Cleopatra (1963)


Joseph L. Mankiewicz directs Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison and Richard Burton in this inconceivably lavish and horizon scaled epic following the Egyptian queen’s power struggles and romances with the leaders of Rome. 

Five hours in the big screen and I dozed, dawdled, was distracted and (rarely but more than once) delighted. The sheer goddamn size of the thing is an undeniable achievement. Even if all that is expected of her is to be a curvy little clothes horse, (one interminable argument has three costume changes within it) Taylor is electric when given the right lines. It is at its best when being a series of grand spectacular entrances of which there are half a dozen, and at its worst when it enters a rut of endless scenes rehashing the same conversation over and over again, just in different sets. Burton in particular seems overwhelmed in a thanklessly whiny part that he all but gives up on in some monologues. A bloated mess, but often fantastic to gawk at when there is a little less conversation and a little more action.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.