Queen Cleopatra Read Netflix Docudrama Review

Queen Cleopatra: Read Netflix Docudrama Review

In the early 1960s, Fox Studios embarked on its most ambitious project: the Queen Cleopatra biopic, which had a whopping budget of over $300 million (calculated today) and marked the definitive rise of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The film was a resounding failure, nearly bankrupting the company, not winning the awards it expected, and being overshadowed by its protagonists’ reallife relationship. But the picture of Elizabeth Taylor selected for this task as one of the greatest beauty symbols in the world.

In hindsight, Liz Taylor’s casting for the role bothered few people. Some critics have pointed out that the actress is too white to pass for the Queen of Egypt, but at the time the world was used to this kind of entitlement. Furthermore, it wouldn’t be impossible to attribute the film’s failure to things that were also more sensual in nature. Taylor was never particularly remembered for her performance in this feature film, but for the luxury that surrounded her in absolutely every sequence.

Since then, many other actresses have played Cleopatra, always haughty, poised, sensual, and mysterious. However, there is an interesting take on this character on the show Roma, which only aired on HBO for two seasons. The series was daring and told the life of this bloodthirsty society from an extreme perspective, committed to the darkest aspects and without romanticizing the facts. Cleopatra appeared in this series … And there she was always high, disheveled, drunk, planning intrigues and corruption. She was lived by her Lyndsey Marshallan incredible actress who, despite being white, was a far cry from the regal figure that always surrounded her character.

The Egyptian authorities, researchers and historians did not seem to mind. Rome presented his version of Egyptian and convinced without major problems. Now, in 2023, what hasn’t happened according to the trailer that revealed the actress? Adele James should be released as the protagonist, the country joined a chain of outright disapproval of the actress’ choice for the series. Threats came from all sides; It was unacceptable for a black actress to take the position… The controversy fueled the docudrama and now we finally got to see what would become of it Jada Pinkett Smith had prepared for us.

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As mentioned earlier in this text, Cleopatra was heralded as a “docudrama” by the platform; that is, the documentary part would be interspersed with staging. The difference here lies in the depth of these productions. Almost every documentary features staged simulations, but they hide actors in cuts that favor events rather than characters. In a docudrama, the simulations are constructed—or should be constructed—as if they were parts of a current fiction, with dialogue and action visible in the structure. In four episodes, Cleopatra alternates with historians to narrate the Queen’s life, while we see parts of it portrayed with more creative “engagement”.

The intentions are very clear: Jada wants to highlight the character of the queen, which is why she herself prepares the audience at the beginning of each episode with a passionate narration about the iconic Egyptian. Soon after this tale, Cleopatra begins to emerge as the infallible personality without blemish or blemish, whose questionable decisions are always traced back to defensive strategies. This is a segment celebrating African Queens and starring a black actress… with the best intentions in the world. But with all the inevitable politics that comes with these titles, quality has to come with it. There are no redemption points in this docudrama.

The decision to mix documentary with dramatization seems to sidestep both things. The documentary part features experts describing Cleopatra’s feelings as if they were novelists; while the dramatized part completely disregards the sociopolitical aspects in the construction of their dialogues. The political Cleopatra is the focus of the documentary part; and in the dramatized scenes she is only the protagonist in the romances with Caesar and Mark Antony.

Sometimes it feels like we’re watching a history or discovery channel documentary. Despite the visual care, the budget is tight and the result is underwhelming as the scenes are trapped in boring interior locations. The text of the sequels is superficial, impoverished by the sentimental excesses you see in bad soap operas, created to exist rather than to bewitch. We go from the historian describing emotions she cannot define to the kitschy illustration of this description. The conclusion is obvious: if one wanted to speculate about Cleopatra’s feelings, one should have chosen only fiction as a basis. It is very strange to see how a professional in this field describes thoughts and not data.

Adele James is giving it her all amid this misunderstanding. She turns out to be a wise choice and any discussion of the queen’s ethnicity is entirely unnecessary from an artistic point of view. This discussion proved far more important in illustrating the hypocrisy of those who invoked the protests. HBO’s Cleopatra was hateful and far from the image that purist pundits see as “justified”; but… anyway, we know that “but” is that.

Unfortunately, all of this gets lost when we look at the product that emerged from the challenge of this escalation. “Cleopatra” is a misguided reverie with no historical or dramatic prestige that aspires to be a complete play about the Queen but ends up cursing the attempt. Maybe a Discovery documentary will do him better anyway.


Queen Cleopatra Read Netflix Docudrama Review.svg

Queen Cleopatra

Closed (2023 )

Queen Cleopatra

Closed (2023 )

Created by: Jada Pinkett Smith