ASSIGNMENT 02 NEW DRAFT.
WHAT DO THE REPRESENTATIONS OF CLEOPATRA IN FILM AND ON TELEVISION TELL
US ABOUT HOW HER REPUTATION CHANGED OVER TIME
Cleopatra has been portrayed historically and in T.V. and films as sexually alluring with
wealth,power and extravagance.The earliest incarnation in 1917 showed Cleopatra as
powerful and smouldering,in an era where women weren??™t allowed to vote,her sexuality was used
as a threat putting fear into people??™s attitudes towards sex, and women??™s lib seen as a bad thing by
men in positions of power.The actress who played her,Theda Bara,was dubbed by the press as
???the torpedo of domesticity???(Cleopatra,1917 in ???Cleopatra??™ 2008).
using the image to portray Her as ???the immaculate conflation of sex and evil in an era
governed by rigid moral codes and spiritual and social behaviour???.(Wikipedia – 2013)
As we move forward a few years to 1934,Cleopatra is portrayed as a casually unconcerned,
smiling,complex and refined individual.Despite there being an Act passed in 1930 –
The Production Code – which banned the wearing of revealing outfits and also demanded that the
film should actively promote domestic conventions of marriage.Women in power were depicted as
sexual manipulators and becoming more liberal.
In 1963 We see Cleopatra as more extravagant,lavish and exotic.She appears more proud
and domineering and having vast wealth.She is also seen as having intelligence,which in the film,
???were she not a woman,one would consider her to be an intellectual???(Cleopatra,1963 in ??™Cleopatra
2008??™) quoted by a man as if to say that women were seen as second class citizen??™s.
She is portrayed as being more sexualized,yet more intelligent and political as women were seen
as less dangerous when in power as by that time they had been voting for 43 years.
However if we now focus on modern day interpretations,we can see a massive change in
attitudes not only towards sex but ethnicities too.Past versions of Cleopatra have been
played by Anglo – American actors,but todays audiences accept and expect more
honesty in the portrayal of ethnic characters.Cleopatra is seen as an equal and more sexually
pro-active which in today??™s society is less of a bad thing but can also be seen as a reduction in Her
status.She is seen as more aggressive and controlling,her sexuality ???hand in hand with Her
physical ability to kill a man???(Cleopatra???) (2008) (AA100 DVD Video) Milton Keynes,The Open
University,making her more appealing to audiences – ???sex sells|???.
Despite her power and status,Cleopatra is still reduced to an object of fantasy and lust in each
of the portrayals.the first film projecting her sexuality as threatening and warning of the openness
of women with such regard.All portrayals tend to be aimed at the enjoyment of men and become
more sexual with each incarnation and,although the sexuality is presented as less of a bad thing
it is however used to reduce her status by harming her reputation.
Film and T.V. have portrayed Cleopatra in the same way and this has had a massive impact over
the last 2000 years of how society views her.
Cleopatra 1917 in ???Cleopatra??? 2008.
Cleopatra 1963 in ???Cleopatra??? 2008
???Cleopatra??? (2008) (AA100 DVD Video) Milton Keynes,The Open University
Wikipedia – 2013