Richard Burton, Rex Harrison and Elizabeth Taylor star in one of the greatest screen spectacles ever made - the story of the Queen of the Nile and her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. The film is distinguis... more »hed by superb performances from Burton and Harrison (nominated for an Oscar), but at its center is Elizabeth Taylor in one of the most glamorous roles of her career. Astounding in scope and grandeur, the picture won Oscars for cinematography, sets and special effects. It's famous moments include moviedom's most flamboyant entrance - Cleopatra's dazzling arrival in Rome. Bolstered by a talented supporting cast and utterly stunning backdrops, here is a truly epic portrayal of the woman who conquered two of Rome's greatest soldiers, affected the course of history, and became synonymous with beguiling beauty - Cleopatra.« less
Michael C. Smith | San Francisco, CA United States | 04/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"That a film as good as CLEOPATRA is was created at all under the madness and panic of it's legendary production is indeed an amazing feat. That CLEOPATRA has been given such loving care in it's restoration in this DVD of the "Road show" print and the attendant bonus materials is a wondrous gift to those who love this film.
The documentary, "Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood" is in on it's own an engrossing and informative two hour movie. For anyone who knows little of the history of CLEOPATRA, or who was not around at the time, this documentary will give them the feeling of what those last days of old Hollywood were like. And therein one can find the reasons why this intimate epic is indeed the wonder that it is. Much thanks must be given to the Mankiewicz family and the producers of the documentary.
The print and the sound of CLEOPATRA seems now to surpass what I recall it to be in its first presentation nearly forty years ago. The depth of the colors and the richness of the shadows are indeed splendid. In it's present form it is hard to believe this film is as old as it is. The commentary track is like finding the lost treasures of the long dead monarch. For there are wonderful recollections by Martin Landau, Tom and Chris Mankiewicz, and even Jack Brodsky gets to read sections from his book "The Cleopatra Papers". But I must give special mention to Landau's part. With his keen eye for the art direction of John DeCur one sees things in the background and along the edges of the scene that one never noticed before. Such lovingly detailed sets and interiors will never be seen again. The costs today are just too prohibitive. Also his insights into what was cut from the film, particularly his and Richard Burton's contributions in the second act give one the idea of what Mankiewicz was intending. Poor Richard suffered the unkindest cut of all. The presentation of the DVD menus are so clever and exotic and are to be commended in their art direction. At last we now know what is behind the massive 20th Century Fox logo!
The film itself remains what it has always been, a good film that might have been great if only Zanuck had but trusted Joe Mankiewicz' original vision. In the documentary it is stated that Fox is looking for the missing film, one can only hope that they succeed.
The performances range from excellent to good. Particular praise must go to Rex Harrison, Richard Burton, Martin Landau, Robert Stephens, Andrew Keir, and Roddy McDowall. Lastly in this department there remains Elizabeth Taylor's performance as Cleopatra. At the films release she got the brickbats and for reasons that had nothing to do with her performance. It is always hard to separate the history of the lady from her film roles. But here in this film is where she became the ELIZABETH TAYLOR she has remained in the mind of the world to this day. In this fact alone she is perfect in the role. She is at once regal and commanding, strong and tender, soft and hard. The contradictions that have always been at the heart of Cleopatra herself, the public enigma wrapped within a mystery. In her performance as written by Mankiewicz she is probably not too far off from the historical Cleopatra.
Ever since Judith Crist gave CLEOPATRA the needle in 1963 and in the act made her name, the public, for the most part, has viewed this film a failure. But today, stripped of the scandal, hype and hysteria of its release in June of '63 it is now possible to view CLEOPARTA as the wonderful film that it is. Historically this is an important DVD and I recommend it highly. CLEOPATRA remains as seductive, beautiful, and intelligent as it was in Walter Wanger's original conception."
The Nile's Queen
Maximiliano F Yofre | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 11/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw "Cleopatra" (1963) at the theater it was a big let down. I think the public was awaiting something completely "out of the mold" after being bombed by an aggressive publicity campaign. It's my feeling that this was the cause of "Cleopatra" being initially a big flop. More than thirty years after its release I saw this movie again and was amazed: such a great epoch reconstruction, such historical accurateness, such great performances from the three main characters!
The story is well known. A young and beautiful Egyptian princess seduces and gets protection and support from the mighty Roman general Julius Caesar. A love affair emerges and a boy is born. Cleopatra seeks Caesar to be King of Rome and his son to be his heir. Unfortunately March Ides arrive and Caesar is murdered by his entourage. Cleopatra flies to Egypt; there she awaits the development of political events. Finally Marc Antony arrives and starts a new love affair. There is a final confrontation among the Roman rivals and fate is again blind to Cleopatra's hopes.
Decoration and Costume both won, deservedly, Oscar Award. A full scale reproduction of Alexandria's port and marketplace is shown. The Egyptian palaces' reconstruction is amazing. The same may be said of Roman buildings and halls. Cleopatra's costumes are gorgeous, she wore 65 different! The wardrobe of all the cast is impeccable! Special mentions must be addressed to: Rex Harrison's performance as Julius Caesar, sober and realistic, no overacting or histrionics; Elisabeth Taylor at the apex of her career is just adorable; Richard Burton gives the audience a passionate and ruthless personification of Marc Antony.
