Assessment Number: 1
AA100 The Arts Past and Present
For the first part of the assessment I will be comparing the 1964 film Cleopatra to the 1934 film Cleopatra. The first thing that struck me is that both films are quite similar.
For example the 1964 film and the 1932 film both emphasise the past as luxurious and extravagant. This is seen by the use of elaborate clothes, hairstyles and jewellery. Take the scene where Cleopatra enters Rome. This scene cost over $1 million to make, and the whole film was the most expensive movie to be made at that time. You can see in the 1934 adaptation when Cleopatra meets Julia Cesar the extravagance of the big columns and the fancy jewellery around her neck and wrist, this was to fit in with the Art Deco age.
Another similarity between the two films is the way Cleopatra is played. The 1934 film and 1963 film share a theme of romance. Unlike the 1917 adaptation of Cleopatra where Cleo is portrayed as a threatening, sexual manipulator. She is portrayed by Claudette Colbert in the 1934 film as flirtatious without being sexually dominating. Colbert was a good choice for this role as she is known to play romantic roles. And in the 1963 film Cleopatra is in a love triangle with Julia Cesar and Mark Antony. The characters romance in the film was also being run with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burtons off screen romance.
The only difference between these two movies is that in the 1963 film Cleopatra is also portrayed as slightly imperious and tactile. This portrayal of Cleopatra is not as dominant as the Cleopatra in 1917 film but not as nonchalant as Colbert’s Cleopatra in 1934. She uses her dominance to pinpoint the weaknesses of her enemies, you can see this in the scene where she demands Mark Anthony to kneel before her.
In the 1934 film Cleopatra was used the past of ancient Egypt and used Colbert ‘as a type of mannequin’ (Trevor Fear talking about Colbert in Cleopatra, 2008, Reputations DVD) to market fashion with an arrangement of hairstyles and clothes. The film was also marketed as a romance and reflected Cleopatra as a flirt instead of a seducer. This is because the film was set at a time of ‘the new woman in 1920s and 30s America’ (Trevor Fear talking about Colbert in Cleopatra, 2008, Reputations DVD) where there was a continued fight for women’s equality, and groups such as the legion of decency (which was created by the Catholic Church) organised boycotts of certain films which didn’t promote the idea of a stable, moral nuclear family.
Like the 1934 fi...