Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Shakespeare Study: The Tragedy Of Antony And Cleopatra

This is the third year of my Shakespeare study. I read one play each month, and then watch as many film versions as I can get my hands on, and read as many books about the play as I'm able. July, 2012 was The Tragedy Of Antony And Cleopatra.

Related Books:

- A Reading Of Shakespeare's Antony And Cleopatra  by A.P. Riemer  -  This book has three main sections: a bit of the background of the play, an interpretation of the play (going through the entire thing), and a section about other interpretations by various critics. In the third section, Riemer writes (about Cleopatra), "indeed, what evidence there is suggests that it is her vulgarity and vivacity that make her so irresistible. She is not the perfumed siren but one in whom the vilest things are becoming" (page 107). Published in 1968.

- Shakespeare: Antony And Cleopatra: A Casebook  - Revised Edition  edited by John Russell Brown  -  This collection includes a sections titled "Critical Reactions before 1900," "The Play in Performance" and "Twentieth-century Criticsm."  In the third section, A.C. Bradley writes, "Plutarch says that Octavius was reported to love his sister dearly; and Shakespeare's Octavius several times expresses such love. When, then, he proposed the marriage with Antony (for of course it was he who spoke through Agrippa), was he honest, or was he laying a trap and, in doing so, sacrificing his sister? Did he hope the marriage would really unite him with his brother-in-law; or did he merely mean it to be a source of future differences; or did he calculate that, whether it secured peace or dissension, it would in either case bring him great advantage?" (page 72). Later in that same essay, A.C. Bradley writes, about Antony, "He contends fitfully, and is prone to take the step that is easiest at the moment. This is the reason why he consents to marry Octavia. It seems the shortest way out of an awkward situation. He does not intend even to try to be true to her. He will not think of the distant consequences" (page 77).  The first edition was published in 1968. This revised edition was published in 1991.

- Antony And Cleopatra: Text And Performance  by Michael Scott  -  This is a volume in the Text And Performance series, and focuses on sections of the play (particularly Cleopatra's death), and then on a few productions.  Regarding the "shirt of Nessus" reference in Act IV, Michael Scott writes, "Shakespeare's second allusion to Hercules is more specific. In order to keep her love faithful, Hercules's wife, Deianira, sent Lichas to him with a shirt dipped in the blood of the centaur, Nessus. Hercules had previously killed Nessus with a poisoned arrow when the centaur had attacked Deianira. As Nessus died he had told Deianira that his blood would preserve her husband's love - thus the gift. Hercules in wearing the shirt was poisoned. In his rage he threw Lichas high into the air and to the sea and tore his shirt from his own body pulling with it his flesh. Deianira, seeing what she had done, killed herself and Hercules built a fire on which he sacrificed himself. Ironically therefore, in Deinaira's attempt to keep love secure, the Nessus shirt destroyed both wife and husband. The parallel with Antony is plain. When Cleopatra's fleet surrenders to Octavius, all Antony can see is her betrayal and the cruel irony that in loving her he has destroyed himself: 'Eros, ho!/The shirt of Nessus is upon me...'" (pages 23-24).  But if Antony knows the story, and refers to it, then he must know that it wasn't completely Deianira's fault, that she was duped. So by making the comparison, wouldn't he really be saying it's actually not Cleopatra's fault?  Published in 1983.

- Antony And Cleopatra On The English Stage  by Margaret Lamb  -  As its title suggests, this book is a study of English productions of Antony And Cleopatra from the earliest known stagings to the present. However, one of the most interesting bits for me was the appendix on the problem of lifting Antony into the monument in Act IV.  Samuel Daniel's 1607 revised Cleopatra includes a scene in which Antony is pulled up, but is stopped twice. It is thought that his description came directly from watching a production of Shakespeare's play in which the two pauses of the hoisting of Antony came as accients. Margaret Lamb writes, "Possibly, however, the dramatic pauses were deliberate, and the boy Cleopatra left Antony dangling in midair for a moment or two" (page 183). "Furthermore, the hitches in Daniel's narrative correspond to a similar jump in Shakespeare's text" (page 184). Margaret Lamb continues, "The Folio question concerns an apparent redundancy in lines and action. Cleopatra asks her attendants above and the guards below to help 'draw him hither' (IV.xv.12-13). Yet ten lines later she is telling Antony she 'dare not' kiss him 'Lest I be taken' (21, 23). At line 30 Cleopatra decides that 'we must draw thee up' - which seems to be a repetition of the earlier 'let's draw him hither.' The famous line 'I am dying, Egypt, dying' occurs twice (18, 41). It has been assumed that the apparent repetition is a false start (12-29), uncanceled in the foul papers from which the Folio text was printed; or that both a shortened performance version and the uncut text were inadvertently run together in the First Folio. If, however, the Folio repetitions are intentional, the stops in the hoisting are cued to particular lines in Shakespeare's text. Cleopatra pulls, then stops" (page 184) on "I dare not, dear."  Then Cleopatra continues hoisting him up on "but come, come, Antony."  Cleopatra then stops again, finding her burden heavy, and says, "Here's sport indeed! how heavy weighs my lord!"  She then pulls him again on "Yet come a little."  Published in 1980.

