"You know, it's possible, Octavian, that when you die... you will die without ever having been alive."
— Mark Antony
The film that nearlykilled20th Century Fox, Cleopatra was released in 1963 and starred Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. It chronicles the tale of Cleopatra, Pharaoh of Egypt, and her long reign over her country. In the beginning, she romances Julius Caesar, and tries to gain her place in the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, the Ides of March happen, and Cleopatra's dreams hit a roadblock. So, she turns her attention to Mark Antony, who eventually falls to the army of Octavian.If you are looking for information about the actual Cleopatra, click here.
This work features examples of:
The Alcoholic: In the second part of the movie, there is hardly a scene where Mark Antony is not drinking.
Epic Fail: Mark Antony's "brilliant" decision to branch into naval warfare at Actium.
Epic Movie: One of the biggest. It cost $44 million to make, which, adjusted for inflation, would be $310 million in today's dollars. This figure has only been topped (and even then, just barely) by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End — 44 years later. To put it into perspective: it remains the only movie to be the highest-grossing film of its year and still lose money. It would have had to become the third most successful film of all time just to break even.
Forgiveness Requires Death: Very literal. The girl who offered Cleopatra a poisoned drink begs her forgiveness. Cleopatra grants it, then makes her drink it. Also a Moment of Awesome.
Cleopatra was very probably genuinely offering her forgiveness, when you think about it. I'm sure the quick, relatively painless death from the poison was a gentler way to go than the one the law would reserve for someone who tried to assassinate the Queen.
Memento MacGuffin: Cleopatra had a necklace made with only coins of Caesar, which she says she always wears. Mark Antony tears it off.
Monumental Damage: Cleopatra is furious when Caesar's troops accidentally burn down the famous Alexandrian Library.
This includes the baffling part where Sosigenes refers to various books being burned, such as the manuscripts of Aristotle, and the... Testament of the Hebrew god, which he refers to as the Book of Books? When did a Greek philosopher in Egypt convert to Judaism?
Shown Their Work: The film, although no stranger to Hollywood History, is remarkably respectful of Classic sources. Many colourful and dramatic episodes (Cleopatra rolled in a carpet, Caesar killed near Pompey's monument, Mark Antony covering Brutus' body with a cloak) are directly lifted from Suetonius, Plutarch, and other ancient writers. Many historical events, place-names and figures are mentioned in the movie, raising its educational value.