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Based on the novel The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George, this
mini-series is an okay adaption of a truly fascinating piece of
literature. I think that it gives a fairer portrayal of Cleopatra is
important, though Leonor Varela isn't that good an actress. I found her
acting so amateurish next to that of Timothy Dalton and Billy Zane; at
least she was better than Kassandra Voyagis was as Arsinoe. Also she
made Cleopatra seem very childish and whiny at times, which was
Otherwise I liked this story, Timothy Dalton as Julius Caesar was fine in the role, though too dark and good looking (someone tell Daniel Craig please play Caesar sometime in his career!) and Billy Zane did a good job as Marc Antony. The sets lived up to what Alexandria probably looked like, except there was little sign of the Greek influence on the city. The costumes were lovely and the supporting cast were some of the best (though I could have changed some of their lines for them), and I was able to overlook historical inaccuracies, such as Arsinoe being murdered in the dungeons of the palace of Alexandria under Cleopatra's orders. Arsinoe appeared as a prisoner in Caesar's Triumph, and since the public showed sympathy for her, Caesar allowed her to be released. They also didn't explain at the end that Caesarion was executed under Octavian's orders, but I guess they wanted to leave the audience with a bit of hope. Fine to watch on a wet or snowy afternoon.
What can I say? I love watching these Egyptian movies! Although this Cleopatra did not surpass the one made in 1963 with Elizabeth Taylor, it is well worth seeing. The acting is very good, especially Billy Zane! The thing I like better about this movie than the old one is that it focuses a lot more on Cleopatra's son, Ptomely Ceasar, also know as Caesarion. The old one said nothing about Octavian trying to kill Caesarion. There are some very,...how should I put this..."revealing" scenes in it. (If you know what I mean.) The antagonist, Octavian, makes a wonderful villain and you just can't help but hate him! The special effects in the movie sometimes go un-noticed, but they are very good as well. There are a few scenes where someone is be-headed that are very good. The movie is not very gory, but there is a lot of fighting. The ending, as in the old one, leaves you hanging. (If someone knows what happens to Cleopatra's son please tell me!) I hope this movie is available to buy sometime soon, because I will definitely add it to my collection!
The movie deals upon the epic lives of Cleopatra (Leonor Varela) ,
Julius Caesar (Timothy Dalton) , Marcus Antonius (Billy Zane) and
Octavius Augustus (Rupert Graves) . It's created the first triumvirate
formed by Caesar , Pompeyus and Crasus . Caesar fights against Pompeyus
who's vanquished in Farsalia . Julius goes to Alejandria , Tolomeo
hands over the Pompeyo's head to Caesar who rules over Egypt and gives
up the throne to Cleopatra . After that , Julius Caesar is killed by
Bruto (Sean Petwee) and Casio (Bruce Payne) . Later on , it happens the
second triumvirate : Marc Anthony commands Egypt , Lepido rules Africa
and Octavio Augustus governs over Rome and Hispania . Marc Anthony is
married to Octavia , Augustus's sister . After that , Marcus Antonius
is wedded to Cleopatra , but they are defeated by Octavio Augustus
(Rupert Graves) in Actium .
Runtime film is overblown , it's a little bit boring but the history aficionados will appeal too much . The picture obtained various nominations for television prizes but achieved none . The battle scenarios are breathtaking , they have been made by computer generator special effects and thousands of extras . First range set design , the film is very atmospheric , Roman time is well designed . Timothy Dalton's interpretation is top notch , likeness to Billy Zane , Leonor Varela is beautiful and enjoyable . Frank Roddan's direction is excellent and Trevor Jones musical score is riveting . Rating : 6,5 . Well worth catching
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(This comment contains specific examples of the story and plot that some
might consider spoilers. If you have not seen the movie, you might want to
wait until you have seen it to read this comment.)
This latest remake of Cleopatra is well done and surprisingly good for a TV movie (now in rental). I saw it on VHS in its entirety rather than broken down into two parts in the mini-series.
The costumes and sets were very well done, and true to the period. The battle scenes were lacking in realism, probably due to the prospects of a TV audience. The naval battles looked a little too much like toy models (which of course they were). The slave galleys showing the men rowing the boats were pristine and shiny like the cabin of some rich yacht, an obvious error.
