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Cleopatra

Cleopatra

By Patrick Samuel • December 17th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
CLEOPATRA (MOVIE)
20th Century Fox

Original release: July 31st, 1963
Running time: 248 minutes

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Writers: Sidney Buchman, Ranald MacDougall, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, C.M. Franzero

Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowall

Cleopatra

Even among queens, the ancient Egyptian Cleopatra, remains something special, unearthly and utterly powerful. Still today she’s admired and remains a strong influence, either in politics, fashion or feminist attitudes. She was a woman loved, worshipped, feared and hated. It should’ve come as no surprise then that one of Hollywood’s most sensual, beautiful and undeniably talented actresses would covet the role in what turned out to be one of history’s most talk-about biopics.

Based on the novel The Life and Times of Cleopatra by C.M. Franzero, this re-telling of the queen’s affair with Julius Caeser who then, following his murder, turns her affections to Mark Antony, is famous for its tumultuous production and escalating budget which almost sent 20th Century Fox into bankruptcy. The film begins with Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) arriving in Egypt to help resolve the differences between Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) and her brother, the young Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII (Richard O’Sullivan).

Cleopatra and Caeser begin an affair and she takes the throne of Egypt once Ptolemy has been dealt with. Not content to rule just Egypt, she then sets her sights on the world, with Ceaser at her side. When they leave for Rome, she is welcomed with much adoration but it is here that the senators plot and carry out Ceaser’s murder.

The queen returns to Egypt without her king, realising Rome holds no future for her. Mark Antony (Richard Burton), one of Ceaser’s friends and supporters, forms a political alliance with Octavian (Roddy McDowall), Caesar’s nephew and heir. He falls in love with Cleopatra who demands a third of the empire. Their union acts as a catalyst for war when the rivalry between Octavian and Antony reaches its boiling point and the Battle of Actium begins, ultimately dooming the lovers.
Cleopatra

Cleopatra’s original budget was initially $2 million and during its production it rose to a staggering $44 million to cover the cost of the sets, props, costumes and delays which threatened to shut the studio down and forced Fox to start selling off huge sections of its backlot. Elizabeth Taylor’s fee alone eventually rose to $7 million. For all that surrounded its production, Cleopatra emerged as a stunning epic and Taylor lights up the screen with her portrayal of this fascinating icon. With her dazzling beauty and hypnotic eyes she commands our attention and dares us not to be bewitched.

Despite its length there’s not a moment wasted but what makes it an interested study is the juxtaposition of image, presented by Cleopatra, and democracy, presented by the Romans. Throughout the film there’s this conflict that exists between the two, leading up to an end we know only too well. It’s a truly fitting portrayal of a queen by another queen and nobody could have done it better than Taylor, not then and not now. The film is stunning and royal in itself, and for Taylor, an incredible legacy as well.

Cleopatra

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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