Cleopatra Portrayal

Assignment 1

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 the 1963 film it was lavish, spectacular romantic production. Sex was only hinted at never openly portrayed. She was more the romantic heroine than the sexual predator as in the later films shown her to be .She was however a shrew business woman and “she used the preconceptions the romans have about her….acting them out to turn them to her own advantage” (DVD, 2008). As shown in the scene where Caesar and his generals are discussing her as she listens in secret and she says to her hand maiden COMMA “We must not disappoint the mighty Caesar. The Romans tell fabulous tales of my baths and hand maidens….and my morals.”

The film is also seen to be reflecting the changing world at the time when it was made. When Cleopatra was standing by the tomb of Alexander talking to Caesar about creating a ‘single world culture’ (DVD, 2008 ), it was reflecting the influence of the United Nations and influential political figures. Also the off screen romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton only added to the public interest where the past and present combined in a romantic love story which fuelled the films popularity.

  Cleopatra has remained a topical figure and her portrayal has changed as society has and as we go into the later part of the twentieth century she becomes more blatantly sexual but still retains the glamour of the previous films. In ‘Xena-Warrior Princess’ Xena pretends to be Cleopatra and portrays her as a manipulative sexual tool using sex to get what she wants.

In Rome (2005) Cleopatra was still beautiful but with more an exotic look, dark hair and eyes not so European looking as in the 1963 film. Sex was more blatantly used as a tool to get...