Movie Madness Mondays – Cleopatra

At a most critical time in history, a young woman uses her brains and beauty to save her country from ruins. She is Cleopatra, the rightful heir to Egypt’s throne. Though history portrays Cleopatra as a manipulative ambitious woman who schemed her way to rule Egypt, as well as the Roman Empire, Cleopatra, the 1963 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor as the historical Queen of Egypt, gives heart and soul to the misunderstood ruler who wanted what was best for her country. Cleopatra, a lush epic movie, takes place right at the point where Caesar storms into Egypt and ends at her tragic death years later by a serpent’s poisonous bite. A classic “big” movie by all means, the movie is a scrumptious feast for the eyes in colors of gold, purple, and turquoise…colors known to be worn by royalty. Detailed ornate sets, elaborate costumes, and rich dialogue gives the film the feel of a well-acted stage play. A sympathetic portrayal of the doomed Queen, Taylor played Cleopatra as a level-headed intelligent young woman, wise beyond her years, and a capable leader equal to the greatest of men. She was noble, respected among world leaders, well-loved by her people, and was a full-bodied woman who made no apologies for being a woman. In other words, she was a woman’s woman and also a man’s woman…the original bombshell, who spoke 7 languages, was schooled in science and math, and “if she was not a woman, she would be considered an intellectual.”
I always felt Cleopatra was misunderstood. She was a strong woman born into royalty at a time when women were thought of as inferior to men. Because I wanted to show the vulnerable human side to the greatest woman leader in history, I portrayed a young innocent Cleopatra at age 17 in my tween fiction book, Lucy and the Beauty Queen. The book provided a slice of life view of a girl being transformed into the ruler of a powerful country immediately following the death of her father, the pharaoh. Despite a few critics telling me I’ve got Cleopatra all wrong…she was an evil wicked ambitious woman, I’m proud of sticking to my guns in portraying Cleopatra sympathetically, despite the critics and their view of Cleopatra. Although I didn’t go into as much detail as the movie, I did show how she was like any teenage girl her age out to experience adventure and love, but bonded by royal blood to do what is best for her people. Do you think if Cleopatra wasn’t born a girl, but a boy, she would have been written into history books as a brilliant political strategist and great ruler, rather than a manipulative woman who was more known for her remarkable allure and tragic love affairs with men? Do you think it is necessary and fair to see Cleopatra in a different perspective other than our world history books? If you were suddenly challenged to run your country at a time of civil unrest and possible war, would you and could you set aside your own dreams to do what is best for your people? Is it acceptable for women to be ambitious? Your thoughts?
Kailin (aka Victoria London)
This is a long movie at 4 hours so get a big bag of popcorn, or rather, a barrel lol!


19 Responses to “Movie Madness Mondays – Cleopatra”

  1. Chris Says:

    hmm one movie I actually have seen 😛

    I def think history have misinterpreted women and their role in society. Its only recently that we paid more attention to their role.

    There might have been so many women whom we don’t even know of who did great things. There is a cool exhibition called the Dinner Party in which the artist focused more on women whom are less spoken or never heard of in history books. I got to say seeing all the names of these women whom I didn’t learn about in history class was a bit overwhelming,

    I also don’t think its wrong that we shouldn’t look at Cleopatra in another light. History books tend to be biased. I think what is so great about books is that they can show you the human-ness of a person…something you can’t get from a textbook.

  2. Kailin Says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m glad you’ve seen the movie. It’s very loooong so it does scare some people away…it did back in the day when it first came out (so I’ve heard). It’s an oldie, but such a classic.

    Thank you for sharing about that cool exhibit. I agree…there are a countless amount of faceless, nameless women in history who have made a difference in society that we’ve never heard of before. But behind every strong or successful woman/man we hear about, there is another.

    Love your comment!

  3. Binks Says:

    CHRIS!!! I HATE YOU DUDE! That was one of my fav art pieces we studied in Art History 😦 I wanna go see it! *cries in corner*

    ANYWAYS….back to the movie. I loved the questions you posed. Yeah, I do think if she were a guy there’d be less critique on her, if she were a dude they’d be less harsh. Cause lets face it, the woman was strong as heck. To be a woman and a ruler in those day and ages means she had to be double fierce and more cunning than her men counterparts. Of course women can be ambitious, we are human after all.

