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Non-Review Review: Julius Caesar (1970)

Julius Caesar is a very ropey production. Produced by Commonwealth United Entertainment and American International Pictures, it doesn’t stand up as an enduring adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy. While quite a few of the essential ingredients are lacking, Charlton Heston actually does a fairly good job as Marc Anthony – it’s just that he’s never quite as good as Marlon Brando had been in the role back in 1953. On the other hand, Jason Robards is woefully miscast as Brutus, transforming “noble Brutus” from the most honest man in Rome to the most sinister of assassins. The production values are fairly decent, but Julius Caesar perhaps provides evidence that these sorts of historical epics were already on the way out by the start of the 1970s.

Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Lend my your expensive set designers!

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Non-Review Review: The Lion King

You said you’d always be there for me! … But you’re not.

– Simba rages at the heavens

The Lion King is my favourite Disney film. I don’t know if I could argue that it’s objectively the best or anything like that, as I imagine that there are a lot of external factors that contribute to making a person’s favourite Disney films – most of which are matters of timing, with the film appearing at “just the right time”, to borrow a cliché. I was seven years old when the film was first released, but I don’t believe that I saw it in the cinema (hence my trip to the cinema to see it on re-release), so perhaps I was eight or nine when I first caught Disney’s adaptation of Hamlet. It’s a dodgy proposition revisiting something you loved as a child, as there’s a risk that the finished product won’t quite live up to your memories of it – perhaps because you say it differently through younger eyes, or because time has marched on, or because you’ve become too cynical. So, I was taking a considerable risk as the theatre went dark, wondering if perhaps I had made a mistake.

I hadn’t. Sometimes some things areas good as you remember them.

"The fault, dear Simba, lies not in our stars... but in ourselves..."

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Chorus Lion: The Musical Magic of the Lion King…

Thanks to the ever wonderful Andrew who is running a mini-blogothon event this weekend. I’m delighted to have been asked to take part, and I’m sure there are some interesting choices being made.

When you mention “musical”, is it a cheat to think “Disney”? I’m not really sure. I mean, I could point to any number of iconic and important live-action musicals. The Wizard of Oz is perhaps the most enduring of these, but they run the gauntlet from quirky indie numbers like Romance & Cigarettes to bona fides Oscar winners like Chicago. There’s ones that have transitioned from stage to screen and those who have gone from cinema to theatre. However, for me, it has to be a Disney film. And not just because they own a monopoly on my childhood. And, if it’s going to be a Disney film, it has to be The Lion King.

Pride and joy...

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