the 30s "cleopatra" is cecil b. demille's epic piece as well as claudette colbert's ultimate height of shimmering glamour in lavish period costumes by the 30s fashion genius travis banton.
the triangle between cleopatra, caesar and marc antony is grandeurly reputed and celebrated with the rosiness of feministic romance to the seductress blessed with beauty, intelligence, wealth and supreme power, wholeheartedly in love with elite studs. it's simply too surreally divine to befall on earth.
compared with the 60s cleopatra made with elizabeth taylor, demile's aware of the art of conciseness, and his cuts of cleopatra's affair with caesar is transient but sharp to the crucial point: caesar doesn't love cleopatra but infatuated with the inquisiton of her gold as well as the deliciously prosperous egypt.
then the scenery shifts to the romance with marc antony who contempts love and deems women as the play things of the warriors that makes it tastefully witty to witness how cleopatra conquers the steel-hearted antony by disarming him level by level with sly humor. and the showcast of those egyptian vaudevilles are tour de farce which could only be presented by demille's wheeling camera, such as the she-leopard circular flame-diving sequence. and henry wilcoxon as antony delivers enough virility to dignify this grandly masculine man melted by the lure of a siren. the scene he reacts to roman's defying duel with reckless bravado to fight with his last breath is the exemplification of primitive manhood while cleopatra kneels beside him to surrender as a woman in love, a conquest of his enormous machoness then she nullifies the fickle scheme to poison him into death.
the prestigious suicide to declare cleopatra's sacred love is written with mighty aloofness "be careful when you seek love, if you cannot find love, don't give a thing...if you're rich as cleopatra, give everything!"...then the camera looms over her statuesque dead posture as she demises by the snake bite, permeated with her egoistically lofty pride which prevents her from consdescending at last moment, even defeated by backfires.