Antony and Cleopatra (1974)

TV Movie   |    |  Drama, History, Romance


Antony and Cleopatra (1974) Poster

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.


6.7/10
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31 March 2000 | bongoz
Defined Shakespeare
I was in high school when I saw this version of "Antony and Cleopatra" on the short-lived, occasional "ABC Theatre" on the US ABC television network. I had read Shakespeare in English Literature class, of course, and had even attended some local productions of Shakespeare plays, but seeing this production totally changed my view of the Bard, even theatre in general. This was the first time I ever watched a play and felt as if I was watching something real, viewing snippets of life in progress. The actors weren't mouthing lines and feigning emotions - they were real and they believed, and that made me believe as well.

Perhaps the intervening years have affected my memory, dimming the details, but I cannot forget the awe I felt watching Patrick Stewart's Enobarbus. When I had read the play in school, Enobarbus was a minor character, and his speeches weren't important. Stewart's performance changed that. Now the role was central, and his descent from cheer to madness was a mirror of his world. Cleopatra's knowing chuckle as she spoke of her "salad days" was a lament as well a whimsey.

At that age, I may have been ripe for a change in my world view, but I cannot deny that it was "Antony and Cleopatra" that provided it. Ever since I have compared my response to a performance to that I felt from this production. Patrick Stewart has certainly gone on to "bigger and better" things in the last quarter century, but for me he'll always be Enobarbus, the man who defined Shakespeare for me.

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