In 48 B.C., Julius Caesar (Sir Rex Harrison) pursues Pompey from Pharsalia to Egypt. Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII (Richard O'Sullivan), now supreme ruler after deposing his older sister, Cleopatra VII (Dame Elizabeth Taylor), attempts to gain favor with Caesar by presenting the conquerer with the head of Pompey, borne by his governors, Pothinus (Grégoire Aslan) and Achillas (John Doucette). To win Caesar's support from her brother, Cleopatra hides herself in a rug, which Apollodorus (Cesare Danova), 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 (Loris Loddi), 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 (Richard Burton), Caesar's protégé, beholds Cleopatra...Written by
Actors and actresses arrived from all over the world every day, and most of them were not met at the plane because of major transportation problems. According to the producer Walter Wanger, the housing department neglected to get the right accommodations, which made for even more chaos. See more »
Cleopatra recalls to Antony that she saw him for the first time when she was 12 years old. Antony was a cavalry commander for Roman military operations in Egypt and Judea when Cleopatra was 15 or 16 years old, so she may have seen and recognized him from back then, but they did not meet until 41 or 42 BCE when he summoned her to Tarsus to question her about her loyalty to Caesar. See more »
And so it fell out that at Pharsalia, the great might and manhood of Rome met in bloody civil war, and Caesar's legions destroyed those of the great Pompey... So, that now only Caesar stood at the head of Rome. But, there was no joy for Caesar as in his other triumphs... for the dead which his legions counted and buried and burned were their own countrymen.
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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 »
Once again I have watched the complete Cleopatra (or at least the complete Cleopatra available). In addition, because I watched the DVD version of the movie, I also was able to view the outstanding documentary "Cleopatra: The Film that Changed Hollywood". And, once again, I am all but overwhelmed by the movie. Elizabeth Taylor may very well be one of the most under-rated actresses of the last fifty years; her public private life has always overshadowed her acting ability. But it is not her notoriety that puts her in the same league with other two time Oscar winners like Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Tom Hanks, etc. In Cleopatra, as in George Stevens' Giant, she runs the gamut from adolescent to matriarch, from calculating queen to devastated lover, and rings every bell in between. But her performance alone does not make the movie. Not only is she supported by Burton, in one of his best screen performances, and Rex Harrison, in one of his best, Taylor's old friend Roddy McDowall gives the performace of his lifetime (how sad that a clerical error cost him his Oscar); we see a young Martin Landau, a young Carroll O'Connor, a young Jean Marsh, give performances worthy of anything they've ever put on screen since. The documentary points out that the original Mankiewicz cut of the film was 6 1/2 hours long and that Fox is currently trying to reassemble the film as originally cut. If they ever succeed in doing so, I would stand in line to see it in theatres and buy it on DVD the first chance I got. As a history freak, it more than satisfies; as a fan of brilliant acting, it wows! Everyone should see it at least once!
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