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?
Throughout the 21st century Cleopatra, we have been presented with both a “historical figure and a legend” (Cleopatra, AA100 DVD, Title 7, Chapter 1, The Open University). Portrayal of the Hellenistic queen shall be examined from the films in eras 1934 and 1963. We shall take note of similarities and differences, in relation to the period during which they were produced. Romance is a reoccurring topic throughout each film. In 1934, we see a Cleopatra that is “flirtatious rather than threatening”. Furthermore, the 1934 production demonstrated Colbert’s inanity, with a storyline “reduced to a battle of the sexes” It would appear in this production that “dealing with the mighty Rome is just a bit of sophisticated fun” (Ibid Title 7, Chapter 1). Cleopatra (1934) is likely most memorable for its lavishness, while not being extreme as they had in the 1963 version. Romance is still ever present in the 1963 production. However, the concept created an image of a calculative and manipulative stateswoman. Confident and intelligent, speaking seven languages. Her superiority to understand the maps required from Julius Caesar, and sadness, while the great library of the ancient world burnt to the ground, gives an impression for love of knowledge. This was a film that expressed more than romance. One analogy are the costumes and staging. Depiction of extravagance and splendour are present in all Cleopatra films. In the 1934 version we see an adaptation renovated “to suit the art-deco age” “Huge pillars, distinctly shaped table legs, project an ambience of oriental splendour”. Ibid Title 7 Chapter 2. The 1963 production “took extravagance to a whole new level, nowhere is this opulence more evident than Cleopatra’s entry to Rome”....
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