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Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar(1953)

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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In 44 B.C., tribunes Flavius and Marullus watch with contempt as the citizens of Rome indulge in revelry to celebrate their leader Julius Caesar's triumph over Pompey. After pulling garlands off Caesar's statues and denouncing the self-appointed dictator, the two men are taken away by guards. Later, at a ceremonial race, Caesar is approached by a soothsayer, who tells him to beware the ides of March. Outside the stadium, Caesar's former comrades, Cassius and Brutus, discuss their dissatisfaction with the present regime. Meanwhile, Caesar confides to his loyal protégé, Mark Antony, that he considers the smart, ambitious Cassius dangerous. Later, Brutus and Cassius encounter Casca, who relates how Caesar was offered a crown by Mark Antony three times during the ceremonies. Casca says that Caesar made a big show of refusing the crown, thus inciting the crowd, before succumbing to his "falling sickness" and passing out. That night, a fierce storm rips through the streets of Rome, and rumors of supernatural phenomena spread. Cassius approaches Casca in the street and enlists him in his conspiracy against Caesar. In his home, Brutus ponders his earlier conversation with Cassius through the night, and as dawn breaks on the ides of March, he concludes that only Caesar's death will release Rome from his tyranny. Cassius comes by with Casca and several other conspirators, and Brutus agrees to join them. Cassius proposes that Mark Antony be killed as well, but Brutus cautions against excessive bloodshed and assures the others that Mark Antony is harmless. After Cassius and the others leave, Brutus' wife Portia awakens and implores Brutus in vain to tell her what has been troubling him lately. Meanwhile, Caesar's wife Calpurnia awakens in terror from a nightmare, and tells her husband that dire omens say he must not go out. Caesar orders a sacrifice, and the augurs confirm Calpurnia's fears. Caesar refuses to be intimidated by these portents, but to placate his wife, agrees to send Mark Antony to the senate house to say that Caesar is unwell. When Decius Brutus, one of the conspirators, comes to escort Caesar to the senate house, Caesar says he will not go, confiding that Calpurnia dreamed she saw Caesar's statue spouting blood. Decius Brutus insists that the dream was misinterpreted, and actually signifies good tidings for Rome. He adds that the senate has decided to give Caesar a crown that day, and Caesar is ashamed for almost yielding to his wife's fears. Caesar meets up with the conspirators in the street, and they encounter the soothsayer, who reminds Caesar that the ides of March has not yet passed. Inside the senate house, the conspirators stab Caesar to death, with the horrified Brutus delivering the fatal thrust. Mark Antony's servant comes bearing a conciliatory message, and Brutus and the others agree to meet with him. Mark Antony stands sadly over his mentor's bloody corpse, then, summoning all his self-control, makes peace with Caesar's killers. He requests that he be allowed to speak at Caesar's funeral, and over Cassius' protests, Brutus agrees, on the condition that Mark Antony not assign blame. The assassins disperse and Mark Antony, alone with Caesar's corpse, apologizes to his fallen friend and vows to avenge him. Brutus addresses the hysterical crowd that has assembled outside the senate house, justifying his actions by saying that he loved Rome more than Caesar, who had grown too ambitious. Brutus wins the crowd over, then departs so that Mark Antony may address them. The citizens are initially hostile to Caesar's former aide, but Mark Antony commands their attention with an emotional speech that cleverly pokes holes in the conspirators' explanation, at Brutus' expense. He then inflames the crowd by revealing that Caesar's will bequeathed all his wealth to the citizens of Rome, and stirs their passion by showing them Caesar's corpse. Soon the crowd is screaming for revenge against the "traitors" who killed Caesar. As the mob begins to riot in the streets, Mark Antony quietly slips away. Later, Brutus and Cassius have formed armies and fled, and Rome is under the rule of Caesar's heir Octavius, Mark Antony and Lepidus. While preparing for war against the conspirators, the triumvirate issues death sentences against scores of political enemies. Meanwhile, at his camp near Sardis, Brutus is visited by Cassius, and the two men argue bitterly over the corruption in Cassius' forces. Brutus then reveals that Portia has killed herself, and they put their differences aside. Word comes that the triumvirate's purge has claimed the lives of up to one hundred senators, and that Mark Antony and Octavius are leading forces toward Philippi. Brutus proposes that they meet their enemy at Philippi, and despite his misgivings, Cassius accedes. Late that night, Brutus is visited by Caesar's ghost, who states that he will see Brutus at Philippi. The following morning, on the plains of Philippi, Brutus and Cassius say their farewells before risking everything on one battle. Mark Antony's army is strategically positioned in the hills, and Cassius' troops suffer a terrible defeat. In despair, Cassius orders his bondman to kill him with the same dagger he used to slay Caesar. Later, as Brutus surveys the carnage, he tells his old friend Volumnius that Caesar's ghost appeared to him again in the fields of Philippi. Certain that defeat is inevitable, Brutus says goodbye to his men and instructs his servant to hold his sword while he throws himself on it. Later, Mark Antony stands over Brutus' body and praises the honorable man--the only one of the assassins to have acted purely out of concern for his country's welfare--as "the noblest Roman of them all."