    So kailin, u a writer then? Sounds pretty awesome. 😎

  4. Kailin Says:

    Hi Binks,

    I like your attitude. “Of course women can be ambitious, we are human after all.” I think women have to be twice the “man” to be taken as seriously as one, don’t you think? But at the same time, women have to still look good. Huh? Alright, I fall into that, too. That’s why I’m a total fan of Cleo – she’s known for hanging with the guys, and for her contribution to beauty.

    About being a writer…I write because it is my voice. It is my breath and reason for being.

    Everyone needs to have a form of expression. I was very shy, and at one point, I spoke only through the written word. That all changed in high school, though, when I discovered DRAMA. Acting and being on stage is such an adrenaline rush. Everyone needs to have an outlet for their creativity.

    Love your BOD profile by-the-way. And the name BINKS. Cool.


  5. taylor nikole Says:

    I still haven’t seen it -_-
    although liked the review, therefore
    must see movie 🙂

  6. Kailin Says:

    Thanks taylor nikole,

    Since you’re an actress, you will appreciate the dialogue. This movie has some great lines delivered by some of the greatest actors – Christopher Plummer and Richard Burton. Gotta love Elizabeth Taylor, too. Although she was also such a misunderstood actress, just like Marilyn Monroe (who was known mostly for being a sex kitten) even though she wanted to be a mother and even a dramatic actress. I think a lot of actresses back in those days can relate to Cleo. Meaning Cleo, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe were more known for their looks than their whole essence/person. Do you think that’s true for actresses today?

    Love to hear your thoughts…


  7. Ashley Says:

    I thought it was pretty cool!! It was my first time watching something like that, though it’s long like I love how it just shows what you set you’re mind too, if you keep going it’ll come true. And I totally believe it. But I would totally recommend it.

    Nice pick guys!!

    🙂 XD

  8. taylor nikole Says:

    haha I love Elizabeth Taylor…
    I really admire actors and actresses from the 50’s because it was sooo….
    i don’t even know how to describe it besides…

    you know…
    There wasn’t the same editing… they even sang when the camera was rolling opposed to pre recording and morphing voices to sound better…


    but ultimately thats a hard one to answer…
    not only is there talent that is needed but this whole other side that is just.. looks
    its ridiculous

    I’ve had very specific casting calls…
    for auditions if you don’t show up a certain way they really don’t look at you…
    unless you shine in the audition room 🙂
    My acting coach even told me it was nice to stay at least 100 pounds or so and not go over -_-
    i took that as…. umm eat everything in the fridge
    i swear i hear the opposite

    but really i think I think its stayed fairly the same…
    Especially now… it seems alot of everything is fake LOL

  9. taylor nikole Says:

    oh that post was supposed to say

  10. Kailin Says:

    Hey Taylor Nikole (I just thought I’d give you a shout out like the one in bold print announcing your review of Twilight. Great review by-the-way. Kathy’s posts are always hilarious.)

    So your acting coach told you to stay below 100 lbs and you can still eat everything in the fridge? What do you have in your fridge, girl, because I want some of that! lol.

  11. Kailin Says:

    ok, for those of you who have seen the movie, what did you think of Cleopatra? Was she a manipulator, a schemer, a wicked selfish person as many history books seem to say she was or did she seem to outsmart the Romans?

    For those who haven’t seen the movie, would you consider Cleopatra from what you know about her, to be a role model for women? Would she be one of the people you’d love to have dinner with? (I know most people say they’d love to have dinner with Einstein or Shakespeare, but what about Cleo? She was an intellectual after all…and studied under the best philosophers.)

  12. taylor nikole Says:

    well im a vegetarian anyhow…so that helps me keep a constant weight… but I can’t eat much of what’s in my fridge.. lol

    and no I did that because im a bit defiant and if someone says I should do somthig im not completely happy with like maintain my weight for other… thenn ima do the opposite… (im horrible)
    haha but im also barely 5 foot.. so its not too hard to manage lol

    and yeah… im like I’ll get as fat as I want lol!

  13. Gina Says:

    I’m sorry, I can’t say! I haven’t seen that movie in forever. But when I do see it, I’ll get back to you all. ^_^

  14. Kailin Says:

    Great comments everyone! Hope you will find the time to watch the movie…not only for discussion’s sake, but because this is THE movie that made a woman (Elizabeth Taylor) the highest paid actor up to that point in movieland. She was the first actor in 1959 to receive an unheard of $1 mil for a film. Talk about Girl Power! Yup, the first actor to receive the most pay for a film was a woman. In the ’50s, too. Yay! In Hollywood no less. Talk about a woman actor shattering the ceiling.

