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4.7 13
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz,

Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison


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This is an impressive release, spanning three discs, two dedicated to the movie (with commentary track) and the third including the extras. The two movie discs are presented in a double-disc keep case, while the third, tempting fate, is inserted into a pocket in the booklet (which is made of heavy card stock). Of the most interest are the supplemental materials, which


This is an impressive release, spanning three discs, two dedicated to the movie (with commentary track) and the third including the extras. The two movie discs are presented in a double-disc keep case, while the third, tempting fate, is inserted into a pocket in the booklet (which is made of heavy card stock). Of the most interest are the supplemental materials, which expand on the turbulent history of the production. The commentary track, featuring Martin Landau, Jack Brodsky, Chris Mankiewicz, and Tom Mankiewicz, delves from the beginning into the way that director Joseph L Mankiewicz's vision and intent for the film (which he had intended to be two films) was compromised by Darryl F. Zanuck and the precarious financial condition of 20th Century Fox. Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood, the documentary included on disc three, provides the note that the Fox back lot had already been sold to developers (for development into Century City) before development on Cleopatra had begun. Interesting stuff indeed. Martin Landau, incidentally, carries a good portion of the commentary track solo. The film is transferred from a restored road show print, maintaining an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (as opposed to the 2.20:1 aspect ratio sometimes used in prior releases). The transfer is anamorphic and looks excellent, with vivid and accurate colors throughout. There are no signs of compression artifacts, thanks in part to a generous bit budget provided by putting the movie on two RSDL discs. Blacks are solid and detailed, and shadows are excellent. Edge enhancement is almost completely absent, but there are some very minor instances of shimmering, usually involving Elizabeth Taylor's costumes or complex moire-work in scene design. The soundtrack has been redesigned and remixed for Dolby 5.1, sounding excellent, with Alex North's score spread nicely across the soundstage. Most of the dialogue is maintained in the center, though some is placed at varying degrees left or right of center, which works better in some scenes than others. Surround is used well, with some very well-done directional effects, both in the major set pieces (Cleopatra's arrival in Rome) and the more subtle moments (Cleopatra's ascension after Caesar ends the Egyptian civil war). The Dolby Surround 2.0 loses subtlety along with some of the separation -- the basic level is greater, but the actual dynamic range is reduced. The French 2.0 track sounds good as far as the music and effects mix goes, and the dubbing seems accurate enough, but the voice cast seems a bit off in places -- especially Cleopatra, who ends up sounding rather gruff. The movie discs have a total of 52 chapter stops, and include the overture and entre'acte music. The first pressing had a mastering error that left out the exit music; a revised second pressing was scheduled for a mid-2001 release. The discs have been mastered according to THX standards and include the THX Opti-Mode test and setup program. The third disc has a number of extras, including the previously mentioned documentary, Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood, which was produced for the American Movie Classics cable channel. This is an impressive piece of work, narrated by Robert Culp, featuring clips from Rouben Mamoulian's aborted attempt at shooting the film at Pinewood, along with clips from the portions excised from the final movie. This is one of those documentaries that quietly proves that Hollywood is a town where the lunatics run the asylum. Unfortunately, the documentary has not been mastered with chapter stops, and Fox has disabled random access, so the only way to find a specific point is to fast-forward through the piece. Contrasting with the documentary is "The Fourth Star of Cleopatra," a Movietone News featurette that spends nine minutes on the Cinecitta-based sets without saying anything at all. The piece is in fairly good condition, showing some grain and some color balance problems. Two black-and-white Movietone News pieces put the East and West Coast premieres on display for the curious and starstruck. Three trailer variants are provided, along with the advance trailer (promoting advance ticket purchases) in English, French, and Portuguese. All but the French advance trailer are presented in anamorphic transfers at various aspect ratios. The extras disc is rounded out with an art and stills gallery section, featuring costume designs, stills, posters, assorted sales artwork, lobby cards, and excerpts from the commemorative program. This section is very easy to navigate. This is an excellent package overall -- a way to find out more than one may ever have wanted to know about Cleopatra.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
This opulent epic -- at the time of its 1963 release the most expensive film ever made by a Hollywood studio -- still captivates audiences and deserves a place in movie history as the film that united Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton both on and off the screen. Their torrid affair during production made tabloid headlines and attracted more unwanted attention to an already troubled project that virtually bankrupted 20th Century Fox. Cleopatra’s literate, comprehensive script (primarily written by All About Eve’s Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also directed) covered an 18-year period leading up to the formation of the Roman Empire, beginning with Cleopatra’s historic meeting with Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison), the conqueror of her beloved Egypt, and ending with her oft-dramatized suicide. Visualizing the love affair between the Nile Queen and Marc Antony (Burton) enabled Mankiewicz to capture some sizzling scenes, and Taylor would never again look so alluring. But even her fabled beauty paled alongside the lavish sets, costumes, and hordes of extras deployed to re-create the splendor of ancient Rome. Derided by some as an overlong, kitschy mélange, Cleopatra has actually weathered the years quite well, and for many viewers it remains the epitome of screen spectacle. Fox’s DVD edition adds two documentaries, "The Film That Changed Hollywood" and "The Fourth Star of Cleopatra," along with footage from the film’s New York and Hollywood premieres.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]

