As one of the most expensive films ever made, it's a chance to indulge in the grandiose decadence of Hollywood's golden age. Unfortunately, it's mostly laughably over-dramatic, and certainly far too long for its own good. Taylor is stunning, though. Even with that massive budget, I can't imagine this film being even moderately entertaining without her.
Enormous production where every dollar is on the screen - Cleopatra's entrance into Rome, her extravagant costumes and boat on the Nile are memorable moments. It is almost hard not to envision any other actress playing Cleopatra other than Elizabeth Taylor it is almost as we believe she is the pure reincarnation of her even if everything about her looks are historically inaccurate.
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."
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.
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.