What do the representations of Cleopatra in film and on television (as shown on the DVD Video ‘Cleopatra’) tell us about how her reputation changed over time? Discuss with reference to two or three representations
Cleopatra’s changes over time are best shown in the 1917 and 1963 films and in the modern day television showings of Cleopatra. This is right from the first time Cleopatra is shown in films right through to the current times, thus giving a broader time to be able to evaluate how her reputation has changed due to Hollywood’s interpretation of the current affairs. The aspects that change the most are the political, social, ethnic and finally the sexual portrayals of Cleopatra. In the 1917 silent film where ‘Bara portrayed the queen with a threatening and ominous air’ (Cleopatra, 1917, in ‘Cleopatra’, 2008; see transcript p.1), which reflects how women of power were seen during this time, if they were powerful then they was dangerous. Bara was a white American, which shows that the ethnicity of Cleopatra was not at the fore frontal idea rather that it was an actress with credibility and believability to play Cleopatra in a silent film. Also as a major focus during this film is the sexual manipulation that Cleopatra uses in order to get what she wants, which also relates back to how women were seen during this period of history. Sexual manipulation is an aspect that reoccurs in each of the films and television representations of Cleopatra. Elizabeth Taylor portrayed Cleopatra in the 1963 film, where compared to the 1917 film, she was more sexualised, yet more intellectual and political as women are seen as less dangerous when in power as women in the USA have had the ability to vote for 43 years. Whilst there is a more political Cleopatra, mimicking the currents affairs of the UN as says ‘one world… not one world, one nation.’ (Cleopatra, 1963 in ‘Cleopatra’, 2008; see transcript p.4). It still does not replicate the changes in the world in...
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