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
Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz was fired during post-production. Since he wrote the script as he was shooting, 20th Century-Fox soon realized that only Mankiewicz knew how the story fit together. He was brought back to complete the project. See more »
Following the assassination of Caesar, Agrippa is depicted in two scenes as seated in the Curia wearing a senatorial toga. In reality, Agrippa was a hereditary member of the Equestrian order and therefore prohibited under Republican law from either non-invitational attendance in the Curia, or the wearing of patrician insignia. Likewise, prior to Caesar's death and his succession, Octavian is seen seated in the Curia, when he himself would only appear if he was invited. See more »
[after the execution of Pothinus]
Return Apollodorus's dagger to him, but clean it first. It has Pothinus all over it.
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Premiered at a length of 243 minutes. A week after the premiere, the film was reduced to 222 minutes, and edited further to 194 minutes for general release. The 194-minute version was the default broadcast television version for years; home video and cable television releases are of the full-length cut. See more »
Regarded as the biggest flop (at least until "Ishtar") in motion picture history, "Cleopatra" has been given the short end of the stick since it first premiered in 1963 but it still is a great film. True, it did plague 20th Century Fox to the point of near bankruptcy (until "The Sound of Music" saved it in 1965) and Elizabeth Taylor's health overshadowed the film schedule but there are more good things about the film than there are bad, the backlashing of the film has just blown itself all out of proportion. Richard Burton and Elizabeth's much-publicized offscreen love affair grew to such a feverishly fiery degree that it made their onscreen relationship as Antony and Cleopatra all the more genuine. Rex Harrison as Caesar is first-rate as well and yet he was the only one out of the entire cast that received an Oscar nomination (Richard Burton was one who should have been in the running as well... his performance is equal to his earlier work in "The Robe" and later in "Becket" and "Anne of the Thousand Days"). Miss Taylor is very commanding in the role of her career and as a result few remember Claudette Colbert's earlier turn as Egypt's most memorable ruler in Cecil B. De Mille's 1934 version. The one point I want to make is that the film should have gotten more praise than it did... like "The Wizard of Oz", "Fantasia" and "It's a Wonderful Life" it seems to get more appreciation by it's second generation than it did it's first.
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