Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Julius Caesar (1953)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Julius Caesar (1953)

In director/writer Joseph Mankiewicz's and MGM's black and white epic historical drama - it was an adaptation of William Shakespeare's historical play 'The Tragedy of Julius Caesar' about political intrigue, power and betrayal in ancient Rome; much of the focus within the film was on the character of high-ranking Roman Senator Brutus rather than Julius Caesar; it illustrated a specific period in Roman history when the republic came to an end and transitioned to imperial dictatorship:

  • the film opened with a quotation in the prologue from Plutarch's LIVES: "Upon Caesar's return to Rome, after defeating Pompey in the civil war, his countrymen chose him a fourth time counsel and then dictator for life...thus he became odious to moderate men through the extravagance of the titles and powers that were heaped upon him"
  • an arrogant Caesar (Louis Calhern) returned to Rome in 44 BC, victorious after defeating Pompey; he was greeted by his faithful wife Calpurnia (Greer Garson), and the citizenry celebrated with rejoicing and revelry by placing garlands on Caesar's statues; however, Caesar was warned that his life was in danger by a blind soothsayer ("Beware the Ideas of March")
  • with other elites and politicians, an introspective, troubled, and indecisive Brutus (James Mason) conferred with his brother-in-law - ambitious and crafty Roman Senator Caius Cassius (John Gielgud), who urged and pressured him to join with a group of schemers who had formed a conspiracy of Liberators to free Rome of the autocratic Caesar; Cassius spoke the famous line: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings"

Brutus (James Mason) with Caius Cassius (John Gielgud)

Cassius: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings"
  • one of the conspirators, Casca (Edmond O'Brien) reported to them that Caesar's loyal protege and right-hand man Mark Antony (aka Antonius) (Marlon Brando) had offered Caesar a crown three times during the victory ceremonies at the arena; Caesar made a big show of refusing the crown, possibly hoping that the crowd would convince him to accept; Casca regarded Caesar's rejections as a cheap theatrical trick ("it was mere foolery"); afterwards, Caesar swooned and passed out and looked weak as he left the arena ("he fell down and foamed at the mouth and was speechless")
  • the conspiratorial plan was to assassinate the tyrannical, ambitious, popular and triumphant military leader Caesar due to his rising popularity and increased hero status following his defeat of his military rival Pompey; Cassius summarized his intentions: "We will shake him, or worse days endure"; the elimination of Caesar, a potential self-appointed dictator if crowned king, was intended to prevent him from abusing the Roman citizenry if he ever became Emperor
  • Brutus rejected the excessive idea of murdering Mark Antony along with Caesar: "For Antony is but a limb of Caesar. Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius...And for Mark Antony, think not of him, for he can do no more than Caesar's arm when Caesar's head is off"; Brutus' sympathetic wife Portia (Deborah Kerr) worried about his troubled state of mind when he wouldn't divulge that he was making a decision about participating in Caesar's assassination
  • Caesar was warned a second time that his life was in danger, this time by his wife Calpurnia who told him of her nightmarish, fearful bloody omens of his death (including his statue with 100 spouts of pure blood), and urged him to remain home; when her dream was reinterpreted as a "vision fair and fortunate" with good tidings for the future of Rome, Caesar decided to not yield to his wife's fears
  • in 44 BC on the Ides of March (March 15th), as Caesar approached the Senate house to be crowned, he was brutally stabbed to death by multiple persons beginning with Casca, including by the hand of Brutus who delivered the last fatal blow to his stomach (with Caesar's famous line: "You too, Brutus?"); shouts rang out: "Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!"; the conspirators dipped their hands in Caesar's blood: "Let us bathe our hands in Caesar's blood"