- The Pillar Of The World: Antony And Cleopatra In Shakespeare's Development  by Julian Markels  -  In this critical look at the play, Julian Markels that instead of choosing between the values represented by Cleopatra and those represented by Octavius, "he resolves the conflict by striving equally toward both values and rhythmically making each one a measure and condition of the other" (page 9). Markels writes, "Our question is not whether the reasons he finally enumerates are sufficient to justify Antony's departure for Rome. Our question is rather when, where, how, and why did Antony decide not to 'Let Rome in Tiber melt'? And on that question Antony, and behind him Shakespeare, is dazzingly silent. Antony's last words before his exit at I.i.55 are these to the messengers: 'Speak not to us.' At his next entrance, at I.ii.85, he is accompanied by a messenger who is in the midst of giving him the news from Rome" (page 21). Because the book deals with this play's place in Shakespeare's development, Markels ends up discussing several other of Shakespeare's plays, and actually makes some interesting points regarding Hamlet and King Lear. About Hamlet's famous "To be or not to be speech," Markels says it's not exclusively about suicide: "In Hamlet's very next lines the pair of alternatives for being is followed by a pair of alternatives for conduct; and the syntactical parallelism of the two pairs suggests that at least for his moment, Hamlet, and Shakespeare, are defining 'to be' as 'to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune,' and are defining 'not to be' as 'to take arms against a sea of troubles/And by opposing end them'" (page 92). Markels also talks about how Lear's folly is not in dividing his kingdom, but in his rejection of those who love him: "Before the first scene has ended, Cordelia, Kent, France, Goneril, and Regan - fully half the number of people on the stage besides Lear himself - have separately called our attention to Lear's folly in judging his daughters by their speeches and therefore rejecting Cordelia and Kent. But nobody has said a critical word about Lear's decision to resign the throne and divide the kingom. Kent, who is now ready to risk his life in order to convince Lear that he has misjudged Cordelia, originally had the opportunity to confess privately to Gloucester, without risking Lear's displeasure, whatever misgivings he might have had over Lear's decision to divide the kingdom. Instead, he only voiced surprise that in the division Lear did not favor Albany over Cornwall, a favoritism that, according to standard doctrine, would have compounded the evil of dividing the kingdom in the first place. Shakespeare's whole procedure in the first scene not only ignores but implicitly rejects the possibility that Lear's mistake was the division of the kingdom" (page 99).  Back to Antony And Cleopatra, Markels writes, "And for every mistake he makes, we are told repeatedly by Antony as well as others, there is only one reason: Antony has violated his own identity. From moment to moment he gains and loses and regains himself, always wrestling with his own nature, full of unalterable propensities for folly as well as heroism" (page 123).  About Antony's choice to fight at sea, Markels writes, "If he was eager to challenge Octavius to single combat in the knowledge that he is the better swordsman, it is only appropriate that he accept Octavius' dare and risk a fight at sea where he has reason to think his opponent the better naval tactician. Antony not only accepts in Egypt his continuing obligation of Roman honor, he enhances that honor by investing it with a final meaning" (page 129).  Published in 1968.

- William Shakespeare's Antony And Cleopatra - New Edition  edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom - This is a volume in the Modern Critical Interpretations series, and features essays by J. Leeds Barroll, Michael Goldman, Northrop Frye, Jonathan Gil Harris, Susan Snyder, Thomas M. Greee, Patricia Parker and Alan Stewart.  Northrop Frye writes, "We may still wonder why she insisted on entering the battle in the first place: the reason seems to be that Caesar was shrewd enough to declare the war personally on her, putting her in the spotlight of attention. So, although Antony could have won handily on land, she insists on a seafight, because there would be nowhere to see her in a land operation" (page 70).  Later in that same essay, Frye writes, about Enobarbus, "What he discovers in that moment is that his identity consisted of being a part of Antony's cause, and that he is now nothing, just as a hand severed from the body is no longer a hand. It's significant, I think, that he does not commit suicide: he simply lies down in a ditch and stays there, because he's already dead" (page 75).  Alan Stewart writes, "The letter-writing scene is unique to Shakespeare's play, without parallel in any of the possible sources. So why does Shakespeare make Eros a letter-writing secretary? I suggest that the scene is a deliberate foreshadowing of the moment when Antony will demand Eros's hand to perform another task on his behalf - his suicide. The link between these two secretarial, manual functions, writing and self-killing, is made explicit in Decretas's report: Antony is killed, he claims, by 'that selfe-hand/Which writ his Honor in the Acts it did.' By turning to the trope of a handwritten honor, Decretas unconsciously draws attention to the fact that Antony does not do his own writing, and perhaps he did not write his own honor. Antony's hand is shown not to be his own. Here, the contrast with Caesar is vivid: Octavius's focus on writing is entirely personal - he reads, gathers 'sentences' from the great authors, writes on tables to prepare his speeches, and writes his own letters. Antony's writing, his very hand, conversely, is the joint work of himself and Eros, and therefore his self-killing cannot be the work of his hand alone" (page 190).  Published in 2011.

