Fascinating, a larger than life production chock full of extravagant costumes and setpieces. However bad the acting, the pacing of the story or whatever other faults are to be found, the final result is still an entertaining watch. Of course the story behind the making of the film has become legendary and once you witness the madness of this giant undertaking, you will see why. Recommend the gorgeous blu-ray edition!
Watched it to add some je ne sais quoi to my reading of Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra biography, and it did the job -- I'm not sure what the hell it added, and that's a fact. Schiff's masterful politician is nowhere to be found in ET's petulant siren. One only hopes that events as they transpired in historical Alexandria were less dreary than these turgid simulations so expensively projected by Mankiewicz and company.
I feel that Elizabeth Taylor said everything I was trying to put into words about this movie, so I'll just quote her: "They had cut out the heart, the essence, the motivations, the very core, and tacked on all those battle scenes. It should have been about three large people, but it lacked reality and passion. I found it vulgar."
A stately plod through setup after setup with little historical insight or dramatic tension to spice up four hours of wooden Hollywood dressing-up box history. A triumph of costume and set design, but flicking through a catalogue would be so much quicker.
I was lucky to experience this during a 70 mm festival and the print was glorious. But holy Toledo what a bloated, lumbering elephant of a film. The second half with Antony definitely surpasses the first in terms of watchability but by that point the opulence and political machinations have already become tiresome. Love the story behind it. Glad I saw it. Never again.