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R. Henderson Bland,
Cleopatra as a firm ruler and military tactician who embarked on a ruthless rise to power. Cleopatra twice married brothers, killing each of them as well as a sister. Romantic alliances ... See full summary »
When she discovers that a slave named Pharon professes his love for her, Cleopatra makes a bargain with him: she will give him ten days of "love," at the end of which he is to commit suicide. He agrees, although the queen's handmaiden Iras, in love with the slave, isn't happy with the arrangement. Later when Cleopatra is seducing Marc Antony, her relationship with Pharon is used against her, but with little effect. She allies herself with Antony against Octavius, participates in a brief war, then meets her end rather than be subjected to Roman rule. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
Though the plot is very old fashioned and a historical nightmare, the film looks marvelous for 1912.
"Cleopatra" is clearly a case where I am giving a film a favorable rating even though I really thought the plot was pretty stupid. After all, as a retired history teacher, the film is a mess and creates a ridiculous image of Cleopatra which history cannot support. Imagine...in this film she is SO seductive and beautiful that a lowly fisherman agrees to kill himself after they complete a short love affair! And, imagine that the mere sight of her compels people to destroy their lives! That's the Cleopatra of this film--an almost complete fiction created by French playwright Victorien Sardou.
The reason I STILL think it's worthwhile is the historical context for when the film was made. It was 1912--and a feature length film in America might be 20 or 30 minutes max---yet here we have a costume drama lasting nearly 90 minutes. And, although there's a bit of overacting here and there, the film is reasonably well directed by Charles Gaskill. Worth seeing as a curio at least--even if the story is pretty crappy.
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