    So…did Elizabeth Taylor channel her inner Cleo? Just kidding. As if.

    Is there something we can learn from being Cleo?

    I find Cleo’s such an interesting character. Don’t get me wrong, I find lots of historical characters interesting. But she’s shrouded in mystery, and for someone who made two powerful men almost give up their country for her, there is more to her than just the history books.

    Anyways, I always find women especially women leaders more interesting. There are more obstacles…more stereotypes that get in the way of leading. That’s why I write fiction for girls..

    @Binks ….like the new tween series called “Global Girls of America Series” coming out in 2009…

    And after being at enough book signings and getting enough boys and their parents asking me why don’t I write for boys, too, I am finally writing a fiction series for tween boys called “Harold the Kung Fu Kid”, also coming out in 2009. It’s about a boy whom everyone thinks knows kung fu, but really doesn’t. Although the title character is a boy, girls can still enjoy reading the books.

    Thanks for letting me elaborate on my writing 🙂 I don’t think I really did answer your question/comment really before…kinda got carried away with what it is like to be a writer so I missed your question. Like in any profession, you have to be real passionate about what you do. Because passion will carry you through the rewrites (or in a director’s case…the retakes…or in the editor’s case…you get what I mean.)

  15. Kathy Says:

    I haven’t watched the movie (dude…4 hours?  lol.), and on top of that, history has never been my strongest subject (although I do think it’s fascinating…I just never thought so when I was learning it in school.  lol.).  So I don’t know much about Cleopatra, but what little I do know of her comes from this article I read in Natural History magazine (the magazine for the American Museum of Natural History in NY), and I gotta say, it sure sounds like she had a full life.  The woman who wrote the article is an Egyptologist and took an interesting approach by writing in first-person, in Cleopatra’s voice.  If you’re interested, here’s a link to the article (it’s not up at the Natural History site for whatever reason, even though it was the cover story):

    When I was reading the article, the first thing that came across my mind was, “Whoa!  Can we say dysfunctional?”  lol.  Man, brothers and sisters plotting against each other and betrayals left and right.  I guess things were different back then?  Anyway, man or woman, those were tough times to navigate in Egypt.  Again, I don’t know much about history, so I’m not familiar with the notion that Cleopatra has been represented as a manipulative person, but you know…I don’t necessarily think being manipulative is bad, even though it has that connotation is our culture.  I mean, the woman was the queen of Egypt, ruled over a rich and fertile region, and had to contend with very powerful, ambitious people who wanted control of such land.  I think you HAVE to be manipulative in order to navigate those waters in a way that protects your own interests while resulting in the least amount of suffering and bloodshed, which, it seems to me, is what Cleopatra tried to do.  So kudos to Cleopatra!

    Anyway, thanks for the review Kailin!  I never would’ve thought of this movie.  I actually don’t think I’ve ever watched anything with Elizabeth Taylor in it.  That’s cool that she was the first person to break the million-dollar barrier in Hollywood.  🙂

    And I hope your mom is kicking cancer’s butt!  🙂

    And thanks for that link Chris.  Next time I’m in Brooklyn, I’ll try to check out that exhibit.  Sounds neat.  🙂  All together now…which city rocks the block?  New York!  New Yooooooork!  😉

  16. Kailin Says:


    Yup, Cleo’s family was dysfunctional with a capital D. And her marrying her little brother and then going into almost Civil War with him… boy that makes for a good soap opera, doesn’t it?

    Thanks for the link to the Natural History article…definitely tells it as it is. The movie, of course, is a bit different, though.

    Yes, my mom is kicking butt, but it helps to keep a great attitude and be positive (thanks for Brooke’s Happiness List…I’m using it as therapy ha ha, no – I use it as a reminder to keep a great attitude.)

    I love…absolutely love New York, but I have to say, and this is the absolute truth…when I visited Vancouver for the first time in 2001, my husband and I talked seriously about getting a cool condo there as a 2nd home. Wished we had. Anyhoo, I’m based in Los Angeles…exciting fun place, too.

  17. AJ Says:

    Good movie pick! I loved your review because it captured the heartbeat of the film.

  18. AJ Says:

    Good movie choice! The review got right to the heartbeat of the movie.

  19. AJ Says:

    uh duh. I thought my comment didn’t show up at first. sorry for repeating. *slaps hand on on top of forehead*

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