What do the representations of Cleopatra in film and on television (as shown on the DVD Video 'Cleopatra') tell us about how her reputation changed over time? Discuss with reference to two or three representations.
It can be seen through the various representations of Cleopatra, that her image has changed over time. There have been many different portrayals of her in films over the years, but what we really need to understand, is what external influences may have contributed to these portrayals.
Maybe, the greatest defining trait of Cleopatra, is of this domineering 'sexual predator', (Trevor Fear, speaking in DVD Reputations, 'Cleopatra', 2009). However, the popular presumed image of Cleopatra is most likely to be, of the beautiful face of Elizabeth Taylor, set against a flamboyant and extravagant Egyptian backdrop. There were, nonetheless, a few 'Cleopatras' that preceded her and were represented in an entirely different trend.
Take, for example, the 1917 film, where Theda Bara played the title role.
Many directors set out to create an authentic image of Egypt, and by casting Bara in the role, put as much emphasis on the designs around for the 20th century, as they did Ptolemaic culture. (Freeman,2005). Bara was already well known for playing roles, in which she 'sexually manipulated and abandoned married men' (Trevor Fear, speaking in DVD Reputations, 'Cleopatra' 2009), therefore, making her an ideal candidate to play Cleopatra. This first major epic produced on Cleopatra was at a time when the role of women was changing, and those who became powerful were depicted as manipulators and dangerous. (Trevor Fear, speaking in DVD Reputations, 'Cleopatra', 2009) The Theda Bara version of Cleopatra therefore reflected these external contemporary changes and the studio had a free reign in which to exploit this in their representation of her. Theda Bara, therefore,