Cleopatra, by Cecil B. de Mille, Cleopatra, by Joseph L. Mankiewcs, and Cleopatra Jones, by Jack Starrett

Cleopatra, by Cecil B. de Mille, Cleopatra, by Joseph L. Mankiewcs, and Cleopatra Jones, by Jack Starrett

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Feminine sexuality and power has been a controversial topic since the dawn of time. In many ancient societies, females exist as the lesser beings. They were meant only to bear children, and to stay loyal to their husband. Cleopatra VI became one of the first prominent females to exert her power. She reigned as queen of the entire Egyptian kingdom and bowed to no one. Cleopatra used her beauty to get what she wanted and needed for her country, and by doing this, she conquered some of the most politically important men of the Roman republic. Yet for many years, the life of this formidable queen was left unrecognized. The story of Cleopatra VI came back into intrigue with the production of three films: Cleopatra by Cecil B. de Mille in 1934, Cleopatra by Joesph L. Mankiewicz in 1963, and Cleopatra Jones by Jack Starrett in 1973. Each of these productions represents the historical Cleopatra in modern glory and power. They meant to appeal to both men and women; to the woman’s want and need for power in a still male-dominant world, and to the man's lust for an intellectual, and beautiful woman. All three of these films served their purpose accurately; they maintained a close connection to the historical context of Cleopatra, yet successfully attracted their target audience.
Claudette Colbert dazzled audiences as the “girl-next-door” actress of the 1930s and this made her role as Cleopatra that much more appealing. In 1934, women still struggled in the United States to escape their set gender role. A sexually charged and intimidating star may have been too much, too soon for the multitudes of this time; Colbert was perfect for the role. “Colbert offered a model of all that was 'tasteful and attractive' in contemporary female sexualit...


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...in a time where women were subjugated to a lesser status, yet still became one of the most powerful women to ever live. She harnessed this power through a cunning use of her sexuality, and this brought a whole new idea to the American society. Women could view this power, and take it as their own. This is what made the whole concept of Cleopatra as a film successful. It allowed people to connect with the queen, and be inspired by her life and love. Cleopatra of 1934 and 1963 appealed to the general Caucasian audience, while Cleopatra Jones was derived for the African American culture. The interest in the legend of Cleopatra VI renewed due to this trio of films, and is now stronger than ever. Today, Liz Taylor, Claudette Colbert and Tamara Dobson still inspire women and produce a fantasy for men; that is why these films are so important. They lasted through the ages.

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