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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Arabic, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian
  Extras
  • 6 Theatrical trailer - Includes advance trailers
  • 1 Audio commentary - By film historian Jack Brodsky, actor Martin Landau, Chris Mankiewicz and Tom Mankiewicz
  • 1 Featurette - The Fourth Star of Cleopatra
  • 5 Photo gallery - Comprising of 239 still images
  • Animated menus
  • 2 Behind the scenes footage - Movietone News Items: East Coast & West Coast Premieres
  • 1 Documentaries - Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood

Cleopatra - Special Edition

MGM/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 240 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Introduced into the households of middle-class America in the late 1940s, television was greeted with a mixture of curiosity by the public and scepticism from the Hollywood film industry, who contemptuously viewed the new medium as an insignificant fad which did not, at that time, pose a serious threat. However by the 1950s, it had grown into a leviathan, stripping the major studios of lucrative profit and decimating theatre attendance records by 40 percent. To protect their monopoly on the entertainment business, Hollywood retaliated with a series of new technological developments that heralded the arrival of the widescreen cinema format; CinemaScope, first exhibited in 1953, featuredstereophonic sound, and was the forerunner to the similar formats which were to follow, such as Cinerama and Todd-AO.

Designed to capitalise on the advent of these new screen cinematic breakthroughs and to entice patrons back into theatres, Hollywood embraced the “bigger-is-better” philosophy, producing innumerable large scale, lavishly budgeted Biblical epics - beginning with Henry Koster’s 1953 classic The Robe, famed as the first film to be presented in CinemaScope, yet simultaneously shot “flat.” Following The Robe’s success, other films of similar ilk (which became affectionately known as “swords-and-sandals” pictures) continued to be produced with each film progressively assuming a longer, more elaborate - and costlier - scope in a never-ending artistic attempt to rival, or even surpass, those before them. The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, Quo Vardis?, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and Demetrius and the Gladiators were just some of the prestigious pictures to be released throughout the 1950s.

Released in 1960, Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, featuring battle scenes influenced by Sergei Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky (1938), saw the Biblical epic enter into a new decade. Given such grand competition, it would have seemed that no film could possibly outshine the aforementioned pictures in majesty, scope, or reputation, especially when William Wyler’s 1959 masterpiece Ben-Hur had achieved such a legendary status as one of the most ambitious and technically breath-taking motion pictures ever committed to celluloid, that its name alone has entered into the vernacular - giving rise to the immortal catch-phrase “Bigger than Ben-Hur.” But, with its shooting schedule commencing in the year of Spartacus’ release and a production boasting sets larger than the mammoth Babylon stages featured in D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916), director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra managed to accomplish just that.

However, Cleopatra’s lacklustre performance (by 20th Century Fox’s estimation, at least) in US cinemas and the disastrous commercial reception of Anthony Mann’s The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), did not expand the boundaries of the Biblical epic or lift it to loftier heights but, instead, hastened its demise. The genre had reached its creative limits and floundered, though there is a hint of its possible resurrection in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (1999) which, through the use of advanced CGI, has all but eliminated the need to physically construct extravagant sets - a la Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra.

Gaining an unenviable, and undeserved, status as one of the most catastrophic box-office debacles of all time, Cleopatra has become notorious for its unrestrained excess - which witnessed its allocated $2 million budget spiral uncontrollably towards the then- unprecedented sum of $44 million - and its behind-the-scenes traumas, resulting in the most problematic and tortured production in Hollywood film history. Indeed, so monumental were the scale of its financial troubles, Cleopatra is often referred to as the film that nearly proved to be 20th Century Fox’s epitaph, but, fortunately, the besieged studio’s fortunes were buoyed by the success of its chief Darryl F. Zanuck’s World War II epic, The Longest Day (1962), and revitalised with Robert Wise’s unexpected box-office smash The Sound of Music (1965), which prevented the studio from sliding into potential receivership or liquidation.

