So I decided to write about a movie that I like and will remember all my life. The movie I am writing about is Cleopatra (1963, directed by Joseph Leo Mankiewicz). The screenplay was adapted from a book by Carlo Maria Franzero, and the 1963 version starred the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor.
This movie was filmed over several years and had a budget of about 44 million dollars (the equivalent of 320 million dollars in 2011). This was partly due to the fact that the film's elaborate, complicated sets, costumes and props had to be constructed twice, once during a botched shoot in London and once more when the production relocated to Rome. The film received 4 Academy Awards.
I first watched this movie a very long time ago when I was a little girl. Although that first time I didn’t really get to “watch” it. I was only 10 years old, and my parents thought it was too grown up and serious for me. They sent me to bed, but they couldn’t stop me from listening. I listened to the whole movie from another room. My imagination allowed me to see the movie without watching it.
The film tells us the story of life and love of the beautiful Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor), the famed queen of Egypt. She was a woman with the will to do anything to preserve the greatness of her people. The story began in a time of struggle for power and the Egyptian throne when young Cleopatra was expelled from the palace by her stupid and selfish teenage brother Ptolemy. Being an intelligent and educated woman, Cleopatra realized that she needed the help of a strong ally - such an ally came in the form of the Roman Empire and its dictator Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison). Together they decided to unite Egypt and Rome into one great empire. Cleopatra was a true beauty and Caesar was intrigued by her strong character and spirit. It isn’t surprising that he fell in love with her. Confirmation of their political and amorous union became fact when Cleopatra was crowned Queen of Egypt and their newborn son, Caesarion, was introduced to the empire. She dreamed of ruling the world with Caesar. However, like all great people, Cleopatra and Caesar had enemies, very powerful enemies – Rome and the Senate were offended that Caesar accepted young Caesarion publicly. They formed a conspiracy against Caesar, and ultimately his own nephew Brutus was one of his murderers. After Caesar's death, Cleopatra’s only ally and protector was the Roman general Mark Antony (Richard Burton). Fortune once again presented love to Cleopatra. Together they decided to continue with Caesar's idea about the creation of a single great empire, but Caesar’s successor, Octavian (Roddy McDowall), declared war on both of them.
Due to numerous political intrigues, Anthony believed that Cleopatra no longer loved him, so he committed suicide. Cleopatra, who didn’t want to be paraded through Rome as a prize and trophy by Octavian, also decided to kill herself. The grandeur and sweeping scope of this story as presented in this once in a lifetime film that starred once in a generation actors and actresses has left a permanent impression on my mind. I know if you take the time to watch this classic you will feel the same way.
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