The legendary story of Cleopatra has endured for over two thousand years. Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1963 epic movie, “Cleopatra”, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison and Richtard Burton depicts the end of Ancient Egypt’s Ptolemaic dynasty with the fall of Cleopatra. Cleopatra was in fact the last of the great the pharaohs of Egypt and it can be said that she was as famous as Elizabeth Taylor who had been chosen to portray the fascinating ruler. Cleopatra was an intelligent woman who was a shrewd leader. She had ruled Egypt for approximately twenty-two years with the help of first Julius Caesar and then Mark Antony. To preserve her dynasty in the face of the looming Roman expansion she recognized that an alliance with Rome was needed. (Schiff) While Mankiewicz’s movie is generally historically accurate, the director often strays or seems to embellish actual events in order to increase the entertainment value for the audience. The movie’s interpretation of the government structure and politics, historical events and cross-cultural interactions seems to follow accepted historical facts. However, the movie does include some minor historical inaccuracies, which can be forgiven based on the director’s objective to produce an extraordinary account of one of history’s most fascinating and enduring figures. On balance, the 1963 movie can be considered to stay true to the major events during Cleopatra’s lifetime and the small embellishments to the story do not detract from the factual events but only serve to heighten the enjoyment of the movie.
In the movie, Roman government structure and politics is accurately portrayed. The movie references the conflict between two Roman leaders, Julius Caesar and Pompey. Pompey flees to Alexandria where is murdered on the orders of Cleopatra’s brother, Ptolemy. The Roman Senate, situated in Rome, is shown to hold much of the power and decision making authority. Later, after Caesar is victorious in his