Based on J. Gordon Edwards’ 1917 silent version of Cleopatra, starring cinema’s first true screen vamp, Theda Bara (her name an anagram of Arab Death), Makiewicz’s remake seemed destined for trouble right from its initial conception. In 1958, actress Joan Collins was allocated the title role having successfully completed her screen tests, but due to numerous delays in the film’s production and her commitment to other projects, she became unavailable; ironically, Collins reprised a similar role as an Egyptian queen in Land of the Pharaohs (1955). Following Collins’ departure, Cleopatra’s producer Walter Wanger considered several esteemed actresses - including such Hollywood illumini as Audrey Hepburn, Susan Heywood, Marilyn Monroe and Italian beauty Sophia Loren - before settling on Elizabeth Taylor.

Contacting her on the set of the Mankiewicz film production of Tennesee Williams’ Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), Wanger related the offer to her then-husband, singer Eddie Fisher, who had answered the phone; perhaps with a touch of sarcasm, Taylor is quoted as having replied: “Sure, tell him I’ll do it for a million dollars.” With that throw-away quip and Wanger’s acceptance, Taylor became the first Hollywood star to receive $1 million for a single picture and, in doing so, suddenly acquired personal entitlements unheard of at the time. Drafted into her contract were two specific demands: the filming of Cleopatra was to be conducted abroad, and that the picture must be filmed in Todd-AO, the widescreen format invented by her late husband and technical innovator, Michael Todd, who was killed in a plane crash in 1958.

Cleopatra’s litany of production problems surfaced as the production’s shoot began at Pinewood Studios in England; catastrophically, the film’s first casualty was the star herself, Elizabeth Taylor. No stranger to illness, Taylor was so severely afflicted throughout the earliest part of the shoot that it became necessary for production staff to literally carry the fatigued actress out onto the set. Complications with her health reached crisis point when, while recuperating in her hotel room after an arduous day’s filming, Taylor lapsed into a comatose state; in a frantic effort to save her, an emergency tracheotomy was performed. Although the picture’s first director, Rouben Mamoulian (Blood and Sand) attempted to film around the absence of his star while she recovered, it was an exercise in futility. Without Taylor’s presence, the production on Cleopatra closed and Mamoulian soon resigned after six months of principle photography which netted just 10 minutes of usable footage; in an ominous premonition of the film’s escalating finances, the picture had cost $7 million for 16 weeks of production time.

Before it had even begun, Cleopatra’s production was in disarray, yet 20th Century Fox had faith in the film’s potential to be a blockbuster attraction and continued to inject money into the project - despite the desertion of the picture’s male leads, Peter Finch (Julius Caesar) and Stephen Boyd (Marc Antony) who were under obligation to fulfill prior commitments. The treacherous and unpredictable nature of England’s weather created havoc with the production’s centerpiece set, the Alexandria Palace, which experienced daily deterioration and needed constant repair - further escalating the project’s costs. The erratic climate was also cited as being a major contribution to Taylor’s health problems. Consequently, there was no alternative but to relocate the production to Rome; the lavish Alexandria sets and Mamoulian’s single can of footage were deemed unusable and, therefore, discarded.

Despite the inclusion of Rex Harrison and Richard Burton to respectively play the roles of Caesar and Marc Antony, Cleopatra continued to be plagued with insurmountable problems - ranging in everything from production strikes by female extras protesting against the amorous advances from their male Italian co-workers, to the more serious matter regarding the theft of expensive, often irreplaceable, props and equipment by employees at Rome’s Cinecitta studios. Not only were these instances enforcing delays on the film’s production schedule, but they also conspired to escalate its cost. Soon, it became evident that Cleopatra’s production was hemorrhaging and that, without stringent limitations imposed on its lack of financial restraint, the film would spell the ruination of 20th Century Fox - a fact whose significance was not lost on the studio’s chief, Darryl F. Zanuck.

In an effort to bring a semblance of sanity and put an end to Cleopatra’s traumas, Zanuck stopped studio funding to the picture, giving Mankiewicz no option but to complete it with his rapidly dwindling finances. The simmering tensions between the two men reached its zenith when, during the film’s editing, Mankiewicz was forcibly removed from the project by Zanuck, who, in turn, had to reinstate the disgraced director once it was discovered that no one had the inclination to finish the picture. Concerned by the distinct shabbiness of the film’s principle battle scenes in relation to the rest of it, Zanuck reluctantly ordered that the amateurishly-staged pieces - directly effected by 20th Century Fox’s decision to withhold financial support - be reshot.

