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Cleopatra [DVD] [1963]

Elizabeth Taylor , Richard Burton , Joseph L. Mankiewicz    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
Price: 3.44 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Cleopatra [DVD] [1963] + Ben-Hur [1959] [DVD] + Spartacus [DVD]
Price For All Three: 11.77

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Product details

  • Actors: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowall, Martin Landau
  • Directors: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 7 Dec 2010
  • Run Time: 248 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004G6TCVC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,625 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Still the most expensive movie ever made, Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox. It also scandalised the world with the very public affair of its two major stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. But Joseph L Mankiewicz's 1963 epic deserves to be remembered for more than its off-screen troubles. An extravagantly elaborate production, the sets and costumes alone are awe-inspiring; Mankiewicz's own literate screenplay draws heavily on the classics and Shakespeare; while the supporting cast, led by Rex Harrison as Caesar and Roddy McDowall as his nephew (and future emperor) Octavian, are all first-rate thespians and generally put in more convincing performances than either of the two leads.

Mankiewicz's original intention was to make two three-hour films: the first being Caesar and Cleopatra, the second Antony and Cleopatra. But before the film’s completion, and following a boardroom coup worthy of Ancient Rome itself, legendary mogul Darryl F Zanuck took back control of Fox and insisted that Cleopatra be cut to a more economical length. A heartbroken Mankiewicz was forced to trim his six-hour vision down to four. This was the "roadshow" version shown at the film’s premiere and now restored here for the first time. Then following adverse criticism and pressure from cinema chains Zanuck demanded more cuts, and the final released version ran a mere three hours--half the original length.

Capitalising on the feverish publicity surrounding Burton and Taylor, the shortened version played up both their on- and off-screen romance. This longer four-hour roadshow version allows for a broader view of the film, adding some depth to the politics and manipulation of the characters. But the director’s original six-hour edit has been lost. Perhaps one day it will be rediscovered in the vaults and Mankiewicz’s much-maligned movie will finally be seen the way it was meant to be. Until then, Cleopatra remains an epic curiosity rather than the complete spectacle it should be.

On the DVD: this handsome three-disc set spreads the restored four-hour print of the movie across two discs. The anamorphic widescreen print looks quite magnificent and Alex North’s wondrous score comes up like new in Dolby 5.1 sound. There’s a patchy and only intermittently revealing commentary from Chris Mankiewicz, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau and Jack Brodsky. Much better is the comprehensive two-hour documentary that occupies disc three, which tells in hair-raising detail the extraordinary story of a film production that became totally out of control. This is accompanied by some short archival material, but the documentary alone is a compelling reason to acquire this set. --Mark Walker

