RSC’s “African” Julius Caesar
The filmed version of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s version of Julius Caesar set in an (unnamed) modern day African country is now out on DVD. This film is not merely a filmed version of the (well-reviewed) stage production, but a true filmed version with a variety of sets, close-ups of actors, etc.
It was shown last year on BBC Four as part of the RSC World Shakespeare Festival in conjunction with the London Olympics.
The setting may seem gimmicky, but if so, it was a gimmick that worked well. It emphasizes the political thriller aspect of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar; and made the play seem especially relevant and exciting (in much the same way that the US production of House of Cards was relevant and exciting), rather than in the more traditional presentations which tend to emphasize the hoary Plutarch-ian origins of the play.
I recommend this production.
Note: this release is a region 0 PAL-format DVD. This means that it is not locked to any region, but that it uses the European PAL standard rather than the North American NTSC standard. If you live in the US, Canada, or other NTSC region, you can watch this in either of two ways: (1) Almost all contemporary computers with a DVD-drive can play it; or(2) Any PAL->NTSC converting player (such as the Oppo players) can play it – see here for a list.