My biggest bewilderment came over the fact that they shot this movie on video tape. They tried to make it look like film in the post production, but it didn't work. This seems to be fairly common practice in TV movies, but for a movie of this magnitude, where they obviously had a big budget for numerous sets, hundreds of extras, costumes and the like, why shoot it on video tape? It detracted from the overall richness of the photography and the movie as a whole. This is particularly disappointing since the sets and costumes were so meticulously well done.
The directing in this movie was very good. Franc Roddam coordinated the movements of large groups of people in very realistic ways. The camera work was very good and gave the viewer a lot of interesting perspectives. Unfortunately, there were some serious liberties taken with historical fact. For instance the film shows Ptolemy to be a cowering 12 years old when Caesar arrives in 47 BC. He was actually 19. It shows Caesar demanding that Cleopatra marry her brother, but she was married to him long before Caesar arrived in Egypt. The film shows Cleopatra having her sister Arsinoe killed and her brother-husband being killed in pursuit before Caesar left, but neither of those things happened. As a matter of fact, both were alive and well in 44 BC when Caesar was murdered.
Also, there is no definitive evidence that Cleopatra's son was fathered by Caesar and certainly no evidence that Caesar publicly declared such.
The biggest perversion of the truth was the death of Mark Antony. He did not die from wounds received in a naval battle. He committed suicide. Cleopatra realized that Octavian would defeat Antony and felt she had to get rid of him for political reasons. So she had her servants send word to him that she was dead and in grief he fell on his sword.
The story completely neglects her attempt at trying to seduce Octavian and his rebuking of her. It treats their last encounter more like a business negotiation. This was not inconsequential since it was one of the motivations for her suicide.
The acting was extremely well done. First honors go to Timothy Dalton for a powerful rendition of Caesar. He was both potent and passionate, just the way one would expect a brilliant ego maniac like Caesar to be.
Billy Zane delivered an excellent performance of the complex Mark Antony. I've seen criticism of his portrayal as being too sniveling with Cleopatra, but in reality he was utterly submissive to her and despite being a powerful leader, he was her emotional slave. He was torn between Rome and his obsession with Cleopatra, and continually submitted to her will. He carried off the internal conflict very well.
Leonor Varela is a newcomer and a little rough around the edges. In certain areas, she was magnificent. She captured the cunning seductiveness of Cleopatra, using her siren sexuality as a weapon to achieve her aims. She looked stunningly alluring, and her many translucent robes sometimes made it difficult to concentrate on the dialogue. Unfortunately, she tended to overact the emotional parts, especially rage. Hopefully, she will improve with experience.
I rated this movie a 7/10. If it were shot on film I probably would have added at least a point, maybe two. It was extremely entertaining and I would recommend those who missed it on TV to rent the video.
According to the budget most of the TV-films have, I should tell that Martin Hitchcock did some great work as production designer and Enrico Sabbatini created some convincing costumes. David Connell his cinematography is sometimes breathtaking, but in the scenes on water it sometimes looks very fake, a pity. The action has its moments, but don't expect to much of it, especially the special effects are quite weak. But that is not really a failure because they probably did not have enough money for spectacular battle scenes. The main character Cleopatra is portrayed by Leonor Varela, she isn't bad and performed some good dialogs, but she does have a few very mediocre appearances. The first half of the film focuses on the relationship of the Egyptian quine and Julius Caesar. Timothy Dalton is as usual impressing. And although he played better roles in his wonderful career he gives an interesting interpretation of the Roman conqueror. The second part concerns about Cleopatra her interferences in the Roman civil war between Marc Antony and Octavian, both strong performances by Billy Zane and Rupert Graves. The most interesting supporting roles were Olympos (Art Malik), Brutus (Sean Pertwee) and Rufo (John Bowe). They did some good work with those roles, but Kassandra Voyagis (as Arsinoe, sister of Cleopatra) is painful to watch, she is a disturbing factor, and the actors appear to act more relaxed and with more confidence when her character isn't around anymore. This production outreaches the standard quality of an OK TV-film. And although there are some disappointing shots I think it is worth to watch, just do not be in the mood for a great epic adventure with tons of spectacle. Remember it is made for television.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yeah, THIS IS THE BEST VERSION OF CLEOPATRA THAT I SAW IN MY LIFE, i saw another version but they were not pleasant, in change this version or series for TV, is special, clear, love,betray, i could feel the feeling of the actors and actress. Wonderful the interpretation of Marc Anthony (Billy Zane),Julious Caesar (Timothy Dalton) and Cleopatra (Leonor Varela). I m from Peru and it was too hard to have this movie, ONE FRIEND SENT IT TO ME FROM UNITED STATES.Really this version must give around the world... But i have that movie....and i m happy to see it, many times...yeah many times.....Gloria Anticona, from Perú. Really all the passion, betrayed, of this movie is very nice.