Film Versions:

- Antony & Cleopatra  (1981) with Colin Blakely, Jane Lapotaire, Ian Charleson, Emrys James, Janet Key; directed by Jonathan Miller.  Some uneven performances, bad lighting and odd choices for shots mar this production.  It picks up toward the end, mainly because the last section of the play is so great.  Ian Charleson as Caesar in his first scene gives a strange, labored delivery (made even worse in relation to the natural deliveries of the others in the scene). (For example, listen to his delivery of "This common body,/Like to a vagabond flag upon the stream,/Goes to and back, lackying the varying tide,/To rot itself with motion." But his performance improves in later scenes. And Jane Lapotaire is fairly weak as Cleopatra. When Cleopatra is missing Antony, she is lying about on her bed, giving a sleepy reading of "That I might sleep out this great gap of time/My Antony is away" and the following lines. It seems a poor choice to me, because she is asking for a drink to make her tired, to make her sleep - so she shouldn't be basically asleep already.  And the humor is mostly drained from what should be a funny moment with the eunuch.  Cleopatra seems so weak moving around on the bed. Lapotaire's performance in this scene is really bad. 
Colin Blakely has some excellent moments as Antony, but also makes some poor choices.  In the scene with Caesar and Lepidus, he angrily shouts the line, "Neglected, rather:/And then when poison'd hours had bound me up/From mine own knowledge."  I think Antony should be more in control at this early point in the play.  Emrys James as Enobarbus gives a long pause after "I will tell you" and before launching into his famous speech describing the moment when Cleopatra and Antony first met. It feels weird, like he knows he's about to deliver a famous speech and wants to draw out the anticipation.  The first scene with Cleopatra and the Messenger starts off well.  She starts to strangle him on "fie upon 'but yet.'" The scene falls apart when Cleopatra gets really angry, because Jane Lapotaire whines.  She should be scary then to the Messenger, not a whiny school girl. It seems when she gets loud, she loses control (the actor, not the character). And then the Messenger raises his voice to her on "Take no offense that I would not offend you;/To punish me for what you make me do/Seems much unequal; he's married to Octavia."  He even uses his hand, pointing angrily at Cleopatra on "he's married to Octavia."  This is completely unbelievable.  There is no way a Messenger would shout at the queen; at least, there is no way he'd get away with it.  A terrible acting (or possibly directing) choice.
Enobarbus is the only character who directly addresses the audience. Oddly, the first time this happens is the line "Then, world, thou hast a pair of chaps, no more," a line which is said to Eros in the middle of their conversation. In this production, that line ends the scene, and is spoken directly to the camera.  One of the strangest choices of this production is that after Antony says, "We may the number of the ships behold/And so proceed accordingly," it goes to a short scene where Caesar says, "Strike not by land."  And then there is a still of a panting of a sea battle, while words scroll up the screen: "The Battle was of even hand & the victory doubtful, when suddenly they saw the threescore ships of Cleopatra busily about their yardmasts, and hoisting sail to fly. So they fled through the middest of them that were in fight, & did marvellously disorder the other ships. There Antonius shewed plainly that he had not only lost the courage & heart of an emperor, but also of a valiant man."  These lines are from the North translation of Plutarch's Lives.  This is in place of the scene with Enobarbus, Scarus and Canidius, in which they talk of the battle and Scarus says that Antony followed Cleopatra's boat from the battle (which is important information). A bad choice in a production full of questionable choices. Enobarbus delivers his "Mine honesty and I begin to square" speech directly to the camera.  The same goes for his "Sir, sir, thou are so leaky" speech.  And of course he delivers his "Now he'll outstare the lightning" speech directly to us.
Colin Blakely is great as Antony in the scene when he learns Enobarbus has left him, especially when he asks, "Is he gone?" That is a wonderful moment. Then the next scene begins with a closeup of Enobarbus as we hear Caesar's line - a nice choice.  The Sentry and his company are cut, so that Enobarbus delivers his lines alone, in a close-up.  Blakely is also really good during Antony's "cloud" speech.  There is some truly awful lighting in the scene following Antony's suicide attempt when he asks the others to finish what he's begun. You can't see much of anything because the light is aimed at the camera.  Jane Lapotaire is bad when Antony dies - her speaking while crying just doesn't work.
But she's really good when she talks to Dolabella about her dream of Emperor Antony.  Seleucus is cut from the scene with the scroll listing Cleopatra's possessions, so all of that business about her holding back certain things is gone. It goes from her "Not petty things admitted" straight to Caesar's "still be't yours" (thus cutting approximately forty-five lines). The man who brings the snakes is wonderful, and that scene is great.  After Cleopatra applies the first snake, the camera goes in for an extreme closeup (obviously so that we don't see that the snake really isn't biting her). But it remains there, even for her line, "Nay, I will take thee too," so we don't see her take the second snake and apply it to her arm. So for those unfamiliar with the play, that line will be confusing.  We need to see her take the second snake.  We have a closeup on Charmian for her speech. She says, "Your crown's awry; I'll mend it," but she doesn't adjust the crown.  That's a shame, because that should be a really nice moment.  (time: 170 minutes)

