Except for the omission of several passages in the original play, this 1970 adaptation of Julius Caesar faithfully retells Shakespeare's account of events surrounding the assassination of Caesar in 44 B.C. The film begins when Caesar John Gielgud is at the height of his power after conquering Pompey "the Great" in a civil war. Important senators worry that Caesar means to become king, diminish their power, and abolish their beloved Roman republic. Two senators, Cassius Richard Johnson and Brutus Jason Robards, hatch an assassination plot involving other disenchanted Roman citizens. Although a soothsayer warns Caesar of trouble ("Beware the ides of March") and his own wife reports ominous signs ("A lioness hath whelped in the streets; and graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead"), Caesar decides to go to the senate on the ides (March 15). Upon arrival, the conspirators greet him with daggers. In his funeral oration, Mark Antony Charlton Heston extols Caesar and incites the citizens against Brutus and the other conspirators. Brutus and Cassius flee Rome with their armies, but Antony and two other sympathizers track them down with their armies. When the tide turns against the conspirators, Brutus and Cassius commit suicide. As does Shakespeare's play, the film leaves the discerning viewer wondering who was the real villain -- Caesar, because of his ambition for power, or Brutus, because of his underhanded plot to maintain the status quo.