Before its premiere in New York, one last contentious battle was fought between Zanuck and Mankiewicz - this time over Mankiewicz’s intentions for the six-hour long Cleopatra to be marketed as a two part epic with the instalments to be released six months apart. Zanuck was adamant in his difference of opinion; he wished to guarantee the picture’s success by capitalising on the feverish public interest generated by the passionate Taylor-Burton affair and, in one of Hollywood’s most tragic stories, forced Mankiewicz to shed two hours of footage - most of which, it seems at present, continues to remain lost. Unfortunately, it is this decision to trim the film that seriously weakens it as, in doing so, it removes (as far as it can be ascertained) vast portions of Burton’s scenes, reducing him to nothing more than a cardboard caricature, while the true fate of Rufio Agrippa (Martin Landau) is not disclosed.

"In obtaining her objectives, Cleopatra has been known to employ torture, poison, and even her own sexual talents, which are said to be considerable. Her lovers, I am told, are listed more easily by number than by name. It is said that she chooses in the manner of a man, rather than wait to be chosen in a womanly fashion. "

Landing on the shores of Greece, the Roman dictator Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) defeats the legions of his greatest political rival and son-in-law, Pompey the Great, at the battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC. Having been made guardian upon the death of their father, Ptolemy Auletes, Pompey seeks to recover from his heavy losses with the assistance and cooperation of Egypt’s boy Pharaoh, Ptolemy XIII, and his sister, Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor), by fleeing to Alexandria (this, in an era when Egypt is an independent state under the protectorate of Rome). Caesar pursues his arch-nemesis and soon arrives in the prestigious city where, in a frigid reception with Ptolemy and his advisors, Caesar is informed of a rancorous civil war between the boy king and his sibling, which threatens to spill out into other territories and undermine the political stability of the Roman Empire.

In a misguided attempt at intimidation and to illustrate his supremacy over the city of Alexandria, Ptolemy presents Caesar with Pompey’s signet ring - and his son-in-law’s decapitated head. It is an ill-advised action that will hold terrible consequences for the impetuous, hot-tempered Pharaoh.

Accepted as a guest into the Pharaoh’s Palace, Caesar begins to organise its defenses in anticipation of attack. During preparations, he is approached by Cleopatra’s advisor, Apollodorus (Cesare Danova), who is dressed in the guise of a rug merchant and supposedly bearing a gift from her - but is, in actuality, concealing the Egyptian goddess herself among his wares. Determined to utilise any means necessary to guarantee the survival of her nation, Cleopatra makes an impassioned plea for Egypt and Rome to enter in a symbiotic pact; in return for Caesar’s assistance in her ascendance to the throne, Cleopatra agrees to supply her protectors with an unlimited harvest of wheat and grain. Aware of the mutual benefits inherent in the alliance, and of the sexual dynamism between them, Caesar and the future queen consummate its finer details behind the doors of the Roman leader’s chambers.

Becoming Caesar’s mistress, Cleopatra is soon crowned Queen of Egypt after Ptolemy’s removal from the throne.

With the birth of their son, Caesarion, Cleopatra envisions a global empire ruled between herself and Caesar, but before her ambitions can be realised, the self-appointed Roman imperator is assassinated by dissident senators, led by Marcus Brutus, who are fearful that his newly acquired political powers will bring ruination to their republican ideals. In a calculated move, Cleopatra focuses on Caesar’s loyal and, at first, seemingly incorruptible lieutenant, Marc Antony (Richard Burton). Seducing him with her femininity and the promise of unlimited power, the Queen of the Nile implants the seed of ambition in Antony’s mind, prompting him and his legions to proclaim Caesarion as the rightful heir to the Roman Empire - a decision that does not rest well with Caesar’s grand-nephew, Octavian (Roddy McDowall).

