Cleopatra (1963) - Rotten Tomatoes


Cleopatra (1963)



Critic Consensus: Cleopatra is a lush, ostentatious, endlessly eye-popping epic that sags collapses from a (and how could it not?) four-hour runtime.

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In 1963, this colossal and opulent $60 million spectacular was epic in every sense of the word -- an epic investment, an epic in the annals of Hollywood gossip, and, ultimately, an epic flop that nearly dragged 20th Century Fox down the Nile along with Cleopatra's barge. Handsomely mounted by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who replaced Rouben Mamoulian as director after six days of shooting), the drama follows the eighteen tumultuous years that led to the founding of the Roman Empire. Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) meets up with Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and plans to lure Caesar to her boudoir in order to forge an alliance with Rome so that she may hold on to her Egyptian empire. When Caesar is stabbed to death in the Roman Senate, Cleopatra is left without an ally, and Egypt is up for grabs. When Roman general Mark Antony (Richard Burton) comes along, she seduces him in order to make him over into her new protector. But, under the charms of Cleopatra, Mark Antony is reduced from a an awesome and dominating general to a sniveling, drunken wimp. At the Battle of Actium, Mark Antony is defeated and Cleopatra withdraws her troops, dooming Mark Antony and his army. With Egypt in peril, Antony and Cleopatra, the doomed lovers, meet each other for the last time, as the enemy forces close in. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

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Richard Burton
as Mark Antony
Rex Harrison
as Julius Caesar
Roddy McDowall
as Octavian Caesar Augustus, Octavian/Caesar Augustus
Pamela Brown
as High Priestess
George Cole
as Flavius
Hume Cronyn
as Sosigenes
Cesare Danova
as Apollodorus
Andrew Keir
as Agrippa
Robert Stephens
as Germanicus
Herbert Berghof
as Theodotus
John Cairney
as Phoebus
Isabel Cooley
as Charmian
John Doucette
as Achillas
Andrew Faulds
as Canidius
John Hoyt
as Cassius
Marne Maitland
as Euphranor
Gwen Watford
as Calpumia
Marina Berti
as Queen at Tarsus
John Karlsen
as High priest
Loris Loddi
as Caesarion (age 4)
Jean Marsh
as Octavia
Gin Mart
as Marcellus
Furio Meniconi
as Mithridates
Kenneth Nash
as Caesarion (age 12)
Del Russell
as Caesarion (age 7)
John Valva
as Valvus
John Alderton
as 1st Officer, Officer #1
Peter Forster
as Officer #2, 2nd Officer
Laurence Naismith
as Archesilaus
Marie Devereux
as Bacchanal Reveler
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Critic Reviews for Cleopatra

All Critics (40) | Top Critics (13)

As the sets seem to grow bigger and bigger, so progressively the players dwindle.

February 10, 2020 | Full Review…

Taylor inhabits the role with a focussed but uninhibited imperiousness, as when she turns Cleopatra's entrance into Rome, aboard a giant rolling sphinx, into the ultimate red-carpet photo op.

October 6, 2014 | Full Review…

A stately but sometimes mindboggling spectacle.

July 11, 2013 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Melodramatic, and camp as Christmas, but nothing like the disaster its reputation suggests.

July 11, 2013 | Rating: 3/5

It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for good and ill.

July 9, 2013 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Sad to say, however, the deep-revolving, witty Mankiewicz fails most where most he hoped to succeed. As drama and as cinema, Cleopatra is raddled with flaws. It lacks style both in image and in action.

March 23, 2011 | Full Review…
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Audience Reviews for Cleopatra


Classic epic film from director Joseph L. Mankiewicz , Cleopatra upon its release was an ambitious film with a larger than life production. This is not a perfect film, but is one that boasts a well layered story, matched by some strong performances by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. What is very impressive with the film of course, the set designs, costumes and sheer scope of the film. Cleopatra is a richly detailed picture that is bold in its vision, and the performances match the look of the film. The most common complaint of the film is that, it's very long, and that it may be a hard film to get into because of it. Cleopatra has a terrific story and is aided by a broad cast of talented actors. However I also felt that compared to other epics of this style such as Ben-Hur, Cleopatra tries to be far too ambitious than it needed to be. In doing, the film becomes tedious; however the performances should keep you involved. The film is very long, like I've stated earlier, and I think the film could have been shortened a bit as well and if it would have been simply a 3 hour film instead of a nearly 4 hour film, then maybe this film would really have been something. Cleopatra is a very good film that is well acted, directed and paced, but it's also ambitious in its scope, and it's a picture that suffers more from its length than anything else. Despite this, Cleopatra is a big film, and tells a great story, if only the filmmakers would have trimmed an hour or so from the film, then Cleopatra would have truly been something to watch. However, despite its flaws, the sheer grandeur of the film can't be ignored and everything from the performances to the look of the film of the film is truly great and unique. If you enjoy big epics, Cleopatra is one that you should watch, but be warned this is nearly four hours in length. I enjoyed the film and thought it was a very well crafted film, and in terms of epic filmmaking, Cleopatra is certainly one of the largest film productions that I have seen. With a good story, this is a must watch, but due to its length it's not worth revisiting again and again.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

Strange now as the film was eclipsed by the love affair it started, so that one now views: 1) the story of Antony and Cleopatra, a real life tragedy for the ages, 2) the Hollywood film to that effect, a tragedy all by itself, and then 3), the two souls playing the leads, Taylor and Burton, who would go on to nearly live what first they merely played at doing, or tried to live it, or something. They recite lines to each other that they couldn't know was their future and yet we now know as true ... chilling. Opulent to the extreme, a pompous film, bullying, and finally ... perhaps more than merely memorable, a tragedy.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Oh wow, this movie was really, really long. About 4+ hours long. But the costumes were beautiful, Elizabeth was beautiful and the story was very romantic, in a let me gain power kind of way and a bit Romeo and Juliet. Rex Harrison is just too English, I love him, but he did not make a good Caesar. Everyone should see this classic.. at least once.

Alexis Nomm
Alexis Nomm

Super Reviewer

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