Determined to hold on to the throne, Cleopatra seduces the Roman emperor Julius Caesar. When Caesar is murdered, she redirects her attentions to his general, Marc Antony, who vows to take power—but Caesar’s successor has other plans.
On Your Knees! On your knees! It's something that Cleopatra her self shouts at a stunned Mark Antony, but it could quite literally have been shouted by many in Hollywood at 20th Century Fox as their gargantuan epic threatened to sink them. The trials and tribulations surrounding the film are stuff of legend, all of which makes for a film itself, but I will not go over old ground, there's a couple of great documentaries available out there and they are required viewing. They also help to explain somewhat why Cleopatra is not the genre defining classic many hoped it would be. Truth is is that no film could have lived up to the expectation that surrounded Cleopatra, as it is, with flaws and all, it's still a enjoyably lavish spectacle, harking back to a time when grandiose meant something. In fact a time of film making we could do with in today's day and age of retreads, remakes and soppy sequels. Split in to two narratives, that of Caesar & Cleopatra and Antony & Cleopatra, film basically deals with how Rome sought to conquer Egypt as Cleopatra clung on grimly in power and affairs of the heart. A cast of quality thespians stand straight backed and deliver the plot machinations, set to the backdrop of magnificent ornate sets, period costuming, piercing photography and a pulse pounding musical score. Quite simply the grandeur and scope is stunning in its presentation. Not all the dialogue works, and there are passages of exchanges that come off as undernourished; while soap operatics take a hold in the second part of the film. Yet for the historical epic fan there is just too much that is great for this to be ignored or considered a stinker. From Rex Harrison - Elizabeth Taylor - Richard Burton & Roddy McDowall, to the opulence seeping from every pore, Cleopatra is a joyous eye opening experience. Yes! Flaws and all. 8/10