Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Julius Caesar Makes its Way into Anthropoid

Anthropoid. Dir. Sean Ellis. Perf. Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, and Brian Caspe. 2016. DVD. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2016.

Although I hate to say so, sometimes the Shakespeare in a film seems a bit tangential.

That's the case with its appearance in Anthropoid, a film about Operation Anthropoid, the joint British / Czechoslovakian operation to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi who oversaw the elimination of a great part of the Czech resistance to Hitler and Nazi Germany's expansion.

That, of course, is a much bigger issue than a line from Julius Caesar.

Still, the quote is used effectively, though ambivalently. In one scene, a character asks if those who have attempted the assassination were serious in their declaration that they would commit suicide with signs declaring that they were responsible (in an attempt to reduce Nazi retaliation upon the Czech people). When one of the assassins says, "Maybe," he response with this line: "Cowards die many times before their death, / The valiant never taste of death but once" (II.ii.32-33).

Is that meant to say that such a death would be cowardly or valiant? It's ambitious.

[Caution: Some (probably predictable) spoilers follow.]

Later, just before the assassins kill themselves to prevent themselves from falling into the hands of the Nazis, we see a copy of Julius Caesar float past them.

Here's a clip that includes both scenes:

It's an effective use of Shakespeare, whichever way you read the use of the quotation.

Note: It took an embarrassingly long time, but I finally realized that the film and the play the quote is from are both about assassination and the unexpected ramifications of what might be seen as a reasonably-straightforward assassination. There's greater depth than I first realized in that element.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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