Potrayal of Cleopatra

AA100 The Arts Past and Present - Book 1 Reputations

Assignment 01 – Cleopatra

Throughout the 21st century Cleopatra has provided us with both a “historical figure and a legend” Cleopatra - The Arts Past and Present (AA100 DVD)Title 7 Chapter 1, The Open University .

We shall examine how two films, from 1934, and 1963 have represented her, noting the similarities and differences, in relation to the eras during which they were created.

Costumes and staging are one similarity; both films depicting splendour and extravagance. In the 1934 film “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”. Ibid,Title 7 Chapter 3.

Romance was present in both films. In 1934, more significantly where the story represented “Cleopatra’s destructive infatuation with..two great loves..and less as a queen and stateswoman”. Ibid Title 7 Chapter 2. Furthermore, the 1934 production demonstrated Colberre’s   “girly ditziness” 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 lighthearted fun”. Ibid, Title 7 Chapter 2

“Romance is still a cornerstone of this (1963) production” . Ibid, Title 7 Chapter 3. However,the   impression created a portrait of a shrewd stateswoman, “Cleopatra is widely read..in natural sciences…speaks seven languages proficiently”. Cleopatra “probed the weaknesses of her opponents and whose opulent nature overwhelms resistance”. Ibid,Title 7 Chapter 3. This was a film where the message was not just of romance.

Current issues were reflected in both films.   In 30’s the role in society of women changed: with voting, equal opportunities and pay. With divorce and pre-marital sex increasing, the Catholic Church took steps in policing the morals of the day – and Hollywood also had...