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 reputation has preceded her for generations. Themes of power, affluence and allurement have all been constant attributes in the manner of how she has been portrayed. Yet due to changing cultural, political and social attitudes we have seen Cleopatra's image in film and on television become more contemporary over time.
By looking at two famous representations separated by almost thirty years, we can see how a period of time of significant importance in regards to shifting attitudes towards issues such as gender effected Cleopatra's portrayal on the screen.
Cecil B de Mille's 1934 film-'Cleopatra' sees the reputedly powerful queen shown as 'flirtatious rather than threatening' (T.Fear,Cleopatra,2008,transcript p.1) at a time when, despite recently gaining the right to vote, women’s raising status in society still faced opposition.
An opposer to the 'rise of the 'new woman'' (T.Fear,Cleopatra,2008,transcript p.3) at the time would be satisfied with Cleopatra's story being played out as a love story rather than promoting a woman known to have had considerable power and influence. The Cleopatra here has her 'role as queen of Egypt replaced by that of a woman in love' (T.Fear,Cleopatra,2008,transcript p.2)
Almost three decades later, with arguably the most famous portrayal, Joseph Leo Mankiewicz's 1963 film of the same name, notably starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton at the time of their burgeoning romance, it is the 'coolly imperious' (T.Fear,Cleopatra,2008,transcript p.1) Cleopatra being represented. A commanding stateswoman-like figure whose power and influence is emphasised in scenes such as the one where she demands that Anthony kneels before her, Cleopatra this time carries such descriptions as...