Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Queen of the Nile

On Sunday afternoon I had a date with one of my tiny boyfriends. They're both around 18 months old and I've begun seeing Max quite regularly - every Tuesday night in fact, which is helping greatly with my Winter of Frugality - although he's either already asleep or on his way to bed by the time I get there. I don't see my other tiny boyfriend, George, as often, but on Sunday I got to hang out with him properly - by which I mean, he was awake. We went to the park and then I took him for a long walk in his pushchair down to the sea to watch the planes and the seagulls. He is excellent company.

On Sunday evening we had classic movie Sunday. In honour of the recent passing of Elizabeth Taylor, we watched the 1963 version of Cleopatra. I've said it before about classic movies and I'll say it again: some of them are SO long. This one clocked in at four hours and five minutes. That's even longer than Gone with the Wind. Apparently the original cut of Cleopatra was six hours long, but thankfully the studio producing the film made the director edit it down.

While it was interesting to learn about Cleopatra and some of the figures in Roman history (although also slightly worrying as we did some scenes from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra in fourth form and I did Classics in seventh form, so I should have already known some of the stuff in the movie), the thing that kept me going was Elizabeth Taylor and her outfits. She seemed to have a new one in every scene and all of them were amazing. Although some of her headpieces were a bit too much like ornate shower caps.

Richard Burton didn't really do it for me, I much preferred Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar. And although apparently Elizabeth Taylor recieved criticism for her performance, I thought she was great. She was very beautiful and very ample bosom if ever I've seen one.

The sheer scale of the film was pretty impressive, all the sets and locations, the extras and horses and battlescenes. I think my favourite scene of all was Cleopatra's entrance into Rome - it just kept going and going, with more and more dancers and floats and coloured smoke. It was like Cleopatra was bringing the Mardi Gras to Rome and the Romans LOVED it.

Towards the end though we were hanging out for that asp. And ever since I've had the first line of this speech by Shakespeare stuck in my head:

The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne,
Burned on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumèd, that
The winds were lovesick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggared all description: she did lie
In her pavilion, cloth-of-gold of tissue,
O’erpicturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature. On each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-coloured fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did.

Antony and Cleopatra, II.2

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