? Notwithstanding the regrettable performance behind the title role, I know what I hate, and I don't hate this adaptation.

I wasn't sure of what to make of the idea of Marlon Brando playing Marc Antony until this scene, in which Antony reveals his plans to destroy the conspirators:

Wow. Not that I know what I am talking about, but that's how it should be done.

Here's the text from act 3 scene 1:
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,—
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue—
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

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