Cecil B. DeMille’s Cleopatra makes its Blu-ray debut in September

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Before the Taylor/Burton production, there was an equally notorious film about the randy Egyptian

It was a pre-code film that sneaked onto screens just as the censorious Hays Office began cracking down on Hollywood's racier productions. Cleopatra is a libertine paean to decadence and depravity that can still send a viewer's mind reeling and pulse thumping – all courtesy of the Golden Age's swampiest psychosexual auteur, Cecil B. DeMille (The Ten Commandments; The Greatest Show on Earth; The King of Kings).

Claudette Colbert (It Happened One Night; The Palm Beach Story; Drums Along the Mohawk) presides over the most outrageous spectacle this side of The Scarlet Empress as the eponymous pharaoh queen who speeds from Julius Caesar (Warren William) to Marc Antony (Henry Wilcoxon), from Egypt to Rome, from war-room to bedroom. The whiff of incense permeates every scene, with each connected to the next in a veritable matrix of whips, blindfolds, and bindings –*the crazed arrangement laying bare all the fetish inklings of the moving-picture dream.

Lavishly produced with some of the most inspired waxing-moon photography and unwholesome set-design to come out of the studio system, DeMille's film is an erotic tour-de-force that obliges us to re-examine the appeal of this most popular of Hollywood directors. The erotic content and nudity caused a stir at the time of its original 1934 release and it was later remade by Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1963 in a version starring Elizabeth Taylor. The story of Cleopatra will soon grace our screens again in a remake directed by David Fincher (The Social Network; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Fight Club; Se7en) and starring Angelina Jolie.


The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Cleopatra for the very first time on Blu-ray, in a Dual Format (Blu-ray + DVD) edition, released in the UK on 24 September 2012. Also available as a limited edition Dual Format SteelBook and DVD edition.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Gorgeous HD transfer of the film officially licensed from Universal and presented in its original aspect ratio, in 1080p on the Blu-ray
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Lavish booklet featuring the words of Cecil B. DeMille, rare archival imagery, and more
  • More features to be announced closer to release date!
 
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