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Cleopatra (Special Edition, 3 DVDs)

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Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 1963 / Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Rouben Mamoulian, Darryl F. Zanuck / Actors: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton ... / DVD released 15 April, 2002 at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Box set, PAL, Special Edition, Widescreen

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    5 Reviews
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      15.12.2008 23:55
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      Cleopatra

      CLEOPATRA is an epic movie starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Rex Harrison. The story takes place over two thousand years ago, back in the days when Rome was ruled by Julius Caesar (Harrison). Cleopatra (Taylor) seduces him and uses him to reclaim power over Egypt, which she had lost to her brother. After Caesar dies Cleopatra then takes up with his once right-hand-man Marc Anthony (Burton).

      This is the kind of epic moviemaking that doesn't really happen these days. It almost bankrupted its film studio when it was being made, and is often seen as being a costly flop. However the film itself is very enjoyable. This version, the 3 disc edition, features the most complete version ever released on home video, with the 4 hour version split across 2 discs. The transfer is fantastic, with both video and audio being of exceptional quality. The extras on the disc are well worth watching to gain a greater understanding of the context in which the film was made.

      A fantastic purchase, this comes highly recommended.

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        03.04.2008 02:17
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        A fantastic movie if you're not in a hurry.

        This length epic is such an astonishingly great film it must come top of my list of Saturday afternoon movies, so this three DVD special edition set is just what I need to indulge my enthusiasm on a regular basis. Containing the "Director's Cut" (I've never understood why the director's cut is not the same as the original film - what's the point of being the director if you don't decide that?). Anyway, this version is even longer than the original, and that was over three hours, so really and truly I don't need nearly four hours of this film to fill a rainy Saturday - you'd basically need a whole weekend if you wanted to watch all of it!

        Famously the movie is the set where Elizabeth Taylor met Richard Burton, and even before it was released it was a great talking point, due to this and the size of the budget, as well as Taylor's fee. Sumptuous and engaging, it portrays the life of that great, last Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, and her relationships with both Caesar and Mark Antony as well as her attempts to keep her Kingdom. The scene where she arrives in Rome with her son Caesarion is probably my favourite film clip ever. The elephants alone are amazing never mind the acting!

        Everybody is in it, and it's quite simply a must see. The story of Cleopatra is a great one, and this film really delivers on a great script. The chemistry sizzles between Taylor as Cleopatra and Burton as Mark Antony and there are great supporting performances by Rex Harrison as Caesar, Martin Landau, Roddy McDowell, George Cole, Francesca Annis and Michael Hordern, to name but a few.

        If you've never seen this film then I strongly recommend it. You could just buy the normal film though!

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          08.11.2000 01:00
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          I’m not a fan of old films, generally, and without wanting to upset any other members, I do consider films made in 1963 to be ‘old’. However, after reading a fantastic book about Cleopatra and having learned oodles of fascinating history in the process, I was interested to see how this famous film portrayed the amazing life of this extraordinary ruler. My hopes were not high, and it was just as well. If I had not just read a book about the same subject, I would have found the film very hard to follow. The film is four hours long, but so much is covered in it that I felt that events were being rushed through too quickly, without giving enough time for the viewer to absorb the importance and impact of said events. Scene changes were very confusing too. Sometimes, we left Antony and Cleopatra in Alexandria, happy and in love; next scene, a messenger is telling Cleopatra that Antony has married Octavian back in Rome. Eh? The events are very briefly explained a few scenes later on, but that still left me a few minutes of puzzlement, which in turn detracted from the following scenes as I struggled to make sense of it all. Would you believe I had never seen either Elizabeth Taylor or Richard Burton in a film before? Maybe their reputations as all-time Hollywood giants meant I was expecting to be blown away by their breathtaking performances – sadly, I failed to discover that special spark that I was looking for. I was expecting more passion between their characters; to be honest, when Antony died (oh sorry, just given away the ending), Cleopatra seemed to take it too much in her stride for my liking. This could, of course, be due to the evolution of acting styles over the years; the symbolic or over-dramatic performances that were in favour back then have been replaced by a more true-to-life method – and I, for one, am not sorry about it. By far the most outstanding performance was Rex Harrison as Julius C
          aesar. His convincing portrayal of the lovestruck conqueror was very enjoyable to watch, and was by far the strong point of the film. It was very inconsiderate of Caesar to go and die halfway through! The most moving part of the film for me was the moment when Octavian’s army was approaching Alexandria, and Antony had finally recovered from his depression and rejoined his legions. Antony suspects some of his soldiers will desert to Octavian’s camp during the night, so he asks Rufio to wake him before dawn, in case the guards that would normally do it should have gone. Antony wakes up himself just after dawn and rushes outside, only to see a completely deserted camp, and to find loyal Rufio dead from his own sword. The image of Antony standing there all alone in the middle of a huge camp of empty tents and barely-smouldering fires brought a lump to my throat. “Cleopatra” is by no means the worst film I have ever seen. But film production has come a long way since then, and a good thing that is too. If there is any lesson to be learned, I would say that it is that millions of dollars spent on elaborate sets, thousands of extras and big names are not enough to ensure a box office smash. Oh Mr. Fox, half a pound of hindsight with that Egyptian headdress, please, to go.