Incensed at the couple’s audacity, Octavian instigates a public outcry against Antony and his “Egyptian whore”, and, in a stunning display of deft political manoeuvring, unifies both Rome’s people and the Senate into an unanimous call for war against Cleopatra. This decision, symbolised with the fatal spearing of the Egyptian ambassador with the Roman staff of war, cumulates in the naval battle at Actium off the coast of Greece, an engagement whose outcome will shatter Antony’s convictions of himself as both a man and a soldier, and strip him of the last vestiges of his dignity. Reviled and ridiculed, Antony awaits with Cleopatra as the combined might of Octavian’s armies seek to hasten the demise of their brief, but turbulent, reign.

  Video
Contract

Presented in its original screen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and anamorphic, Cleopatra’s transfer is somewhat disappointing - especially when taking into account the film’s status as either a dubious camp icon or as a legitimate Hollywood classic. When compared to Columbia Tri-Star’s excellent restorative work on David Lean’s Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) or Lawrence of Arabia (1962), this effort from 20th Century Fox falls flat; this not to implicate that the transfer is disastrous by any means - without a doubt, this is best the picture has ever looked - but it is marred by copious amounts of film-to-video artefacts and, perhaps worst of all, frequent shimmering.

Black levels are high and solid; understandably for a film which is 38 years old, shadow detail is poor. Sharpness is variable and something of a hit-and-miss affair - there are glimpses of exceptional moments where Antony is engaged in close-quarter fighting during the battle of Actium - but while there is a good degree of delineation, it is often lacking in true definition; an excellent example of the latter can be found in the sequences involving Caesar’s entrance into Alexandria, and the machinations of the Roman Imperial Senate. Also, too, edge enhancement is noticeable on more than a few occasions, with perhaps the most memorable instance appearing at 30:18 as a masseuse is attending to Cleopatra. However, the film’s magnificent colour palette is immaculately rendered; displaying jaw-dropping saturation with no discernible hint of bleeding, it is beauty personified.

There are no evident MPEG artefacts but, as mentioned before, film-to-video artefacts are rampant throughout the presentation, manifesting as aliasing, moiré, and shimmering which sometimes succeed in deferring the eye from the on-screen proceeding and directing it to these anomalies. Aliasing is quite prominent, affecting the decorative insignias and trimmings of Roman and Egyptian soldiers’ battle armour, steps, stairwells, marble tables and the base of walls adorned with ceremonial hieroglyphics; as nearly every frame of the film features ornate Corinthian architecture, intricate wall inscriptions and lavish costumes, it poses a serious threat, at times, to the viewing experience. Shimmering is perhaps the greatest flaw associated with the transfer, afflicting columns, curtains, and engraved walls - but one of the most distracting moments is situated at 1:13:19 concerning Cleopatra’s head-dress; it succeeds in producing a momentary optical effect, making it seem that her gold beads have disappeared.

Minor film grain is clearly visible in a few instances, such as in Chapter 6 where Caesar’s minions discuss Cleopatra’s hidden talents and the intense battle between the Roman and Egyptian naval fleets at Actium, but it warrants little interest and can be ignored. Film artefacts are noticeable throughout the presentation and consist mostly of small black and white flecks, minute nicks and scratches; unlike the severe moment of print damage at 1:16:40 which results in a momentary fluctuation in contrast and brightness, they are quite insignificant and acceptable given the vintage of the film.

  Audio
Contract

Cleopatra features two alternate tracks: the English Dolby Digital 5.1, and the English Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary.

Despite its pageantry, Cleopatra’s narrative is driven almost exclusively by dialogue; those expecting a fully immersive home theatre experience laden with thunderous rear surround support had best look elsewhere. Dialogue is clear and audible at all times, as is, too, sound, and tends to gravitate toward the front soundstage, with minimal accompaniment from the rear. Indeed, only the more intense aspects of composer Alex North’s sensuous, insinuating Oscar nominated music score, and the film’s centerpiece moments - essentially, Cleopatra’s awe-inspiring procession into Rome and the pivotal battle of Actium - are featured in the surrounds. It would be fair to say that, regardless of the picture’s extravagant nature, the 5.1 mix is more suited to a more minimalist effort.

The subwoofer remains mostly inactive, used principally to provide reinforcement to the lower octaves of North’s composition, and providing subtle reinforcement to some the film’s paramount scenes - again, most notably, the naval engagement at Actium.

