“In States Unborn and Accents Yet Unknown”: Spectral Shakespeare in Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Cesare deve morire (Caesar Must Die)

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Abstract

The paper focuses on Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Cesare deve morire (Caesar Must Die) (2012), an Italian adaptation of Julius Caesar set in a high security prison in Rome with a cast entirely made of convicts or former convicts. It explores how this adaptation "deconstructs" and "rewrites" Shakespeare (from an "Interview" with the film directors), especially by setting Julius Caesar in the "unborn state" of a prison, and through the use of a number of "accents yet unknown"–the inclusion of "dialects" from the South of Italy that not only displace the English "original" but also "standard" Italian translations of the play. The paper argues that the "Shakespeare" that emerges from this film is a "spectral Shakespeare", simultaneously material and evanescent, some kind of pharmakon that is not only "cure" but also "poison". As "cure" and "poison", this "Shakespeare" relates in complex ways with the largely US-based tradition of "prison Shakespeare", a tradition that insists on figuring "Shakespeare" as catalyst of spiritual growth, reformation and redemption
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-253
Number of pages19
JournalSHAKESPEARE BULLETIN
Volume32.2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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