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The film industry has produced several depictions of the great Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Is Elizabeth Taylor's version the best?

Hollywood’s Iconic Cleopatra: A Comparison of Elizabeth Taylor and Claudette Colbert

The film industry has produced several depictions of the great Egyptian queen Cleopatra by employing highly reflective visual signifiers of the cultural context in that era. The movies that stand out in this category include Cecil B Demille’s 1934 version of Cleopatra, which stars Claudette Colbert, and the 20th Century Fox Production of Cleopatra in 1963, starring Elizabeth Taylor. These movies give us a glimpse of the life of the great Cleopatra up to the time of her demise.

Cleopatra According to History

Many movies capture the allure of her extravagant lifestyle and epic romances but regrettably overlook her true attributes as a formidable, intelligent, and courageous Egyptian leader. Cleopatra is historically known as one of Egypt’s most remarkable and influential rulers. Her leadership skills and strategic brilliance played an important role in navigating the complex political landscape of the time. 

As a shrewd diplomat, Cleopatra forged alliances with powerful leaders and secured the prosperity and stability of her kingdom. Additionally, she was a proficient linguist, fluent in multiple languages, and possessed a great understanding of economics and governance, which made her an exceptional leader by any standards.

Cleopatra in Modern Game Depictions

The life of Cleopatra has always been an inspiration from generation to generation as more people continue to study her life. In modern game depictions, her story finds new life through captivating casino games. The Cleopatra slot game, popularly themed “A Night with Cleo,” has become a standout among online casino game enthusiasts.

This adult-themed game offers an immersive experience, complete with enticing bonuses, a high Return to Player (RTP) rate, and a host of cheeky features that add to the thrill of gameplay. With its engaging storyline and alluring graphics, players are transported to ancient Egypt, where they can indulge in the allure of Cleopatra’s world while trying their luck to win enticing rewards. 

Cleopatra According to the Movies

While comparing the 1934 and 1963 movies, you cannot ignore how they describe Cleopatra. Both films depict Cleopatra as a white Anglo-American through their lead actresses, Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor. These actors wear a broad range of exotic outfits and live in a world of luxury to depict the ancient queen’s extravagant lifestyle.

Cleopatra Lead Actors in 1934 and 1963 Films

Let us now look into the captivating performances of the lead actresses in these two iconic Cleopatra films and see how they portrayed the legendary Egyptian queen.

Claudette Colbert – 1934

In 1934, Colbert made appearances in Cleopatra, and It Happened One Night. These films enabled her to make waves in the entertainment scene that year. Colbert was hailed for her exceptional acting prowess as she skilfully embodied the historical figure of Cleopatra with grace and authenticity.

To secure the lead position as Cleopatra, she needed to have the looks of Cleopatra and an excellent voice for the movies. Although many actors didn’t make it due to poor oration voices that didn’t match their screen appearance, Colbert had both. This portrayed her as a strong personality fit for Cecil B. DeMille’s Production. 

Even though this movie was shot in black and white, it competes favorably with modern epic films. Colbert effectively depicts a strong national leader from the start to the end of the movie.

Elizabeth Taylor – 1963

Elizabeth Taylor is probably the most renowned actress to grace the role of Cleopatra on films. In this film, she flawlessly embodied the essence of the iconic Egyptian queen and captivated audiences with her mesmerizing beauty, charisma, and commanding presence. Her performance went deep into the complex layers of Cleopatra’s character by portraying her as not only a master manipulator but also a skilled political figure who navigates treacherous waters with unmatched sophistication. 

However, the 1963 film encountered its fair share of production challenges as its budget was greatly inflated to over 44 million dollars from the 2 million that had initially been planned. This increase was mainly attributed to the cost of creating the sets and paying salaries for actors. Fortunately, the film recouped its investment and went on to get 9 Academy Awards nominations. 

Taylor’s portrayal of Cleopatra exudes a captivating aura of power and manipulation, and her on-set romance with Richard Burton added an alluring dynamic to the film. This performance rivals Colbert’s depiction and has made this film perform incredibly well to date.

Final Thoughts

Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor did a great job playing the role of Cleopatra in the 1934 and 1963 movies. Some claim that Colbert, rather than the bloated 1963 version, is the revered queen of the Nile in cinemas because the 1934 film’s account of Cleopatra’s life and love is revealed in 105 minutes as opposed to the 1963 version’s 4 hours and 20 minutes. The Art Deco aesthetic of the 1934 movie, which was inspired by images of Ancient Egypt, was also centered on details. Despite such arguments, both movies and respective actresses are still celebrated to date for the incredible depiction of one of Egypt’s greatest queens.

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