Special Features

Behind-the-scenes documentary: "Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood"; 1963 featurette: "The Fourth Star of Cleopatra"; Archival footage from New York and Hollywood premiere; Commentary by Chris Mankiewicz, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau, and Jack Brodsky; Still gallery: behind-the-scenes photos, costume sketches, concept art; High-definition transfer; Anamorphic widescreen [aspect ratio: 2.35:1]; Audio: English 5.1 Surround, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround; Subtitles: English, Spanish

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra
Richard Burton Marc Antony
Rex Harrison Julius Caesar
Pamela Brown High Priestess
Roddy McDowall Octavian
George Cole Flavius
Martin Landau Rufio
Hume Cronyn Sosigenes
Kenneth Haigh Brutus
Andrew Keir Agrippa
Robert Stephens Germanicus
Francesca Annis Eiras
Gregoire Aslan Pothinos
Martin Benson Ramos
Herbert Berghof Theodotus
Jacqui Chan Lotos
Isabelle Cooley Charmian
John Doucette Achillas
Andrew Faulds Canidius
Michael Gwynn Cimber
John Hoyt Cassius
Marne Maitland Euphranor
Carroll O'Connor Casca
Richard O'Sullivan Ptolemy
Gwen Watford Calpurnia
Douglas Wilmer Decimus
Marina Berti Queen at Tarsus
John Karlsen High priest
Loris Loddi Caesarion, at age four
Jean Marsh Octavia
Gin Mart Marcellus
Furio Meniconi Mithridates
Kenneth Nash Caesarion, at age twelve
Del Russell Caesarion, at age seven
John Valva Valvus
John Alderton 1st Officer
Finlay Currie Titus
Marie Devereaux Actor
Peter Forster 2nd Officer
Jeremy Kemp Actor
Laurence Naismith Archesilaus
Michele Bally Actor
Cesare Danova Apollodorus
John Cairney Phoebus
Michael Hordern Cicero

Technical Credits
Joseph L. Mankiewicz Director,Screenwriter
L.B. Abbott Special Effects
David Berman Costumes/Costume Designer
Herman A. Blumenthal Art Director
Hilyard M. Brown Art Director
Sidney Buchman Screenwriter
Renie Conley Costumes/Costume Designer
Walden O. Corcoran Sound/Sound Designer
James Corcoran Sound/Sound Designer
John De Cuir Production Designer
Alberto de Rossi Makeup
C.O. Erickson Production Manager
Paul S. Fox Set Decoration/Design
Boris Juraga Art Director
Emil Kosa Special Effects
Ranald MacDougall Screenwriter
Ray Moyer Set Decoration/Design
Lionel Newman Musical Direction/Supervision
Alex North Score Composer
Vittorio Nino Novarese Costumes/Costume Designer
Hermes Pan Choreography
Maurice Pelling Art Director
Walter Scott Set Decoration/Design
Leon Shamroy Cinematographer
Irene Sharaff Costumes/Costume Designer
Fred R. Simpson Asst. Director
Jack Martin Smith Art Director
Dorothy Spencer Editor
Walter Wanger Producer
Elven Webb Art Director

