the Ides of March
The soothsayer spoke the truth many ages ago
By Byron Toben
In 44 BCE, or 2064 years ago, as depicted in Shakespeare’s play, a blind soothsayer warned Julius Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March”.
He didn’t and tragedy befell.
Now, in the year 2020, warnings about the explosiveness of the new virus COVID-19 by many modern sighted soothsayers were dismissed as hoaxes. But around March 15, their warnings elsewhere became all too manifestly evident in North America.
Now, in this spring of our discontented self-isolation, one of the best films to conjure up on the internet is Julius Caesar, the 1953 film of the play…
In the same play, the conspirator Cassius also declaims my favourite passage in all of Shakespeare… “How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over in states unborn and accents yet unknown?”
Now, in this spring of our discontented self-isolation, one of the best films to conjure up on the internet is Julius Caesar, the 1953 film of the play (much better than the 1970 re-do or the BBC recent modern TV version replete with cell phones and escalators).
The Hollywood film featured the great John Gielgud as Cassius, James Mason as Brutus and Marlon Brando (despite his famed mumbling in A Streetcar Named Desire) doing a creditable job as the articulate Mark Anthony. The soothsayer seems not to be accredited, even on Wikipedia. The talented Greer Garson as Caesar’s wife Calpurnia adds to the ignored warnings.
For comic relief, see also the Wayne and Shuster short clip wherein Calpurnia, in her best New York accent, pleads “I told him, Julie, don’t go.”
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.