Elizabeth Taylor never looked more ravishing on screen than in Cleopatra, the 1963 epic whose restored four-hour version was shown at Cannes this year and now gets a 50th anniversary cinema re-release and Blu-ray edition. Getting through 65 costume changes in the course of the film, Taylor looks stunning - and so does the film, which cost $44million (equivalent to $330million today), went hopelessly over budget and almost bankrupted studio 20th Century Fox . Admittedly, the drama in between the great set piece scenes is distinctly stodgy, with Taylor's Egyptian queen ensnaring first Rex Harrison's Julius Caesar and then Richard Burton's Marc Anthony in her wiles. But the scenes between Taylor and Burton - who famously and scandalously began their very public affair during the shoot - still give off a spark.
Cleopatra is in cinemas nationwide from Friday 12th July and the 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is currently available from 2oth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.
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