Scene Index

Side #1 -- DISC I
0. Scene Selection
1. Overture [2:30]
2. Main Titles [2:26]
3. Ceasar's Triumph [4:17]
4. Alexandria [7:01]
5. Cleopatra [1:55]
6. The Falling Sickness [5:14]
7. An Audience [4:37]
8. The Great Fire [2:55]
9. Under Attack [1:20]
10. The Fatal Drink [5:11]
11. Caesar's Justice [6:18]
12. A New Ally [:36]
13. A New Lover [3:48]
14. One World [1:38]
15. Antony's Concern [:33]
16. A Son [2:20]
17. Leaving Egypt [4:02]
18. Dictator for Life [:58]
19. The Queen Conquers Rome [2:57]
20. A King in Training [1:41]
21. Emperor of Rome [3:41]
22. Caesar's Kingdom [1:51]
23. The Conspirators [5:17]
24. Visions of Death [:39]
25. The Dream is Over [2:50]
26. Entr'acte [3:44]
Side #2 -- DISC II
0. Scene Selection
1. Antony the Avenger [:00]
2. The Need for Egypt [:00]
3. Egypt Goes to Antony [:00]
4. Antony Comes to Egypt [:00]
5. Lovers at Last [:00]
6. The Problem with Antony [:00]
7. A Marriage of State [:00]
8. The Queen's Demands [:00]
9. Jealousy and Politics [:00]
10. A Forced War [:00]
11. Antony's Testament [:00]
12. Brave Simplicity [:00]
13. The Battle of Actium [:00]
14. Antony's Retreat [:00]
15. A Broken Man [:00]
16. Octavian's Demand [:00]
17. Waiting for Antony [:00]
18. Cleopatra's Decision [:00]
19. Two Legions Left [:00]
20. Antony Stands Alone [:00]
21. The Ultimate Desertion [:00]
22. The Dark Sleep [:00]
23. Antony is Dead! [:00]
24. By Right of Conquest [:00]
25. Preparing to Go [:00]
26. The Last Request [:00]