  Extras
Contract

Spread out over three feature-packed discs, 20th Century Fox have left no stone unturned, ensuring that this release of Cleopatra is worthy of the moniker “Special Edition.” For anyone with even a vague interest in this film, the additional material is an absolute boon, but for those who possess an ardent love affair with Cleopatra - as this reviewer does - then this collection is guaranteed to lift you off into Hollywood heaven, or at least into the stratosphere. All in all, this represents one of the most comprehensive packages available on DVD for a film of its kind and is on parallel, perhaps even surpassing, the magnificent features found on Fox’s Special Edition of The Sound of Music.

Discs 1 & 2

Accessed via the Language Selection option on Cleopatra’s main menu, the audio commentary features film historian Jack Brodsky, actor Martin Landau, and the sons of the late Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Chris and Tom Mankiewicz. Running for the entirety of the film’s 240 minute length, their scene-specific comments are not only immensely fascinating, but are also a revelation into just how vast and problematic Cleopatra’s production was, giving insights into the reshooting of the film’s opening shot of Caesar’s victory at Pharsalus, the lamentation behind the culling of the picture’s original six-hour length into its current four-hour state, and the search to reintegrate the lost footage into what Joseph L. Mankiewicz hoped would be the definitive version of his notorious masterwork, before his unfortunate death in 1993.

Disc 3

If the exhaustive commentary was not enough, the third disc contains approximately two and a half hours of additional material, consisting of a documentary, one featurette, two Movietone News items, six theatrical trailers and five still galleries. With the exception of the photo galleries, all of these extras are featured in Dolby Digital 2.0 and, unless otherwise specified, a non-anamorphic 1.33:1 screen format.

2000 Documentary: Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood. (1:59:08)

Produced by US cable channel American Movie Classics and narrated by actor Robert Culp, this feature chronicles the picture’s traumatic production history. Detailing the film from its conception, through the turmoil of the numerous changes to the film’s casting, script, and shooting locations, to its anti-climatic premiere in New York, Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood is an invaluable asset into gaining a new perspective - indeed, appreciation - of this monumental picture. Of particular interest is the inclusion of some truly remarkable footage of the film’s original opening sequence, Joan Collins’ screen test, and an obscure 1963 Revlon advertisement promoting that company’s new line of Cleopatra-inspired cosmetics.

1963 Featurette: The Fourth Star of Cleopatra. (9:08)

Its title referring to the mammoth production itself and directed by Louis Tetunic, this short feature was part of the saturation campaign used by 20th Century Fox to generate interest in Cleopatra’s imminent release. Although narrated by an annoying and somewhat juvenile Phil Tonken, this addition - much like the 2000 documentary - is a valuable one as it features archival footage of the Alexandria harbor, the launching of the full-scale replica of Cleopatra’s gold-leafed barge, a glimpse into the demanding task of supplying thousands of cast extras with costumes and armour, and the elaborate preparations made for the film’s highlight - the Egyptian queen’s procession into Rome.

Movietone News Items: Nothing more than unashamed Hollywood marketing, there are, as mentioned earlier, two brief reels of footage featuring the cavalcade of celebrities and international dignitaries as they attend Cleopatra’s world premiere at the Rivoli Theatre in New York on 12 June 1963, and the latter Los Angeles and Washington premieres. Among the list of the entertainment industry’s elite to be seen include Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowall, Darryl F. Zanuck, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Joan Fontaine, Paul Anka, and Lucille Ball. The most notable absence is, of course, the film’s star herself, Elizabeth Taylor, who expressed her vehement reluctance to view the “modified” four-hour version, citing that the cuts made to it were unnecessary. Both Movietone reels run for 3:55 and 2:24 respectively.

Theatrical Trailers: In total, there are six trailers divided into two distinct collections; the first category contains three theatrical trailers, presented in a variety of screen ratio formats. The second is comprised of advance trailers which are, in essence, teasers clips used to promote the film and heralding its impending arrival. It should be noted that the latter trailers feature simply scrolling sensationalist blurbs presented against a backdrop of Cleopatra’s original poster art.

Trailer A: Presented in a screen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and anamorphic, this theatrical trailer runs for 4 minutes and 39 seconds.

Trailer B: Featured in the anamorphic screen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this trailer is amazingly brief, running for just 44 seconds.

