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Cleopatra (1963)



Average Rating: 5.3/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 20,175

My Rating

Movie Info

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

Apr 3, 2001

20th Century Fox

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Latest News on Cleopatra

January 10, 2013:
Ang Lee Interested in Angelina Jolie's Cleopatra
"It just feels right to me after all the other types of films I've done."
August 23, 2012:
David Fincher No Longer Attached to Cleopatra
Someone else will have to direct Angelina Jolie in the long-gestating epic.


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All Critics (28) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (15) | DVD (30)

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

July 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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 Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[A] general muddle.

May 5, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Cleopatra is not only a supercolossal eye-filler (the unprecedented budget shows in the physical opulence throughout), but it is also a remarkably literate cinematic recreation of an historic epoch.

September 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Harrison, doing his waspish don act as Caesar, alone rises above mediocrity.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is a surpassing entertainment, one of the great epic films of our day.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film has a spectacular variety of liabilities (and, to be fair, strengths as well), but the most visible and crushing is that's an utter dud as a star vehicle.

August 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

A lumbering monstrosity of a movie with all manner of preposterous hairstyles and improbable fashions. Worth seeing -- once anyway -- at least as wayward legend.

February 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Though it owes as much to Shakespeare's interpretation and to Roman propaganda as to the historical record, this interpretation of the great queen's life succeeds in conveying something of the intelligence and force of personality her opponents feared.

August 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

The film at least manages to make some sense of an extraordinary moment in history, as Rome expanded from republic to empire.

July 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

A stately but sometimes mindboggling spectacle.

July 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian

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

July 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Much maligned for various reasons, this Cleopatra may be the most expensive movie ever made, but certainly not the worst, just a verbose, muddled affair that is not even entertaining as a star vehicle for Taylor and Burton.

March 19, 2009 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

For four hours this moody, glossy pantomime leadenly plods on, saying much more about the hubris and excess of old-time Hollywood thinking than the burnished glories of an ancient world.

May 5, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A giant of a movie that is sometimes lumbering, but ever watchable thanks to its uninhibited ambition, size and glamour.

May 5, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

This is not a film -- it's a deal, decorated with extensive publicity, but weighed down by listless direction and lots of nasal talk, talk, talk.

May 5, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Taylor, Burton, and Harrison are sublime in this sweeping epic of love and nations.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

The movie is also dotted with some battle sequences of nearly epic proportions, but they can't make up for Cleopatra's shortcomings in plot and acting.

January 20, 2003 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Better than I thought it would be.

August 9, 2002
Fantastica Daily

opulent and empty, it dares you not to take a nap

July 29, 2002
Kalamazoo Gazette

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.
April 21, 2014
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

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.
June 10, 2011

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.
May 13, 2011

Super Reviewer

Project 3 (epic films)

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and staring Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowall and Martin Landau

Impressive yes and some major looking sets as well as people, but this is a great and worst project and I didn't really like the film. Sure it set some records being the film with the biggest budget at the time but the movie is just dull or maybe that's just me.

The story of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt who wants to stabilize her power by using the tensions in the Roman Empire. Caesar visits Egypt, has an affair with her, and returns to Rome. She bears his child and visits Rome to claim her place at Caesar's side. He is murdered before this can happen. She returns to Egypt leaving Rome in turmoil. Mark Antony follows her to Egypt and they fall in love. However, Octavian defeats Anthony in battle.

50% for story: it's grand indeed but it's just to length and complex.

50% for acting: I find it funny that it got Oscars but to me the acting was just average and from our lead female it was terrible.

70% for characters: I like Cleopatra and she has a whole story on it and as for the others there good as well.

80% for special effects: I Admit everything is a on a grand scale but that's about the only thing I truly liked.

50% for everything else: Good costumes, Angles, Bad music, and scenery.

I rather like the pornographic flick Caligula only because that film has some reason behind it were this just fails.

Keiko's score 51-100
January 19, 2011
Keiko A. --Samurai--
Keiko Aya

Super Reviewer

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