Mark Langley (Bath Spa) – Unravelling Cleopatra

Wednesday 22 January 2015. 12.30-2pm
CM105, Newton Park. 

Fifty years after its release, Twentieth Century Fox’s Cleopatra still carries the soubriquet of “the biggest flop of all time.” Such is the reputation of the film that it is difficult to distinguish historical fact from the competing stories that forged the Hollywood legend. Myth: Elizabeth Taylor was the first female actor to sign a $1 million contract – not true. Myth: the studio sold the back lot to pay for the film – completely false. Instead, Cleopatra was the product of an ailing studio, not the cause of its downfall. Locked into a spiral of mounting debts and a desperate need for the film to make money, the publicity department went in to overdrive, the story they created is still the story we hear today, but where does the fiction begin and end?


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