Trailer C: Presented in a screen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and anamorphic, this trailer is simply a reiteration of Trailer A; like its cousin, it runs for 4 minutes and 39 seconds.

Advance Trailers: As intimated before, these were designed specifically to capitalise on interest in the film, inciting patron anticipation by suggesting that they complete an order blank in the theatre’s lobby to secure “choice seats for the most important event in entertainment history.” Each trailer contains text of a different language: English, French and Portuguese. It is interesting to mention that although their textual content and running times are identical (each trailer has a length of 57 seconds), both the English and Portuguese promotions are presented in a anamorphic screen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, while the French version is featured in the 2.35:1 theatrical screen format.

Still Gallery: The cumulation of the extensive extras, this feature is a collection of images divided into five distinct galleries, with each one focusing on a particular aspect of Cleopatra’s production and subsequent theatrical release. Costume Concept and Research consists of 84 stills of concept art, drawings from historical texts, and costume test photographs, while Excerpts from Original Exhibitors’ Campaign Book and Manual contains 83 stills of production photos, posters, newspaper items and advertisements for movie tie-ins, such as the original soundtrack album, novelisations, and cosmetics. Excerpts from the Original Commemorative Theatre Program features 61 stills from the souvenir booklet, ranging from historical paintings and engraving to production photos. British Lobby Cards contains 8 images depicting scenes and sets from Cleopatra, and, completing the galleries, Billboard Art, Miscellaneous Keyart, and Japanese Poster consists of 4 stills.

  Overall  
Contract

Cleopatra’s reputation as a commercial disaster is thoroughly unjustified when it is realised that the film earned a profit of approximately $25 million dollars on its initial theatrical run - although, admittedly, it was another five years after its New York premiere before the picture finally broke even. Nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture, Cleopatra triumphed in four major categories at the 1964 Academy Awards: Best Art Direction (John DeLuir), Best Cinematography (Leon Shamroy), Best Costume Design (Irene Sharaff, Vittorio Nino Novaresse, Renie), and Best Visual Effects (Emil Kosa, Jr.). But the film’s glory was tarnished with the knowledge that a clerical error, stipulating Roddy McDowall was a running candidate in the Best Actor category, deprived the talented performer of a much-deserved Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Behind Butterfield 8 and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra is perhaps Elizabeth Taylor’s most identifiable role, even though her apparent disdain - indeed, derision - for it has entered into the annuals of Hollywood mythology. Her reinterpretation of the Egyptian goddess has many detractors who cite her performance, supported by a dubious script that contains a litany of unintentional howlers, as shallow and excruciatingly annoying; needless to say, I must disagree. While it is true she has given better performances in her illustrious career, Taylor still manages to rise above any of the film’s mediocrity, delivering an acting showcase that is often criminally overlooked. There is no need to delve into how radiant Taylor appears in this film; to say she is merely beautiful is an understatement.

Rex Harrison exudes a commanding screen presence as Julius Caesar, as does Richard Burton who - in a part severely curtailed through Darryl F. Zanuck’s stringent editorial recommendations - provides a captivating depiction of the would-be conqueror Marc Antony. Burton’s intensity is palpable during the latter half of the film, when Antony seeks to retain his dignity through means of his own death; infusing the utmost passion with his trademark Shakespearean theatrics, Burton’s poise, dialect, and expression, are spine-chillingly magnificent in these scenes.

With its length of 240 minutes, Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra is an enjoyable but grueling motion picture experience which cannot be viewed in a single session; to fully appreciate the film, it is recommended that it be watched over two consecutive nights. Even so, it requires a sizable amount of stamina to sit through it. It has been said that Hollywood epics are a genre unto themselves, and Cleopatra is testament to this belief for, other than the exceptions of the Biblical masterpieces which preceded it, there can be no comparisons made to this film. Make no mistake: Cleopatra is a must-see for anyone who has a penchant for colossal pictures, or a wish to take a nostalgic trip back to an era where Hollywood was at the pinnacle of movie entertainment - an age which has, sadly, passed on.


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      And I quote...
    "Maligned and misunderstood, Cleopatra can be perceived as either a forgotten classic or as a grand folly... "
    - Shaun Bennett
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