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Film about “Cleopatra” Essay

Cleopatra is depicted as a strikingly beautiful, loyal but manipulative temptress, oozing femininity as she seduces the two most powerful men in Egypt, Marc Antony and Julius Caesar. A question this raises is, was she an insecure Queen who felt that she needed a more powerful man to help secure her place on the throne of her beloved Egypt, rather than lose it to one of them? As shown in the 2005 TV production ‘Rome’ Cleopatra is seen wanting to get pregnant by Caesar to secure her position, but in the end she didn’t have any qualms if someone else fathered the child, she would pass it off as Caesar’s.

Cleopatra is shown on film as an almost caring being and an intelligent woman. In the 1934 production, Cleopatra tells Antony as she kisses his hand “I am no longer Queen, I am a woman.” This suggests that in that particular moment, she is allowing her emotions to rule, perhaps even going as far to say that as a Queen she is quite a stony and hard character, but as an ordinary woman, she is allowing herself to love. In the 1963 film, Cleopatra speaks of “One World, one nation, living in peace.” This again shows her caring nature that she wants the world to live in harmony. In real life, this could be a rather obvious reference to the UN and stopping war. Again, in the 1963 production, a rather sexist remark is made about Cleopatra “If she wasn’t a woman, one might think she’s an intellect.” This Roman depiction shows Cleopatra to be a clever and smart Queen, but as she is female, she is not given full credit.

In most TV and film productions of Cleopatra, she is seen as a beautiful ‘Goddess’ with lashings of make up and dressed in extravagant costumes and jewellery to show her wealth. This portrayal of her makes her look almost high maintenance and authoritative. However, the Roman coins, which reveal her portrait, decipher Cleopatra as less of a beauty but almost hag like. As these coins are the only piece of history that show what Cleopatra may have looked like, I think it is a case that this is one depiction that has been glamorised by TV and film. Throughout the years as various productions have been filmed, the actresses playing Cleopatra have changed in appearance e.g. their ethnicity, which may show a change in how society sees her. This shows how the world has changed by allowing more ethnic groups into the world of acting.

TV and film seem to develop the depictions of Cleopatra to fit in with the world in which we live at the time of which the production was made. It would appear that the Roman depictions of Cleopatra seem accurate in terms of her character, wealth and extravagant lifestyle but not her looks, as this is the only inconsistency against the historical artefacts we have. As time and society change, we may never know the true identity of Cleopatra.


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