Cleopatra (1963)

G   |    |  Biography, Drama, History


Cleopatra (1963) Poster

Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt experiences both triumph and tragedy as she attempts to resist the imperial ambitions of Rome.


7/10
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13 May 2006 | EdgarST
9
| Cleopatra
Joseph L. Mankiewicz laughed the last. His goal –a diptych to be released separately, rich in Shakespearean's tragic force, ample in scope, but intimate in tone- was betrayed by 20th Century Fox's chairman Darryl F. Zanuck, who butchered it into a four-hour film. In spite of all the troubles surrounding its production, "Cleopatra" defined big cinematic spectacle for me: I was 12 years old and saw it on a Cinerama screen. It was huge, and it was grandiose. Elizabeth Taylor carried the movie on her back, but she had not developed into a full dramatic actress yet; and Leon Shamroy's Oscar-winning cinematography ranged from dramatic lighting to flourishes of color that resemble the light show of a cabaret in La Habana. But the story was compelling, and everybody gave their best. It also became the entrepreneurial model for pre-selling movies before the cameras rolled. It did not have very good reviews, and 1960's yellow press, which had nothing to do with Mankiewicz's reflection of power and love, tarnished its values. By the 1980s a tendency to reevaluate the movie had grown, and moreover it became an icon of the big historical Hollywood spectacle. Not a masterpiece by scholars' standards, it is nevertheless the big opus in the career of Mankiewicz, maker of "All About Eve."

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