A Sexist Portrayal of Cleopatra
Erica N. Herron | MD | 07/29/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is such a prime example of how history reduces the greatest female rulers to spoiled helpless children, nagging wives, or brazen whores. In this movie, she is portrayed as all of the above.
For those of you unaware, Cleopatra was a wise and regal ruler, a brilliant economist, an astute strategist, a clever risk-taker, a highly educated author, and the ultimate self-marketer. Nearly every book and movie skips over the eight languages she spoke, the social programs she enacted. They assume that her only achievement was to be born a great beauty and a base courtesan. In reality any sex appeal she had was not to be found in the face fate bestowed on her -- the rare images of her depict her as having a huge beaked nose, a sharp chin, and a thick neck. It was her personality, her wit, her brilliance in seduction, her skill with makeup, and her ability to create an aura around herself that made her such a lethal enchantress. Despite her gender, she used what few weapons society would allow her to save her country.
The Cleopatra in this movie was a stomping, petulant child, foolish and brash. Instead of a shrewd woman who used her brain to save her nation by driving a great conquerer to sensual submission, in this movie her brash folly is barely contained by Ceasar, who acts as her mentor.
We can say with a degree of legitimacy that Cleopatra was a parasite, that she was a sociopath, that she was a murderer.
But nobody who knows anything about Cleopatra would ever consent to portray her as an empty-headed bimbo unless they were blatantly, deliberately ignoring the facts in favor of a version that would be more palatable to a sex-obsessed patriarchal culture.
Even today, we just cannot abide a powerful woman (let alone an ugly one) and must belittle her achievements this way."