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Octavius Caesar (later renamed Augustus Caesar, son of the murdered Julius Caesar), Marc Antony, and Lepidus form the triumvirate, the three rulers of the Roman Empire. Antony, though married to Fulvia, spends his time in Egypt, living a life of decadence and conducting an affair with Queen Cleopatra. In Antony's absence, Caesar and Lepidus worry about Pompey's increasing strength. Caesar condemns Antony for neglecting his duties as a statesman and military officer. Hearing that his wife, Fulvia, has died and that Pompey is raising an army to rebel against the triumvirate, Antony feels he must return to Rome. Caesar and Antony try to patch up their quarrel through the marriage of Antony to Caesar's sister Octavia. In Egypt, Cleopatra is told that Antony has married and is furious with jealousy. However, when the messenger says that Octavia is not very beautiful, Cleopatra feels confident that she can win Antony back. The triumvirs meet Pompey, who agrees to keep peace in exchange for ... Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <email@example.com>
When shooting the scene with the snake, actress Jane Lapotaire, who was afraid of snakes even prior to the shoot, became quite panicked when the snake suddenly slithered down the back of her dress. See more »
Shakespeare's great play Antony & Cleopatra (1981) (TV) was directed by Jonathan Miller for the BBC. As with all the BBC Shakespeare productions, this film attempts to give us Shakespeare's plays as we think people would have seen them in Shakespeare's time. Costumes are excellent, but props are sparse and we don't ever see a cast of thousands.
The lovely Jane Lapotaire plays Cleopatra--whether childish or, later, older and wiser--in a direct and excellent fashion. Colin Blakely makes a fine Antony. However, in my opinion, Ian Charleson. as Octavius Caesar, gets the acting honors. I think that Charleson acts the part exactly the way it was written. In essence, he is telling us that Antony is ruled by his heart, but he, Caesar, is ruled by his head. Ultimately, of course, Octavius Caesar prevails in the play, as he did in history.
I enjoy the BBC Shakespeare movies because we don't have to accept a director's "concept" of what he or she wants to do with the play. It isn't shown in modern times, with automatic rifles instead of swords, it isn't shown with huge armies or navies doing battle. It's essentially a stage play, adapted very well for the small or large screen.
I have studied Shakespeare on film, so I have a standard of comparison based on what I have seen from non-BBC productions. If you want leaps of creativity, and the director's thoughts about how Antony would look as a World War II general, look elsewhere. If you want to see the play based on the text, look at the BBC production.
P.S. As I write this review, this movie has a horribly low IMDb rating of 6.1. It's much better than that. Find it and see it. It was made for the small screen, so, obviously, will work well on DVD.
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