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Cleopatra 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Pinetail More than 1 year ago
This movie was just plain amazing! Its sort of long, but worth it! It was very hard to stop watching it once it became too late. Totally reccomend it! Brilliant acting and plot and set!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The movie should have won more awards such as best picture or best actress (liz Taylor). Its the greatest type of Cleoptra movie youll see for a long time. with the speacial edition DVD, you get scoop of how they made it and how it beacme to be. It is a MUST SEE MOVIE!
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is no equal to this film and Elizabeth Taylor never looked more amazing. The chemistry between Taylor and, then beau, Richard Burton was as hot on the screen as it was off screen and made for an intense love affair. From Cleopatra's unbelievable entrance into Rome to the tragic death of the queen herself, this film upholds the very magnificence that makes it the eternal classic that it is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The irony of ''Cleopatra'' is that it seems to be more famous and have a better following now than it did when it was released in 1963. Times have changed and movies too since then (but only somewhat - ''Gladiator''). What's so fantastic about ''Cleopatra'' was the enormous amount of work, energy, talent, money that went into it's production that wasn't appreciated at the time, but is now. Today, the movie would have won more Oscars than it did then, including ''Best Picture''. People didn't appreciate the effort then ( a lot of it due to the Taylor/Burton business off the screen). Still, when the picture premiered, it was like no other. ''Cleopatra'' cost $44 million dollars to make during it's filming from 1959 to 1963 and actually ended up being the most successful box-office film of 1963 with nearly $58 million in ticket sales. Even with the impressive top box-office award title, it still was only $15 million or so from what it cost to make and the near-bankruptcy of 20th Century Fox was not good for publicity either. All in all, ''Cleopatra'' should be viewed today for the grand epic it is and what it did bring to the screen and not for the flaws and hype it attracted back in 1963. It really is an excellent movie considering it is amazing it was ever even completed with all the problems. It has certainly done far better than other films that had disastrous production problems. You'll never see this film made again and even if they tried, they could never capture the class, grandeur, scope, talent that went into this one. This version truly is ''a work of art''. Too bad they don't re-release the film to be shown again at the theater. I imagine with today's world, it would be history all over again - but this time far more people would appreciate it and it would probably still make money.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fun film, nicely made epic and well worth a watch on DVD in letterbox. Should be a great buy. This is a classic example of old Hollywood's excess. The movie cost some $60 million and grossed less than $40 in the US. Was plagued with production troubles and spawned the famous Taylor-Burton romance. For more on the making of the pic, check out Curse of the Silver Screen - Tragedy & Disaster Behind the Movies - available from Aplomb Publishing and in the barnes and noble book section.
EliEli More than 1 year ago
It is great to have this wonderful movie on Blu-ray. Maybe someday they will find the missing footage from the 6 hour version. Roddy McDowall, Hume Cronyn, and Rex Harrison are all supposed to have scenes that were cut that show more of Cleopatra being extremely smart and a great Egyptian leader. What we are left with is a great love story that focuses on Mark Anthony and Cleopatra's love affair that parallels the actor's own real love story. Roddy McDowall should have got an Academy Award for his acting, maybe the missing footage would have made a difference.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheMGMKid More than 1 year ago
That a film as good as CLEOPATRA is was created at all under the madness and panic of it's legendary production is indeed an amazing feat. That CLEOPATRA has been given such loving care in it's restoration in this DVD of the "Road show" print is a wondrous gift to those who love this film. 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. Also his insights into what was cut from the film, particularly his and Richard Burton's contributions in the second act give one the idea of what Mankiewicz was intending. Poor Richard suffered the unkindest cut of all. The presentation of the DVD menus are so clever and exotic and are to be commended in their art direction. At last we now know what is behind the massive 20th Century Fox logo! The film itself remains what it has always been, a good film that might have been great if only Zanuck had but trusted Joe Mankiewicz' original vision. In the documentary it is stated that Fox is looking for the missing film, one can only hope that they succeed. The performances range from excellent to good. Particular praise must go to Rex Harrison, Richard Burton, Martin Landau, Robert Stephens, Andrew Keir, and Roddy McDowall. Lastly in this department there remains Elizabeth Taylor's performance as Cleopatra. At the films release she got the brickbats and for reasons that had nothing to do with her performance. It is always hard to separate the history of the lady from her film roles. But here in this film is where she became the ELIZABETH TAYLOR she has remained in the mind of the world to this day. In this fact alone she is perfect in the role. She is at once regal and commanding, strong and tender, soft and hard. The contradictions that have always been at the heart of Cleopatra herself, the public enigma wrapped within a mystery. In her performance as written by Mankiewicz she is probably not too far off from the historical Cleopatra. Ever since Judith Crist gave CLEOPATRA the needle in 1963 and in the act made her name, the public, for the most part, has viewed this film a failure. But today, stripped of the scandal, hype and hysteria of its release in June of '63 it is now possible to view CLEOPARTA as the
JCarter More than 1 year ago
Though not received well by audiences when it was released, Cleopatra seems to have gained somewhat of a following today. The stormy romance between Cleopatra and Marc Antony was nothing compared to the marriages of Burton and Taylor. However, on the screen they were magic. The sets were straight out of a Demille epic and on a huge scale. The photography was superb and there is a long list of supporting actors who went on to bigger careers later especially in television.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Joseph L. Mankiewicz' direction of this 1963 film was, for the longest time, the biggest flop in Hollywood history However, when one sees the phenomenal sets and impeccable acting, one begins to wonder why this film had such a bad rap. The film failed to attract audiences simply because the genre was fading out of the spotlight after the preceding decades' major successes of 'The Ten Commandments', 'Ben Hur', 'Quo Vadis', 'Spartacus', etc. 'Cleopatra' expected to ride on the wave of success as the latter did but simply found itself at low tide. There was also some bad publicity due to the love affair between Taylor and Burton. So much money had been spent on the lavish costumes, sets, locations, and actors that it couldn't make a profit when it was released. The truth of the film is that it is technically brilliant in every way. The movie brushes over Cleopatra's (Elizabeth Taylor) relations with Caesar (Rex Harrison) because the main focus is Mark Antony (Richard Burton.) Depsite this rushed plot, Rex Harrison's confident and affable performance brings the character of Caesar to life without flaw. This being primarily a romantic tragedy, both Caesar's and Marc Antony's military exploits are very briefly touched upon; the main battle scene in the film is the decisive naval engagement of Actium . Richard Burton delivers an outstanding performance as Marcus Antonius; Caesar's most trusted legate. Burton's powerful acting brings to the forefront Marc Antony's bachid personality. It seems that Burton and Taylor's love affair during the film simply added to the legendary magnetism between the two doomed lovers. Finally, Roddy McDowell delivers an impeccable performance as Octavian; Caesar's sickly adopted son who would soon give the coup de grace to the failing Roman Republic and become the sole master of Rome as Emperor Augustus. The plot is character driven and the actors deliver outstanding performances. The substance of script is primarily based on the anecdotal history of the characters as recited in Plutarch's classic work 'Lives' and this gives the film a sense of authentic classical flair. This is complemented by one of the most lavish sets and backdrops ever to be made in Hollywood history. A simply brilliant film that one can watch over and over again without ever getting tired. I would strongly recommend this edition for one's collection.
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