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Antony & Cleopatra (1981)

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

Director:

Jonathan Miller

Writer:

William Shakespeare (play)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Paul John Paul ... Canidius
Jonathan Adams ... Ventidius
Jane Lapotaire ... Cleopatra
Colin Blakely ... Antony
Darien Angadi Darien Angadi ... Alexas
Janet Key Janet Key ... Charmian
Howard Goorney Howard Goorney ... Soothsayer
Cassie McFarlane Cassie McFarlane ... Iras
Emrys James Emrys James ... Enobarbus
Kevin Huckstep Kevin Huckstep ... Messenger
Michael Anthony Michael Anthony ... Messenger
Mohammad Shamsi Mohammad Shamsi ... Mardian
Ian Charleson ... Octavius Caesar
Esmond Knight ... Lepidus
Harry Waters Harry Waters ... Thidias
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Storyline

Octavius Caesar (later renamed Augustus Caesar, adoptive son of the murdered Julius Caesar), Mark 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 ... Written by Fiona Kelleghan <fkelleghan@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 May 1981 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Antony & Cleopatra See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is one of only two episodes in which original Shakespearean text was substituted with additional material (the other was Love's Labour's Lost (1985)). Controversially, Jonathan Miller and his script editor David Snodin cut Act 3, Scene 10 and replaced it with the description of the Battle of Actium from Plutarch's Parallel Lives, which is delivered as an onscreen legend overlaying a painting of the battle. See more »

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User Reviews

triumph of unconventional casting?
23 July 2003 | by didi-5See all my reviews

Starring Jane Lapotaire and Colin Blakely, this BBC production looked unconventional from the start, with the willowy Lapotaire proving an able Queen of Egypt to the squat and rough soldier created by Blakely.

Little glamour here but excellent performances from the leads (plus Ian Charleson as Octavius Caesar and Emrys James as Enobarbus) and an intriguing array of supporting performers. Like all the BBC Shakespeares, this suffers from being a little stage-bound in its feel, a recorded performance rather than a tv drama, but within those confines remains an appealing and accessible work.

Those who have criticised the casting of Blakely have perhaps missed the point of Antony and Cleopatra (or taken too much notice of the glossy Taylor/Burton epic). Antony is first and foremost a soldier, and this is what attracts Cleopatra, not necessarily a physical attraction. This said, Jane Lapotaire puts a certain amount of passion in her portrayal of the Egyptian queen which works well. Although this version of the play has dated it remains in the top handful of the BBC complete Shakespeares.


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