In 48 B.C., Caesar pursues Pompey from Pharsalia to Egypt. Ptolemy, now supreme ruler after deposing his older sister, Cleopatra, attempts to gain favor with Caesar by presenting the conquerer with the head of Pompey, borne by his governors, Pothinos and Achillas. To win Caesar's support from her brother, Cleopatra hides herself in a rug, which Apollodorus, her servant, presents to Caesar. The Roman is immediately infatuated; banishing Ptolemy, he declares Cleopatra Egypt's sole ruler and takes her as his mistress. A son, Caesarion, is born of their union. Caesar, however, must return to Italy. Although he is briefly reunited with Cleopatra during a magnificent reception for the queen in Rome, Caesar is assassinated shortly thereafter, and Cleopatra returns to Egypt. When Mark Antony, Caesar's protégé, beholds Cleopatra aboard her elaborate barge at Tarsus some years later, he is smitten and becomes both her lover and military ally. Their liaison notwithstanding, Antony, to ... Written by
By June 6 of the Italian shoot spending was nearly $70,000 per day and the film was already $3 million dollars more expensive than Ben Hur. See more »
In one point Caesar talks to Cleopatra about Rome's interest in Egyptian maize. Ancient people had no idea about it, since maize was originally cultivated in prehistoric Mesoamerica and spread worldwide only in the 15th and 16th centuries. See more »
[in the Senate of Rome]
Antony! Stay not too long in Alexandria!
[general laughter from the rest of the Senate]
Germanicus, stay not too long in Rome.
[the Senate laughs even louder as Germanicus leaves]
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It is extremely difficult to evaluate this film. On the one hand, the presentation is first class: the sets, props, costumes, location photography, and music are all of the caliber befitting the grandiose ambition of the production. I personally found the acting by the truly all-star cast to be uniformly excellent throughout with McDowall's Octavian and Harrison's Caesar deserving special mention. Taylor deserved the million dollars she got for the title role and Burton's occasional scenery chewing didn't detract significantly from his interpretation of Mark Antony. But the question remains over what might have been. I believe any true film buff would want to pass final judgment on this production only after having viewed the 6 hour plus version in order to determine whether the extensive cuts (even in the new 2 DVD four hour version) were justified. I should add that the third disc of extras contributes greatly to the appreciation (especially where the director controversy and Burton-Taylor relationship is concerned) of what was attempted.
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