April 2, 2009
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.
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.