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Portrayals of Cleopatra Essay Sample

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Portrayals of Cleopatra Essay Sample

What do the representations of Cleopatra in film and on tv (as shown on DVD) tell us about how her reputation changed over time? Discuss with reference to two or three representations.

The mere mention of Cleopatra’s name invokes differing thoughts and images so therefore it is no surprise that over the years both her representation and reputation have changed and this can be clearly seen through her protrayl on the big screen and television. And with each change a glimpse of society at that time can clearly be seen. The three representations I will be looking at are the films from 1917 with Theda Bara, 1963 with Elizabeth Taylor and the HBO series Rome (1990). All three of these show her in a different way from forboding to a sexual tease. Within the 1917 film with Theda Bara the emphasis is very much of Egypt being threatening whilst being exotic and alluring. This was the Egypt that people had come to expect. Exotic but still alien to them, filled with symbols and strange monuments. Within this exotic world sat a powerful, ominous figure that is Cleopatra. Everything about her is threatening and powerful. Even from her pose on the film’s poster demonstrates this. The stance is straight on showing both aggressive and defensiveness.

She is not smiling and the poster is about her and nobody else. This links back to the idea that powerful woman were dangerous and fitted into the alien environment of Egypt well. She is shown as beautiful, rich, powerful and a sexual dominator. However this all disappears as the 1963 production hit the screens. Still there is the exotic elorborance and luxury of before but gone is the stern, scary character, having been replaced by a shrewd stateswoman who knows how to get what she wants. This can be seen in the scene where she orders Anthony to kneel in front of her. Preconceived ideas are used to her full advantage. It is clear that this film reflects contemporary issues which again would affect how C. Is portrayed. The scene in front of the tomb of Alexander shows a close link to the idea of one world, an idea that can be linked to both JFK and Martin Luther King. Women of this era were becoming ever more independent so it seems fitting that C. Was shown as a woman that knew her own mind.

Although the independence of women did affect this 1963 film, the true affect of the liberation of women can be truely seen in the HBO series Rome. Gone is any sillyness. Gone is the serious, threatening C. Present is a woman who is strong and powerful and not afraid to use anything to get her own way. The scene in which she becomes pregnant by a soldier clearly shows this. However this scene would never have worked within the 1960s production so this is true testament that the time era has a huge affect on the portrayl of C. When all three sourses are looked at it can clearly be seen that the portrayl of C. Does indeed change and develop over the years, in lione with social, economical and political issues of that era. From alien and threatening to a clever, shrewd woman who gets want she wants. The same underlying issues can be seen, romance and power, it is just the way they are shown change. C. Remains one of the most famous woman within history and how she is portrayed will always vary to suit the opinions of those portraying her.

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