A film to be admired and treasured! Reviewed by Max Yofre."
Hey 20th Century FOX: RESTORE CLEOPATRA!
Dave | NJ | 07/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think Cleopatra is the best movie ever made, it is also the most expensive movie ever made costing twice more than Titanic in today's money, but it just didn't make it to the screen. Intended to be two movies, Caesar and Cleopatra & Antony and Cleopatra, three hours each. But partly because of the attention of the famous Taylor-Burton affair, Darryl F. Zanuck shamelessly ruined Cleopatra from its 6-hour two movies into ONE 3 hour 14 minute movie, which is the TV version, which is Horrible! But luckily, the 4-hour version, this DVD version, survived the brutal cutting of the film. This movie is the most beautiful movie I have ever seen. The sets, clothes, props, and music... they are just FLAWLESS! As many people know, Rex Harrison as Caesar and Richard Burton as Antony both got nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars, but because the movie was cut to one, they were nominated against each other in the same movie, and more importantly, their best scenes were cut because of the length, so none of them won (but they deserve to), and Roddy McDowell got nominated in the wrong section and his votes were canceled. Martin Landau was going to be nominated as Best Supporting Actor, but after the film was ruined, the Academy Awards dropped him. Elizabeth Taylor's best scenes were cut off that she was so angry she puked at the Premiere. The Music of the film is the BEST. Till this Day, I don't know why the Oscars didn't give Cleopatra the award. Of course, Oscars didn't give Gone with the Wind, Gladiator, and lots of other film's beautiful scores the Oscar, it's weird.How do I know about all about Cleopatra? I have ALL the books, interviews, and even the full movie shooting script of this movie, I am the biggest fan! If you have seen the movie, you'll realize that Cleopatra was usually unhappy and tense. But there is a happy side of her, for example, there was a scene where Cleopatra, Antony and her son with Caesar were in the garden, Cleopatra watching them play swords. Then Caesarian, the son, stubbed Antony with his wooden sword and Antony cried out in "pain", and Caesarian suddenly went crying, saying "don't die, don't die!" Antony suddenly comes back to life and tickles Caesarian, then drags Cleopatra into them and they were all laughing and rolling on the floor... it was so happy, and that's one of the many sides of Cleopatra that's been cut off. In the four-hour version, we first see Cleopatra dumped out of a carpet. That was NEVER intended to be the first scene we see Cleopatra. From the script I learned that there was a whole story of Cleopatra outside Alexandria, and she and the others planned to meet Caesar and how to sneak her in. Just after they got to the Palace, some soldiers almost caught them and the maid had to lure the guards away... it was thrilling to read the pages of the script! There are sooo much to saying about what Cleopatra should have been, but sadly, no one expect FOX has the missing footage, and they are the best scenes of the movie (some scenes were so humorous that I laughed out loud!).In the late 70's, 20th Century FOX called a recording session to record the lines of the movie so they can restore it, since the sound elements were missing. But it was called off at the last minute. But the three-and-half hours of missing film footage was NEVER lost! With today's technology, they can totally restore the film back, including the sound. They also have the missing part of the unused scores, but why doesn't FOX, after making a two hour documentary about the film, restore it? No one knows! Movies like "A Star is Born", "Lawrence of Arabia", "Sparticus", and many other classic movies has been successfully restored and loved by many. Why not Cleopatra? I am writing just to let you know the truth about the movie, and hopefully, if more people know maybe FOX will restore the film to the intended way. In a Late interview with four-time Oscar winner Joseph L Mankiewicz, the director and screenwriter of the movie, when the subject Cleopatra went up, he literately cried (on TV!). He said he wanted the film to be perfect that he bit his nails until they were bleeding that he had to wear gloves when he was writing the script... He called Cleopatra his "butchered masterpiece". But however, it's still one of the best movies out there! Totally worth buying!!FOX: PLEASE RESTORE CLEOPATRA BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE, BEFORE THE FILM ROTS OR A STUDIO FIRE AND BURNS THEM TO DUST, LIKE FOX'S 1917 VERSION OF CLEOPATRA!"
