Part 1 Cleopatra. Compare the portrayal of Cleopatra in the 1963 film with representations of her in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century as discussed on the DVD Video ‘Cleopatra’. What aspects of her portrayal have changed or stayed the same, and why?
In terms of the portrayal of Cleopatra as a sexual entity; she moves on from being a subtle seductress in the 1963 production, and in some ways the 1964 production, to becoming more brazen in the use of her sexuality in the 1999 production and subsequent productions. In the 2005 production Cleopatra knows what she wants and takes it by any means necessary. In this case, by using sex as a means to an end, ‘undeterred by his absence at the most opportune moment, she selects and sleeps with one of his soldiers instead and passes off the resulting child as Caesar’s’ (Trevor Fear, speaking in ‘Cleopatra’, 2008, Chapter 4) This is in line with other interpretations of Cleopatra; such as those in the National Geographic’s documentary which states that ‘Legend portrayed her as a self-indulgent temptress who used sex and seduction to rule Egypt,’ (www.channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/egypt-unwrapped) These productions reflect an ever shifting change in society’s views of women. This is in terms of women’s sexual politics and of the perception of women as less sexually timid and in some ways more ‘masculine’.
In terms of how Cleopatra is seen as an archetypal woman of the times, in the 1963 production Cleopatra is portrayed as more assertive, confident and extremely strong-willed. She is portrayed as an astute politician ‘Cleopatra attempted to steer a shrewd path among the shifting sands of the violent civil conﬂicts of Rome.’ (Fear, 2008, p.18). In subsequent films she becomes progressively more masculine, more empowered and indeed more aggressive. That is apart from the production of ‘Carry on Cleo’, wherein she is portrayed as being extremely ‘dense’. This is an exaggerated version of all of the...
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