The 1963 film presents extravagance, opulence. The costumes worn were lavish and the scene entering Rome portrays not the decadence of her life style, but that of the film production. Furthermore, the 1963 film compared to the 1917 film which showed more hieroglyphics on the walls and columns which was the stereotypic view of ancient egyptian life. The budget of later adaptations would have been a factor. Nowadays television provides a much easier and cost effective form of production.
The other considerations for the films and television programs over this period of time is the view of the female in the world as a whole. What difference do we see in the power of the woman Theda Bara at a time when females in the early 1900 were campaigning for the vote? When they were taking the main role in factories, and on land in all forms of manufacturing, during the two world wars. We then come to the first of what can be called the modern women with Elizabeth Taylor.
It could be argued that she is how we imagine Cleopatra to be. When you look at the dvd case and the book of reputations presented to us for the first assignment, are they not the eyes of Elizabeth Taylor? (AA100 Reputations Book). Then on to Xena in which we have a black Cleopatra in the television adaptation, we see the female turn warrior but still very feminine. – (AA100 DVD). The view in the 1917 film I feel shows her as a dippy, demure and in some ways subservient female.
As time moves on to the 1960 we see her as a stronger, forceful and intelligent being, but still plays the role to some extent of wife and mother in mid-20th century society. The 21st century adaptation with Xena has had a great impact throughout the world on our view of Cleopatra. The use of television and the internet shows the power shift between male and females over the last 100 years in society shifting towards the female. In 1917 and 1963, Cleopatra appeared as a white Euro/American.
Should she in fact have been played by somebody from Greece or North Africa? In conclusion to the comparison of Cleopatra over the the last 100 years on film and television, do we see her in a different light? With more data available it would be irresponsible not to take a more measured view of what we have learnt of her. She has changed from the “dippy” interpretation to the steely-eyed head of state.
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