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            10.07.2000 00:22
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            The famous epic starring Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, Richard Burton as Marc Anthony, and Rex Harrison as Caesar is one of the longest films I've watched! It's almost 4 hours long but in the main is a pleasure. The enormous sets, stunning locations and outstanding costumes are lavish in the extreme, hundreds of extras, outrageous amounts of money must have been spent on this film. It's bright and colourful, *fairly* accurate as far as history goes, even in small details. The performances are surprising for the time, the actors really get stuck into their parts (although there is some good old fashioned overacting!). There are other well known faces in the film too, people who have gone on to great careers since. Cleopatra is played as a strong woman, considering that Girl Power wasn't around in the 60s, which is what she was. I couldn't watch it all the way through, I kept getting itchy feet, so I watched it while I was doing the ironing, sorting out the washing, cooking the Sunday dinner. The film is famous for the behind the scenes stories and it's hard not to remember them while you are watching the film yet they don't detract from it. Enjoyable!

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            26.06.2000 04:55

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            This movie was famous for being famous, even before it was made! A film of epic proportions...the cast, the scenery, Elizabeth Taylor's fee... The papers of the day were full of tales from the movie set, mainly to do with Richard Burton's boozing and the affair between himself and Elizabeth. Unfortunately the film rather got lost somewhere amongst all that publicity. When viewed today, it is clearly the product of another period in movie making. Richard Burton is wonderful as Marc Antony, and Rex Harrison a good Julius Caesar and it is worth seeking out their performances, there is much to enjoy here, if you are willing to sit through rather a lot of frippery without too much substance. It's worth looking out for a host of well known actor's in small roles, such as Francesca Annis, Roddy McDowall and Martin Landau.

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        • Product Details

          Still the most expensive movie ever made, Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox. It also scandalised the world with the very public affair of its two major stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. But Joseph L Mankiewicz's 1963 epic deserves to be remembered for more than its off-screen troubles. An extravagantly elaborate production, the sets and costumes alone are awe-inspiring; Mankiewicz's own literate screenplay draws heavily on the classics and Shakespeare; while the supporting cast, led by Rex Harrison as Caesar and Roddy McDowall as his nephew (and future emperor) Octavian, are all first-rate thespians and generally put in more convincing performances than either of the two leads. Mankiewicz's original intention was to make two three-hour films: the first being Caesar and Cleopatra, the second Antony and Cleopatra. But before the film’s completion, and following a boardroom coup worthy of Ancient Rome itself, legendary mogul Darryl F Zanuck took back control of Fox and insisted that Cleopatra be cut to a more economical length. A heartbroken Mankiewicz was forced to trim his six-hour vision down to four. This was the "roadshow" version shown at the film’s premiere and now restored here for the first time. Then following adverse criticism and pressure from cinema chains Zanuck demanded more cuts, and the final released version ran a mere three hours--half the original length. Capitalising on the feverish publicity surrounding Burton and Taylor, the shortened version played up both their on- and off-screen romance. This longer four-hour roadshow version allows for a broader view of the film, adding some depth to the politics and manipulation of the characters. But the director’s original six-hour edit has been lost. Perhaps one day it will be rediscovered in the vaults and Mankiewicz’s much-maligned movie will finally be seen the way it was meant to be. Until then, Cleopatra remains an epic curiosity rather than the complete spectacle it should be. On the DVD: this handsome three-disc set spreads the restored four-hour print of the movie across two discs. The anamorphic widescreen print looks quite magnificent and Alex North’s wondrous score comes up like new in Dolby 5.1 sound. There’s a patchy and only intermittently revealing commentary from Chris Mankiewicz, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau and Jack Brodsky. Much better is the comprehensive two-hour documentary that occupies disc three, which tells in hair-raising detail the extraordinary story of a film production that became totally out of control. This is accompanied by some short archival material, but the documentary alone is a compelling reason to acquire this set. --Mark Walker