Product Description

The legendary story of the Queen of the Nile and her conquest of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical epic or simple love story? 29 Mar 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film was derided by the critics as overblown, too expensive to produce and a relative failure. It is however a film that has lodged itself in our collective memories as one of the best purely entertaining films ever made.
Watching it on the theatre screen one is almost overwhelmed by the great set piece scenes of excessive splendour and the battle at sea (Actium). Watching at home the impact of these scenes is somewhat diminished and one is able to concentrate more on the private scenes between Cleopatra and Mark Anthony, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I am not sure whether they were married at the time or between marriages but the crackling atmosphere created between them makes the hairs stand up at times.
The sets were wonderful, the colour resplendent and the dialogue intelligent, a class above some of the epics of the same period.
This is one of those films every movie buff should have in their collection as it will bear repeated viewings. There is something new to notice every time it is watched.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLU RAY - A VISUAL FEAST 7 Feb 2012
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the story and probably the film .
if not GOOGLE away , i'm not going to talk about the film in that respect other than to say it has some great actors and some good scenes with a decent script and the most amazing sets and wardrobe to ever grace a camera lens.
LETS TALK BLU-RAY .... 1080p .... 2 BD50 dual layer discs
aspect is 2.20:1 and sound is DTS 5.1
this appears to be the 4 hr version previously released as a special on 3 dvds .
the picture transfer is amazing considering the film is nearly 40 years old . the sets and costumes really shine through . colours are vibrant and detail is good , cloth textures are notable and jewellery shines and glitters . Taylors trachyoptomy scar is visible in most scenes and every hair , mole and wrinkle is visible even through the heavy make-up .. the sets are so colourfull and detailed i was often looking more at the scenery and clothing than the actors . it was like watching a new film .
the sound is mostly stereo and works well . the surround sound is very subtle and used during the more exciting scenes . for those with decent sound systems the depth and spacial imaging of sounds and effects are noticibly better than the dvd . the voices however are clear but at loud moments (shouting) the sound can be harsh and slightly distorted .( more to do with the recording at the time than the processing for the bluray). the orchestra seems to have been processed , it is clear and rich in sound and uses all channels of the 5.1 surround.
highly recommend this blu ray .. only Bladerunner impresses me more as a bluray title . although i have yet to purchase Lord of the Rings.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Blu Ray 30 Jan 2012
One of my favorite films. I've been watching this movie since i was a kid and must have seen it a hundred times, but never like this. A Stunning transfer on to blu ray, It's sharp and crisp, the colours are stunning as technicolor should be, its like watching the film for the first time again. You can see so much detail, things you may not of noticed in previous cinema/dvd/video screenings, so much going on in the back ground that I never took note of before. You can see the intricate detail of the costumes and how well the sets look, even the painted backdrops stand out now, and it finally does justice to how beautiful Elizabeth Taylor looks.
Most of the extras are the same as the last DVD release, though there is quite an interesting new Fox Legacy documentary. Nice packaging and outer sleeve with new art work on cover. A booklet would have been nice for the 50th anniversary edition, but all you get is the 2 discs.
Well worth the price for the picture quality alone.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DVD Print Quality Simply Outstanding 17 Nov 2005
By father2
For a film that is now more than forty years old this DVD is simply outstanding. The film itself is contained on two DVDs and the extra features can be found on the third DVD. But if you view the film you will feel that this has just been produced, such is the quality. Sure the special effects are not there, so obvious in modern films like the 2004 epic Troy, but everything is done on a grand scale. The film remains the most expensive film ever made and you can understand why. Whereas today many of the grand sets would be done on computers, 20th Century Fox had to produce everything as a real set. So when you see Cleopatra's grand entrance to Rome this is the real deal, not pixels. The colours are vivid, the sound very powerful and the acting of the two main stars - Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - is highly charged. Impressive historical entertainment.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 2 Disc edition is from a very bad print. Avoid. 6 April 2011
By Julian Hughes TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I bought the 2 Disc edition because Cleopatra (Special Edition) [DVD] [1963] was unavailable at the time. This 2 Disc edition is most definitely not from a restored print, or even a good quality print. It looks *horrible*. The picture ranges from soft and smeared through very noisy to pebble dashed. The less noisy parts are terribly soft and smeared, with a cartoonish lack of texture,resolution and detail. The colours are somewhat faded. Sometimes there are horrible edge artefacts where outlines have a ghost outline (or did they have Ready Brek in ancient Egypt?). I've seen some of the restored edition and it looks superb. This two disc edition stinks, as does the fact that Amazon's description and praise of the picture quality is misleading because it refers to a completely different and better edition. I'll be asking for a refund on the basis of that misdescription. If you want to enjoy this film then spend the extra on the restored edition and avoid this 2 disc set.

edit: I now have the three disc special edition and it is the same edition after all. I have no idea how the amazon reviewer had the gall to write "this handsome three-disc set spreads the restored four-hour print of the movie across two discs. The anamorphic widescreen print looks quite magnificent..." This is simply untrue. I can only believe it is not an honest review but simply a regurgitation of the studio press release. The picture looks *horrible* and is clearly and obviously not any kind of restoration but in fact just a patchwork of cuts from different prints, each with their own problems with some of those being severe, well below the quality of even a decent VHS tape.
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