The 1917 Theda Bara portrayal of Cleopatra came across as threating and ominous as, at the time of filming, women were getting stronger willed and fighting for equal rights with men. Hollywood showed her image as alluring sexual and self-assured with good looks and air of authority and the power to control men as and when she deemed necessary. The depicted her as the reincarnation of Cleopatra and not just an image of an historical figure. Cleopatra relationship with Julius Caesar and that of Marc Anthony was one of control and alliance to obtain the necessary power needed to protect her beloved Egypt and not one of love for the person.
The film showed how women were changing in modern times compared with their less powerful and more submissive historical counterparts in days gone.
The 1934 Cecil B Demille’s adaptation of Cleopatra showed her as a sophisticated and flirtatious figure, who has by her attire been portrayed to fit in with the art deco era.
This film seems to emphasis the struggle between the sexes as depicted within the image showing the queen standing in the middle of two male characters, one a roman, the other an Egyptian within a background of oriental sophisticate splendour. Claudette Colbert was not depicted as a reincarnation of Cleopatra as she was better known for staring in romantic comedies. This adaptation was not so much the queens relationship with the roman empire, but revolved more around her love and infatuations with her two great loves Julius Caesar and Marc Antony.
At the time sexual manipulation and excess indulgence were easily kept in the past and then laid to rest with the subsequent death of the queen.