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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cleopatra [Blu-ray]


(Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963)


Also available in Digibook Form:



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (as Producers Pictures Corporation)

Video: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:56:56.843  + 2:14:11.209

Disc One: 41,151,762,738 bytes

Disc Two: 46,653,439,167 bytes

Feature Size (Disc one): 33,067,149,312 bytes

Feature Size (Disc two): 38,278,800,384 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.96 Mbps

Chapters: 25 + 28

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 28th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 2.21:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3699 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3699 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 4.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps



English (SDH), English, Spanish, French, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish, Hebrew, Icelandic, Chinese, none



Disc 1

● Commentary with Chris Mankiewicz, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau and Jack Brodsky
● Cleopatra Through The Ages: A Cultural History (7:51)
● Cleopatra’s Missing Footage (8:12)
● Fox Movie Channel presents Fox Legacy with Tom Rothman (29:30)
● The Cleopatra Papers: A Private Correspondence

Disc 2

● Commentary with Chris Mankieqicz, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau and Jack Brodsky
● Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood (1:59:07)
● The Fourth Star of Cleopatra (9:06)
● Fox Movietone News (6:19 in total)
○ Archival Footage of the New York Premiere
○ Archival Footage of the Hollywood Premiere
● Theatrical Trailers (10:03)



(Disc 1 TOP , Disc 2 BOTTOM)


Description: In honor of the iconic film’s 50th anniversary, the 243-minute premiere version of CLEOPATRA has been meticulously restored and presented on Blu-ray for a stunning high definition in-home viewing experience. Artfully packaged with a full-color book featuring rare images from the making of the film, the 2-disc Blu-ray edition is packed with dazzling bonus materials featuring never-before-seen exclusive content including Cleopatra’s lost footage, commentary from Chris Mankiewicz, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau and Jack Brodsky, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more. Additionally, fans can watch footage from the film’s original theatrical premieres in both New York and Los Angeles.

To kick-off a global celebration commemorating the film and its special edition Blu-ray release, Richard Burton will receive a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, Friday, March 1. Burton’s star will be placed next to Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s, honoring one of the most famous theatrical relationships and greatest love stories in history. The campaign for Burton’s star was spearheaded by the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama to celebrate the actor’s heritage.

Directed by Academy Award winner Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the historical epic shot on 70mm film was the highest grossing film of 1963, bringing in more than $24 million in its initial release. The film cost an unprecedented $42 million to make (equivalent to over $300 million today) and nearly bankrupted Twentieth Century Fox. In addition to elaborate sets and costumes, production delays and the relocation of principal filming from London to Rome added to the skyrocketing budget. A very public love affair between Taylor and Burton that blossomed during the three-year production meant that there was as much romance and intrigue off-screen as on-screen. The film later won four Academy Awards, and was nominated for five more, including Best Picture.*

The opulence and grandeur of this epic spectacle has never been more glorious, as it comes to Blu-ray for the very first time. This 2-Disc 50th Anniversary Edition includes a collectible book that provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the making of this legendary film.

Elizabeth Taylor stars as Cleopatra, the glamorous and cunning queen of Egypt. To secure her hold on power, she seduces the rulers of Rome, only to meet her match in Mark Antony, played by Richard Burton. Their passionate romance could decide the fate of the world’s greatest empires.



The Film:

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 (Elizabeth Taylor) meets up with Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and plans to lure Caesar to her boudoir in order to forge an alliance with Rome so that she may hold on to her Egyptian empire. When Caesar is stabbed to death in the Roman Senate, Cleopatra is left without an ally, and Egypt is up for grabs. When Roman general Mark Antony (Richard Burton) comes along, she seduces him in order to make him over into her new protector. But, under the charms of Cleopatra, Mark Antony is reduced from a an awesome and dominating general to a sniveling, drunken wimp. At the Battle of Actium, Mark Antony is defeated and Cleopatra withdraws her troops, dooming Mark Antony and his army. With Egypt in peril, Antony and Cleopatra, the doomed lovers, meet each other for the last time, as the enemy forces close in.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

A mess, as you might expect from the disastrous series of stoppages and personnel changes that dogged production. Mankiewicz does his best with a script worked on by so many writers that it never hits any recognisable tone, but the effect is of acres of dreary spectacle (lacking even DeMille's amusing vulgarity) gradually swamping the cast. Harrison, doing his waspish don act as Caesar, alone rises above mediocrity.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Cleopatra looks ravishing on Blu-ray from Fox.  Colors are vibrant, detail tight and there is even a wonderful touch of grain. The film is divided over two dual-layered Blu-ray discs. The extensive Art direction and the endless sets produce a vivid, highly impressive presentation. Contrast via the 1080P resolution is exceptional. I don't have much more to say than the below screen captures can determine. Brilliant and highly impressive.























Audio :

The lossless DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3699 kbps sounds terrific. The iconic Alex North (The Misfits, Spartacus, Man with the Gun, Viva Zapata!, A Streetcar Named Desire) composed the rich score (Overture, Entr'acte, Exit music interludes included) and it radiates the epic feel of the film. The music is tight, robust and resonant. Effects and dialogue are perfection with no audible flaws anywhere. There are foreign-language DUBs and plenty of subtitle options supporting the 2 discs as being region FREE - playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

Extras match most of the previous 2-disc DVD package from 2006 with a commentary featuring Chris Mankiewicz, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau and Jack Brodsky. There are also a number of video supplements including historical references and production details - the most notable is the 2-hour documentary Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood by Kevin Burns, Brent Zacky - made in 2001 (found on the second Blu-ray disc). There is also the 1/2 hour Fox Legacy video with Tom Rothman and archival footage of the Hollywood and New York Premieres plus 10-minutes of theatrical trailers.



Blu-ray Disc 2



Despite the film being such a long, drawn out dud, one can't help but be impressed with the incredible appearance and spectacle - especially via this pristine Blu-ray. This eye-catching image is great to have on to showcase your system to friends. 50-years old and the a/v remains... mesmerizing. To those enraptured by this gargantuan epic, and even those just keen to view it on their system - this film, along with extensive extras detaling its incredible history, are recommended! 

Gary Tooze

May 24th, 2013

Also available in Digibook Form:


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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