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When director and editor Joseph L. Mankiewicz first screened the rough cut for Fox executives back in 1963, the film ran approximately 5 and a half hours. Mankiewicz conceived the film being released as two separate features, the first detailing Cleopatra's relationship with Julius Caesar and the second exploring her liaison with Marc Antony. Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck adamantly refused Mankiewicz' plan: Fox had so much money invested in the film that the studio was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Zanuck wanted to rush the film into theatres quickly and recoup as much money as possible while the public was still fascinated by the real-life romantic scandal taking place between Elizabeth Taylor (Cleopatra) and Richard Burton (Antony). He ordered Mankiewicz to edit the film down to a cut that ran a little over four hours (248 minutes). This is the version that was shown to reviewers and early "roadshow" audiences.
However, when it came time to send the film into general release, theatre owners complained that the movie was so long, it could only be shown once per evening. Zanuck agreed and had the film cut again, down to about 222 minutes, and then a second time to a little over three hours in length (192 minutes) so that it could be shown twice per evening and thus, theoretically, bring in twice as much money, and quickly. This 192 minute theatrical version thus became the most complete edition of the film that most original audiences ever saw.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A Classic!! Fabulous!! Cleo entering Rome rivals any movie for sheer pagentry.Published 9 hours ago by Virginia Defibaugh
Missed it in my youth. Should have been split into two 3 hour movies as discussed in Wikipedia which suggested there was enough material to do so. Great movie.Published 2 days ago by kiricenkov
More information was given than you see in the tv version .Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
Cleopatra is a much better movie than given credit for despite this is the movie than nearly bankrupt 20th Century Fox and it too 30 years to recover the lost cost despite it had a... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Lamar Jackson
Asked for a refund and got a lucrative one back! Thank you.Published 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
1963 version of Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor is one of my favorite films, both as an Elizabeth Taylor fan, and as a history buff, or "arm chair historian", that I... Read morePublished 2 months ago by moviebuff
Excellent customer service.,
With that said, this is a new entry on my worse movies ever made. I was prepared for it's length but not for the boredom. Read more
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Despite all the criticisms of this motion picture, including how it almost bankrupt Fox Studios, I find it to be one of my favorites. It is amazing to me that 2 hours worth of footage (edited from the movie or not) was misplaced or ruined due to negligence. Quite a different time from today... Read More
Aug 27, 2008 by William R. Beaver | See all 4 posts
The Video on Demand says 4hrs 9min, but the DVD is only a little over 3hrs - are they different versions?
Nov 7, 2010 by Doctor Anne | See all 4 posts