Cleopatra: An Intimate Spectacle
Steve Charitan | 04/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite the legendary excesses and scandals that went on during the making of this unjustly maligned movie, it has three of the most critical foundation stones any work of this scope needs to succeed: 1). A unified vision or point of view, extending from the development of plot and characters to the physical look of the production itself.2). A literate and compelling script that could play irrespective of the opulence of its surroundings.3). Four leading actors who instinctively understand how to work their material, making the seams between performer and character invisbile to the spectator. #s 1 & 2 were supplied by director / screenwriter Joseph L. Mankiewicz, #3 by Taylor, Burton, Harrison, and McDowell.This is a film that easily bears repeated viewings, and, again, thanks to Mankiewicz and his actors, functions simultaneously on a variety of levels. For example, there are the love stories:Caesar & Cleopatra / Antony & Cleopatra. The tender scenes are written and played almost poetically, but there are also political manouverings going on as each uses the other to attain or augment their power. This is made even more fascinating in that these are obviously intelligent, witty, charming, beautiful, ruthless, and influential people whose calculations shape nations and Empires.Given all of the above, the movie also looks like the enormous sum it cost, has a brilliant score by Alex North, an accomplished supporting cast (in particular, Martin Landau, Pamela Brown, Hume Cronan, Cesare Danova), and spectacular "set pieces" that though fully integrated into the plot, almost play as "movies within the movie" - Cleopatra's Entry into Rome, Cleopatra's Barge & Banquet, the Battle of Actium.In sum, Mankiewicz and cast succeed in bringing off the big "world stage" themes critical to this genre of historical film. Their greatest achievement however lies in making an audience understand that these ancient archetypes were human beings trying to bear the weight of both history and their emotions."
Enthralling Epic, still magnificent.
Review Lover | At a place... | 01/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can I say about Cleopatra that has not already been said? It's an epic, powerful, enthralling and magnificent beast of a film, combining breathtaking and expansive visuals with powerful lead performances, and sublime direction by the genius Joseph L. Mankiewicz (responsible for the brilliant 'All About Eve'). 'Cleopatra' is the co-ruler of Egypt, exiled by her upstart, puppet-king brother Ptolemy. Enter Julius Caesar, fresh from a civil war with Pompeii, who, ostensibly for the benefit of the Roman empire, ousts Ptolemy and his evil advisors and invests Cleopatra as the sole ruler of Egypt. Hungry for more, the good lady Queen married Caesar and bears him a son in the hopes of extending the Roman empire with Alexandria as its seat of power, but the democratic Roman senate does not agree. Murdering Caesar and forcing Cleopatra and his heir into exile, she returns to Egypt, while Octavian, a heretofore venal and weak man, takes Caesar's place. Enter Marc Anthony, who, through a series of popular and victorious conquests, rules one-third of the Roman empire. He falls madly in love with Cleopatra, and she with him. Siezing lands and power from her new husband, the couple attempts to overthrow Octavian in a historic battle-at-sea. What follows is real and movie history.The most remarkable thing about 'Cleopatra' is the fact that it still carries the taboo of failure. This is very much due to a perpetuated myth of financial failure (see the excellent documentary on the bonus disc for clarification of this - lousy money and location management are the culprits) and the fact that this movie is where the Taylor & Burton affair all began. Unpopular as it was in the 1960's, it kept a certain amount of people from giving the picture the praise it deserves. However, mud sticks, and this is another reason for the perceived critical failure of 'Cleopatra'.Both reasons, happily, are immediately invalidated when one sits down to watch. In her role as one of the most famus women of all time, Elizabeth Taylor gives a bravura performance, as epic in its attitude as the film itself. She displays a rare feeling for the part, being by turns seductive and regal, human and ethereal. We don't question her authority or her intelligence for a moment.
As Caesar, Rex Harrisson is wonderful. Cleopatra's first powerful lover becomes, in Harrisson's capable hands, a real man, a human bearing the mythical title of Caesar. He is tender and human, wholly believable as a Titan made vulnerable by love.
Richard Burton is similarly magnificent, eclipsing Harrisson's performance with the fire and rash emotion befitting a man in his position. His onscreen chemistry with Taylor is palpable and we are wholly accepting of the fact that she, too, loves him. He is a General of War, and his fierce and passionate battle sequences coupled with his tender, almost innocent love scenes mark him as one of the best actors of his time.With such excellent performances from the leads, the supporting cast could be forgiven for having been overlooked, but this is happily not the case. Roddy MacDowall is astonishing as the vile and willful Octavian, narrowly and unfairly missing a Best Supporting Actor nomination (again, see the documentary) for his excellent portrayal of an unpopular emperor in uneasy times. Hume Cronyn as Sosigenes is excellent, too.I can't do any justice to the visual impact of 'Cleopatra' by going into it in-depth, so instead I will just say this. Never before, nor never since, has such a realistic and glorious impression been made by a film. Forget Titanic, and Ben Hur, and all the others - Cleopatra takes the word 'Epic' and utterly redefines it with magnificent temples, sweeping deserts and tempestuous ocean scenes. Taylor as Cleopatra shines like a regal bauble, matched only by her husbands, Caesar and Anthony, in terms of all-encompassing screen presence.Joseph L. Mankiewicz is, in my opinion, one of Hollywood's most enduring talents. Not content to be responsible for the genius scripting of 'All About Eve', he has created in 'Cleopatra' that which every director surely strives to do: a wholly believable and engrossing setting against which an epic drama is played out. The DVD quality is superb, with clear and crisp audio and visual elements. The extras are similarly amazing, and the documentary I keep referring to is two hours of fair, unbiased commentary and fascinating insight into one of Hollywood's greatest ever pictures.I can't recommend 'Cleopatra' highly enough. For scope, beauty, and drama, it is the unquestionable best. The length of the movie is immaterial, further cuts would only diminish its effect. One for everyone's collection."