This film was fun and entertaining, for sure, Timothy Dalton as Ceasar and Billy Zane as Marc Anthony were brilliant, in my opinion. And Leonor Varela did an OK job as Cleopatra, i think. The story is fine, i liked the cinematography and costumes, but the battle scenes are very poor, to be honest. But i guess that is to be expected of a TV movie. The most important thing for me tho was Cleopatra herself, because i am a big fan. I used to read many books about her when i was younger, and she always fascinated me. She still does. I doubt she was beautiful to the standards of our time, but when i saw Cleopatra in this movie, i didn't care, i wanted to believe she was as completely insanely beautiful and seductive as Leonor Varela is in this movie. A few times in this film she says that she's a goddess, and she does indeed look like one, amazing!
Cleopatra is one of the most fascinating figures from history. This
1999 TV movie does a good job of telling her story from her point of
view. Granted Leonor Varela is a bit off, but she's not bad and the
movie moves very well, its hard to believe its almost 3 hours, its time
that never feels wasted. The story of Egypt's last great queen and her
Roman lovers Julius Caesar and Marc Antony have been told before, most
notably in '63 with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, this film is
close to that and in some ways better.
Billy Zane is terrific here, he plays Antony better than Burton! Zane remembers Antony was a solider who was prodded into lofty ambition by Cleopatra, even pitting Roman against Roman and splitting an empire, in his heart he must have known he couldn't succeed, Zane never lets your forget that and his performance should have been honored. Timothy Dalton is a good Caesar too. He plays the conqueror full on, ambitious and powerful, but not a monster or a hero, just a man who wanted glory for Rome. His assassination is well handled here. Rupert Graves is a slimy Octavian (Augustus) and does well as the villain.
The look of the film is pretty good, though at times it feels like a filmed play. The music is unmoving, but the fx shots tolerable. The battle of Actium is brief but accurate, Antony always rushed in like a bull. For a TV move they manage to be sexy and violent, two things necessary to tell Cleo's story. The birth of Cesarion is realistic.
The only real downer here is I think this movie was made, or at least planned before the discovery of records found in the sea that told of Antony and Cleo's great love and of the fact they did have children! At least 4, including a set of twins. It is also possible that a girl was saved from Octavian's butchery. The rest did not make, including, probably Cesarion. Unfortunately we don't see that here and the end, though well played, is just like earlier versions. Still this is historical fiction at its best. Well done!
I have never seen the other movies on the story of Cleopatra, only parts of them. I don't think Liz Taylor looks like an Epytian. But then I saw this Film. It's fantastic! Leonor Varela is the ideal cast. She is beautiful and human. You can always feel with her, but also see, what were her faults. Sometimes she's like a little girl, then a cold-blooded ruler, then a selfless guardian of her people, and she lives for her love. Also the colours are amazing. The cast is perfect. This film is simply the best Cleopatra-film. You can't make a better one.
The sets, costumes and backdrops are kaleidoscopic with meticulous
to detail. Timothy Dalton brought his years of stage work to the part and
Caesar seemed bigger than life. He has seasoned well in the years since
playing 007 and his strong masculine presence, rich baritone and passion
carried part 1. He is convincing in his love for Cleopatra and their son.
Leonor did her best to educate us to Cleopatra's fierce Patriotism. Her
curvy figure in the filmy costumes came to life with a feline fluidity.
Billy Zane makes a good choice for the young brash Antony, a loyal
soldier/playful child. His huge smile and coltish antics would be
not to like. His intense shame at comrades and battles lost, is moving
So what is not to like in this film? Leonor's lack of acting experience
drained life from this story. She managed playing the spoiled rich girl
well enough. But her many temper tantrums and pouting ways lacked depth.
Dalton carried their love scenes. But alas, the sophomoric grappling of
Leonor and Zane in part 2 was anything but passionate. It is hard to
that scene wasn't reshot. They looked like they were playing Twister in
drag. Zane did well playing the good soldier, but a man not suited for
leadership. For all this, renting this video is well worth the time. Its
adherence to history far outdoes the Taylor/Burton film.
And watching the 'love scene' between Leonor and Zane in fast forward mode will always good for a laugh.
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