Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Mark Antony Waves the Bloody Shirt

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 25, 2017

Click-click-clicking through YouTube videos, I happened on this one, of Charlton Heston’s performance of the famous “friends, Romans, countrymen” speech from Julius Caesar. It’s the first time, I think, I’ve seen it performed, and it makes a striking difference from simply reading the text, or listening to a recitation of it.

“. . . and Brutus is an honorable man.” That, my friends, Romans, countrymen, is how you turn the knife in the wound.

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2 Responses

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  1. Msb said, on October 26, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Welcome to one of the best of Shakespeare’s plays about politics, and one frequently performed by the Booth family.
    Heston does okay, despite apparently being swaddled in somebody’s old satin curtains, but Marlon Brando was a good Antony in fast company in the old black and white film. He’s better in the “O pardon me” soliloquy on Caesar’s death than on “Friends, Romans”. Both are on Youtube. So is the first half of the best version I’ve Seen in a lifetime of theatre going: the RSC “African” production of a few years ago, set in a West African country where a strongman like Caesar might be seen today. Ray Fearon plays Antony brilliantly, and not only waves the bloody shirt (mantle) but literally displays Caesar’s mutilated body. It works a treat. Only the first half of the scene is on Youtube but one can get the whole show on DVD. I certainly did.
    Count the uses of “Brutus is an honorable man”. There are 9. The crowd says damn straight the first 3-4 times, but is muttering at it soon after and jeering by number 9. Brilliant writing.

    • Andy Hall said, on October 26, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      “Count the uses of “Brutus is an honorable man”. There are 9. The crowd says damn straight the first 3-4 times, but is muttering at it soon after and jeering by number 9. Brilliant writing.”

      Yep, exactly.


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