Brutus and Cassius Plotting

Casca - the First to Stab Caesar

Caesar to Brutus: ("Et tu, Brute?")
  • Caesar's vengeful supporter Mark Antony was allowed to approach without harm and view Caesar's body; with tremendous self-control, he made peace and shook hands with each of the conspirators; he was also reluctantly given permission to speak after Brutus at Caesar's 'funeral' memorial, but then in private over Caesar's corpse, Antony apologized and angrily vowed revenge for the 'foul deed': "Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood"
  • the betrayer Brutus defended his actions with a well-accepted winning speech from a pulpit to appease the hysterical masses, about his patriotic and dedicated love for Rome and his fear of Caesar's dangerous and threatening ambitions ("Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his....Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more"); he vowed that he was protecting Rome, and asked the audience if he had offended anyone ("If any, speak, for him have I offended") but no one replied that he had ("Then none have I offended")

Brutus' Speech to Appease the Hysterical Masses

Antony Carrying Caesar's Body

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!"
  • the end of Brutus' speech was interrupted by Mark Antony who appeared behind him carrying Caesar's corpse; he began his eloquent oration with: "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!"; he first told the crowd that he had come to bury Caesar, not to praise him: ("I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Caesar")
  • Antony's manipulative speech convinced the commoners that Caesar had been good for Rome, and that the people should sympathize with the fallen hero who had been butchered after refusing the crown three times. He inflamed the crowd when he showed them Caesar's ripped robe where Brutus had stabbed him ("This was the most unkindest cut of all"). He also read to them Caesar's will that included payments of 75 drachmas to all citizens. The mob was persuaded to drive the traitorous self-serving conspirators out of Rome
  • a title card was superimposed on the screen: "The conspirators having fled, there came to Rome the young Octavius whom Caesar had adopted as his son. So did he and Antony divide the power between themselves and prepare to make war against Brutus and Cassius for the empire of the Romans"; two opposing armies were formed: the conspirators vs. the superior forces of Mark Antony, who had formed a triumvirate with Lepidus (Douglass Dumbrille) and Caesar's adoptive son Octavius (Douglass Watson) to rule over Rome; the new leaders decided who would die with the issuance of death sentences for enemies of the state (including the purge of 100 Roman Senators)
  • at their military camp near Sardis, Brutus argued bitterly with Cassius, accusing him of dishonesty (accepting bribes of gold) and corruption; they buried their differences after Brutus informed Cassius that his upset, devoted wife Portia had killed herself ("swallowed fire" or hot coals to protect her husband), that night, Brutus experienced an apparition - it was Caesar's ghost calling him an "evil spirit" and portending: "Thou shalt see me at Philippi"
  • during a battle between the two factions, the forces of Brutus and Cassius were overpowered at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, and the two separately committed suicide to avoid capture; first, Cassius ordered his bondman Pindarus (Michael Ansara) to thrust into his chest using the same dagger that ran through Caesar; knowing that the end was near for himself after seeing Cassius' corpse, Brutus impaled himself on his own sword held by Strato (Edmund Purdom)

Stabbed with His Own Dagger

Lethally Impaled On His Own Sword
Suicidal Deaths of Cassius and Brutus
  • the film concluded with Mark Antony standing over Brutus' body with praise for him, even though he was one of the assassins: "This was the noblest Roman of them all. All the conspirators, save only he, did that they did in envy of great Caesar. He only, in a general honest thought and common good to all, made one of them. His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world - 'This was a man.'"

Julius Caesar (Louis Calhern)

Blind Soothsayer to Caesar: "Beware the Ides of March"

Casca (Edmond O'Brien)

Caesar with His Right-Hand Man Mark Antony (Marlon Brando)

Brutus' Worried Wife Portia (Deborah Kerr)

Bloody Nightmares of Caesar's Death Suffered by His Concerned Wife Calpurnia (Greer Garson)

Mark Antony Viewing Caesar's Dead Body

In Private, Mark Antony Vowing Revenge

Mark Antony's Impassioned Speech for Caesar to the Crowd

Mark Antony Showing Off Caesar's Will

Leaving the Mob in a Frenzied State

(l to r): Octavius (Douglass Watson) with Mark Antony - Two Leaders of Rome's New Triumverate

A Ghostly Apparition of Caesar Appeared to Brutus

Antony's Praise Over Brutus' Body


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