Cleopatra is undoubtedly one of the most iconic women in history; subsequently, many women have taken to the big screen to portray one of the most beautiful queens and her scandal-filled life.
From the 1899 French horror Robbing Cleopatra’s Tomb, to the horrifyingly inaccurate sexploitation film The Notorious Cleopatra – in which Cleopatra is stabbed to death in the bath by Mark Antony – portrayals range in ethnicity, motive and allure of the character.
Perhaps one of the most famous films about the Egyptian queen is the 1963 American/British/Swiss epic drama starring Elizabeth Taylor.
It was one of the most expensive movies ever made, costing $44 million in total; unfortunately this meant that its $26 million in earnings, despite being a substantial amount, resulted in a huge loss for the company.
It was relatively faithful to the known facts about Cleopatra’s life, and the blossoming on-set romance between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor adds genuine chemistry to their performances.
Taylor was included in the Guinness Book of World Records for this film as she wore sixty five different costumes, the most amount of changes in a film until that point.
Most films about Cleopatra tend to portray her as a sex icon, although a few deal with her life as a mother and a ruler. The 1999 film Cleopatra from Hallmark Entertainment (originally aired as a two-part TV show) starred Leonor Varela, Timothy Dalton and Billy Zane in an in-depth examination of her life based on The Memoirs of Cleopatra novel by Margaret George.
There have been dozens of odd adaptations of the character, including the French Asterix and Obelix visiting her in the past, an episode of Doctor Who in which River Song is Cleopatra, and there’s even a massively successful Bgo Cleopatra slot game that’ll evoke all the allure of ancient Egypt, and maybe give you a fortune fit for a Queen to boot. Compared to all that, a 1970s anime named Cleopatra: Queen of Sex doesn’t sound so strange now, does it?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next starlet to take on the role will be Angelina Jolie, who has expressed an interest in playing the queen previously. Despite losing three directors, Ang Lee has most recently expressed a desire to take control of the film which will be based on the book Cleopatra: A Life by Stacey Schiff.
It deals with Cleopatra as a leader and a mother, and may deal with her alleged marriage to both her brothers and their subsequent murders. Jolie has commented that she sees Cleopatra as a misunderstood figure, who deserves significantly more of an exploration.
Meanwhile, Cleopatra lives on in the public consciousness as a temptress with greater political power than any of our modern-day rulers.