MCL Films S.A. and Walwa Films S.A. Released 1963




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Movie Summary

Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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Cleopatra is a sweeping historical drama giving Elizabeth Taylor perhaps her most famous role, her first opposite Richard Burton, whom she later married. This 1963 film, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, was, by a wide margin, the most expensive film production ever, at the time of its initial release. The film begins in 48 B.C., when Cleopatra charms Julius Caesar into helping her wrest control of Egypt from her brother, Ptolemy. He wins the campaign, naming Cleopatra the sole ruler of Egypt and takes her as his mistress. But Rome demands Caesar's return to Italy, where he is assassinated. A few years later, Mark Antony now rules the Eastern provinces of the Roman Empire, sharing power with Octavian. When Antony and Cleopatra meet, they begin a passionate affair. Antony refuses the Senate's call to return to Rome, so Octavian devises a plan to vanquish his political rival permanently and consolidate power into his own hands.


Metacritic Score

  • 90


    The film is absolutely beautiful, with some of the most gorgeous sets and images ever committed to celluloid. The three main actors are just incredible - the first two hours are ca...

  • 80

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Cleopatra is not a great movie. But it is primarily a vast, popular entertainment that sidesteps total greatness for broader appeal. This is not an adverse criticism, but a notatio...

  • 50

    Slant Magazine Chuck Bowen

    Cleopatra is, disappointingly, neither a visionary masterpiece nor a fascinating catastrophe, but something altogether more banal: an unusually intimate epic that falls very flat.

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The narration was spoken by an uncredited Ben Wright.

    • The budget for this film was finally calculated at some $40,000,000 - making it, in 1963, by far the most expensive film that had ever been made. (This would be equivalent to more than $600,000,000 in 2014 money). The second-most expensive film to that time was the previous year's remake of Mutiny On The Bounty, which cost less than half as much.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Octavian: [on being told Antony is dead}: Is that how one says it? As simply as that? The soup is hot, the soup is cold. Antony is alive, Antony is dead.

    • Mark Antony: You dare to ask the Proconsul of Rome to kneel before you?
      Cleopatra: I asked it of Julius Caesar. I demand it of you.

  • NOTES (2)

    • The film is often spoken of as a financial failure, not least because it cost so very much, but, in fact, it eventually went into profit, chiefly as a result of a lucrative television sale. Twentieth Century Fox went so far as to hold a press conference to announce the fact. Studio Head Darryl F. Zanuck wryly referred to it as "a nice little break-even".

    • The film won 4 Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Special Visual Effects.


More Info About This Movie


Biography, Love & Romance, Classics, Epics