Sunday 18 December 2011: Et Tu, Cutie?
Laura Earle is practicing her lines in the mirror, with my old poster for William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar reflected with her. The poster brings on a memory which now reads like a dream. The play was performed in 2005 at the Teatre National de Chaillot in Paris, with Ralph Fiennes as Marc Antony. In some scenes there were about a hundred people on the huge stage, and it was in English, with French supertitles above.
It's hard to exaggerate the impression it made on me. During Antony's funeral oration, my French co-worker was following the supertitles, but holding her mouth to keep from laughing. During the intermission I had a coffee, with the Eiffel Tower about one block away, looming large through a window that must have been about 80 feet high. I saw the play only a few weeks before very sadly leaving France, where I had wanted to remain for life.
My sister and I used to play-act and recite lines from that play, and now that I think of it, I've seen it performed several times on stage and a few times as movies. The scene in which Caesar is assassinated is so embedded in western culture that whenever his death is re-enacted by anyone else, they always make a clear nod to Skakespeare. The bard is that huge in the world of actors, almost 400 years after his death.
The first time I saw the great Roman stabbed was in the 1950 film with Louis Calhern under the knife. Then there was another Hollywood dagger-fest in 1970, John Gielgud in the bloody toga. I've only just now learned of a 2002 miniseries with Jeremy Sisto bleeding in the Curia.
But there is no better screen performance of that famous murder than in the last episode of the 1st season of HBO's series "Rome," with Ciaran Hinds as Gaius Julius Caesar. I have never seen an actor do the role more justice.
Laura Earle is sleeping now, but when I took this picture she was insisting that a girl-cat could play Caesar perfectly well (I've seen it done worse), and I captured her gesturing toward the sky, and saying,
I could be well mov'd if I were as you;
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me;
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix'd and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks,
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there's but one in all doth hold his place:
So, in the world; 'tis furnish'd well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshak'd of motion: and that I am he,
Let me a little show it, even in this,
That I was constant Cimber should be banish'd,
And constant do remain to keep him so.