April 2, 2009

In dire times, Cleopatra dresses up - here after the battle of Actium

In dire times, Cleopatra dresses up - here after the battle of Actium

One of the joys of working in a creative field is that you can justify pretty much every vain activity by saying “it’s for work”.

Take British Vogue. Thanks to my job, I manage to justify the staggering expense (Rs 600, nearly 10€). And the fact that I read it, lying on my bed, at 3pm on a weekday.

That’s wicked.

Last night, I watched Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra. For work.

For once, as much as I enjoyed it, it was also truly inspiring workwise. Cleopatra’s jewellery, and for that matters, her clothes, are breathtaking.

They are timeless. The black dress she wears to escape Rome after Caesar is killed could be Azzaro, or Cavalli. Because my dear, Cleopatra always looks fabulous, even when her lover, Risk teammate and father of her son is murdered. She is the queen of Egypt, you see.

Even her servants outfits could be on this year’s catwalks. White pleated dresses, gold braids, flowy chiffons. Every single piece of clothing in this movie, I want. The mango yellow dress and grey veil, the dramatic black, white and red outfit she wears in Rome, the leopard trimmed coat at the battle of Actium…

There are times when she goes a little Medusa-goes-raving and you get a scary glimpse of what Liz Taylor looks like now, 45 years later. She puts these things on her head and wears these glittery nighties, oh dear, not so chic. But that’s also when things start going down the drain with Antony, so I guess it makes sense.

The jewellery is fabulous. Snake cuffs, scarab necklaces, dangling earrings. And Caesar’s necklace : made of gold coins, huge, with dangling gems, it drives poor Marc Antony crazy.

Richard Burton is extraordinary and the on-screen chemistry between him and Liz Taylor, simply mesmerizing. However, his character is highly irritating. Antony is always drunk, or with a glass in hand. His political skills are pathetic and he keeps making a fool of himself. At Actium, he doesn’t listen to the sound advice of his generals and sends his malaria-struck, sea-sick legions straight into Octavian’s lighter, but better organized vessels.

What the hell does she see in him? I wondered, munching on pistachios.

Then comes this unforgettable, utterly delicious scene where Cleopatra, in full regal attire, her scepters held crossed over her chest, orders Marc Antony to kneel.

“I asked it of Julius Caesar, I demand it of Marc Antony.

Ouch. He is humiliated, furious and fuming. And he wants her really, really bad.

I love my job.


7 Responses to “Cleopatra”

  1. Sunny Side Says:

    Génial ! It’s so hilarious ! It’s one of the best … help where is my dictionnary … the best comment I have read on Cleopatra. Ready for New Yorker ? You should send it to Café Mode. May I leave your link on her website ? She loves to analyze dresses and costumes in a movie and yours is really top top top !!!

  2. YVR Says:

    So do you do both the gem selection and design? cool.

    @Sunny: oh yeah! Cafe Mode always does these reviews of movies/costumes.

  3. jasmineandtheelephants Says:

    @ Sunny Side: Thank you so much! Of course send it to Geraldine, I love her “Films bien sapes” too. New Yorker, pheew, Sunny Side, my ego inflates with you!

    @ YVR: Yes I do both!

  4. Sunny Side Says:

    I did it right now !

  5. jasmineandtheelephants Says:

    You are so sweeeeeet!

  6. ganette Says:

    Oh ! I can’t wait to read your posts about ” Les X commandements”, “Le dernier empereur de Chine”, “Les maitres du pain”, “Emilie la passion d’une vie”. For work. Of course.

  7. jasmineandtheelephants Says:

    ha ha ha
    on sait jamais – mais Emilie elle etait pas tres bijoux si je me souviens bien alors ARRETE DE RACONTER N’IMP

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