Caesar and Claretta

Jack Russell
Helen Mirren at the BBC
(2008)

Robert Hardy stars opposite the central figure in this series, giving a convincing performance as Il Duce, Benito Mussolini.

He is the Caesar of the title, while his leading lady, Clara Petacci, is no Egyptian queen but at least, a very loyal mistress. She needs to be, as this 50 minute drama takes place during the last night of their lives.

The couple have been captured by partisans in 1945 towards the end of the war, long after his country has lost faith in the Fascist dictator with big ambitions.

In their bedroom, as the great man fights off his symbolic impotence, he also talks poetically about his life and what it means to be a great leader.

All that is left to his leading lady is to convey both her love and admiration for the man to whom she is to all intents and purposes dedicating her death.

Jack Russell's script is rather wordy but thanks to Robert Hardy's performance gives us some idea of what it takes to become the head of a single party state, intent on global conquest.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher