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Antony and Cleopatra (1972)

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After the murder of her lover Caesar, Egypt's queen Cleopatra needs a new ally. She seduces his probable successor Marc Antony. This develops into real love and slowly leads to a war with the other possible successor - Octavius.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hildegard Neil ...
Eric Porter ...
Juan Luis Galiardo ...
Carmen Sevilla ...
Peter Arne ...
Luis Barboo ...
Fernando Bilbao ...
Roger Delgado ...


After the murder of her lover Caesar, Egypt's queen Cleopatra needs a new ally. She seduces his probable successor Marc Antony. This develops into real love and slowly leads to a war with the other possible successor - Octavius.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History


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Release Date:

18 March 1972 (Japan)  »

Also Known As: Anfang war das Schwert - Antony und Cleopatra  »

Box Office


$1,600,000 (estimated)


ESP 39,776,701 (Spain)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Glenda Jackson and Susannah York were considered for the role of Cleopatra. See more »


Version of Cleopatra (1910) See more »

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User Reviews

One of the handsomest and most vividly cinematic Shakespeare adaptations
9 August 2010 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Barely seen since it opened in 1972, Charlton Heston's Antony and Cleopatra is one of the handsomest and most vividly cinematic Shakespeare adaptations – this is first and foremost a film, and one whose epic scale often belies its surprisingly modest budget with judicious use of leftover sets from 50s and 60s epics, some well chosen Spanish locations, a bit of stock footage from Fox's Cleopatra and an impressive supporting cast. If anything the supporting cast are almost too impressive, often showing up actor-director Heston's weaknesses with the Bard's verse. While his co-stars generally favor a more naturalistic style, at times Heston goes for the kind of declamatory style that values the sound of the words rather than the meaning, a common pitfall with Shakespeare films. In his favor, Heston has the epic stature and presence to convince as a superstar of the ancient world whose fool for love act is revealing feet of clay that at first dismays and then sets his fans against him with fatal consequences, and his performance improves as he uses it against himself to expose the character's increasingly obvious flaws.

A labor of love for Heston (who apparently included use of stock footage from Cleopatra in his deal to make Beneath the Planet of the Apes), there's some real imagination in the staging – he sets Antony and Octavian's first meeting against a gladiatorial combat, while the aftermath of the battle of Actium is played out amid the wreckage on the beach - and great visuals – Heston really understands the scale of the story and the value of real locations as well as the occasional need for the kind of movement and energy that's so often missing from Shakespeare films. Not everything works (there's some flashcut inserts in a couple of scenes that are probably better as ideas than in execution), and it does tend to drag a bit in the last third, but then so does the play, yet there's more than enough here to mark Heston out as a more intelligent and imaginative director than he was ever given credit for.

It's also surprisingly well cast. Despite attracting much critical derision, Hildegard Neil is a convincingly mercurial Cleopatra, John Castle makes his Octavian equally disappointed and ruthless and there's strong support from Julian Glover, Douglas Wilmer, Jane Lapotoire, Peter Arne, Roger Delgado, John Hallam, Joe Melia and Fernando Rey (surprisingly well dubbed by Richard Johnson, who also dubs Aldo Sambrell and Juan Luis Galiardo). Even serial overactor Freddie Jones is kept under control for once as Pompey. But the film's outstanding performance is easily Eric Porter's Enobarbus, easily the finest Shakespeare performance I've ever seen on screen, managing at once to bring the verse to life without ever losing sight of the human being beneath it: his rapturous ode to "the barge she sat in" paints a far more spectacular and magical picture in the mind than anything in Joseph Mankiewicz's 1963 epic (though some of the footage from the Battle of Actium does turn up in the battle scenes). Equally worthy of star billing is John Scott's remarkable score, one of the best and most sadly overlooked of the 70s, and a thing of real beauty in its own way too. Given a rough ride by critics in its day and now extremely hard to find (there's a cut Spanish DVD and a surprisingly good uncut – minus the overture – widescreen transfer that was given away with a Greek newspaper and can be found on ebay), it's well worth a look.

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