Cleopatra is one of those polarizing figures in history. From a certain perspective, one could argue that she was a strong female leader in a world where men normally ruled. On the other hand, her time in power was not scandal free.
In the 1963 film, Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor plays the eponymous queen. Rex Harrison is Julius Caesar and Richard Burton is Mark Anthony. The film starts with the initial introduction of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar and ends years later with Cleopatra’s suicide after the death of Mark Anthony.
I have complicated feelings about this film. One hand, it is as historically accurate as films of this nature can be from this period (including the fact that Arab/African characters, including Cleopatra herself, are played by white actors). The other thing is that this film will forever be associated with the Eddie Fisher/Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton scandal. At the time of the making of the film, Elizabeth Taylor was married to Eddie Fisher, who left his first wife, Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor. By the time filming was complete, Eddie and Elizabeth’s relationship was at an end and Elizabeth was headed toward her next husband, Richard Burton.
Do I recommend it? Well it is super long and it is, for lack of a better term a spectacle that I am not quite sure is 100% historically accurate. The answer is maybe.
Among the kings that ruled England, Henry VIII was unique. His appetites for everything were legendary. In his quest for a male heir, he would marry six times.
There is no shortage of dramatizations of Henry’s life.
In 1969, Richard Burton stepped into the shoes of the legendary king in Anne Of A Thousand Days. Playing opposite Richard was Genevieve Bujold as his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Henry has been married to Catherine Of Aragon for many years, but no son had come out of the marriage. Extremely eager to have a son and taken by Anne, Henry divorces Catherine to marry Anne. But the marriage is tumultuous and as history records, will be short lived.
I like this movie. Richard Burton, as a middle aged, slightly bloated and a little egotistical Henry was perfect. Genevieve Bujold as Anne, was young, passionate and more than a little eager to do whatever was necessary to secure her place as Queen Of England.
Nearly forty years later, another movie based on the lives of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn was released. But this movie was from an entirely different point of view. The Other Boleyn Girl, based on the 2002 book of the same name by Phillipa Gregory was released into theaters in 2008. The story is of two sisters, Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary who are competing for the affection of Henry VIII. Mary (Scarlett Johansson) was one of Henry’s (Eric Bana) mistresses before she was discarded in favor of her sister, Anne (Natalie Portman).
I like this movie. Mary Boleyn, historically speaking, is not as well known as her sister. It’s nice to see her story told.
I recommend both.