- Antony And Cleopatra  (1972) with Charlton Heston, Hildegarde Neil, Eric Porter, John Castle, Jane Lapotaire, Julian Glover; directed by Charlton Heston.  Many of the scenes are re-arranged, and key characters are cut (most notably, Dolabella and the Clown). I'll never understand people who believe they can improve Shakespeare.  Note to everyone on the planet: you're not as good a writer as Shakespeare.  But that being said, there is quite a bit of good stuff in this film. The performances are decent, though John Castle plays Octavius as so serious throughout the film. The first lines are not Shakespeare's.  We don't get Philo's thoughts at the beginning. The first line from the play is Cleopatra's "If it be love, tell me how much." Cleopatra and Antony are lounging around by themselves, something that never happens in the play.  She's casually painting his lips, which is a really nice sort of reference to the famous crossdressing of those two.  Then we get Philo's lines, but spoken by Enobarbus (Eric Porter), an interesting choice. And Eros says the messenger's line, "News, my lord, from Rome."  After the scene with Caesar and Lepidus (I iv) it goes right to Pompey (II i), skipping Cleopatra's scene.  Pompey is on a boat, just off shore.
During Act II Scene ii, there is a gladiator fight, which Octavius, Lepidus and Antony occasionally pay attention to.  After the decision is made to wed Antony to Octavia, we go to Cleopatra's scene (I v) rather than into Enobarbus' famous speech.  The scene takes place on Cleopatra's barge, which is like a big floating bed.  Charmian slaps a naked Iras in the ass.  This scene is short, cut before Alexas enters.  Then it skips to Act II Scene vi, the scene with Pompey, which takes place on a beach.  We see the drinking on the boat, and the celebration.  The first line of the scene is Menas' "Pompey, a word."  Then it goes to II v, Cleopatra's scene.  The messenger is an older man. Cleopatra whips him, then goes to stab him with a dagger. It's a good scene, particularly Hildegarde Neil's performance as Cleopatra.  Charmian (Jane Lapotaire) doesn't move or even turn toward the messenger before saying, "He is afeard to come," which is an odd choice.
Then it goes right to Act III Scene ii, but begins that scene with Caesar, Antony and Octabia. Agrippa and Enobarbus come in after Caesar's "I have said."  In the second messenger scene, when Cleopatra asks, "Is she as tall as me," the messenger looks to Alexas, who subtly shakes his head no. He looks to him again when Cleopatra asks if her face is long or round. When she asks about Octavia's hair color, the messenger blurts out, "Blond," something Shakespeare did not write, then says, "Brown."  Then it goes back to Act II Scene iii with Antony and Octavia. And Antony steps outside to the Soothsayer.  Then Antony overhears the conversation of Maecenas and Enobarbus from Act II Scene ii, with Enobarbus' great speech. (But Agrippa is not there.)  The line is changed to "the holy priests/Bless her when she is wanton."  (I guess Heston didn't trust that the audience would understand the word "riggish.")  The scene ends there.  Next we see Antony on a boat heading back to Cleopatra, the idea being that hearing Enobarbus praise her convinced him to return.  And we have a scene where they reunite.  Then we go to III vi beginning with Octavia's entrance.  The problem with this is that III iv was cut entirely - which is the scene between Antony and Octavia where they talk about Caesar's new wars on Pompey and Octavia decides to visit her brother.  Octavia, not Caesar, says, "Where is he now?"  Then continues by asking, "My lord, in Athens?" rather than answer his question with that line.  A stupid change.  And her reaction at learning where Antony is comes across as weak.  Then the film goes to the beginning of the scene, which is odd, because Octavia is left standing there.  Cleopatra looks adorable in her warrior's uniform.  We see Cleopatra and Antony looking at each other from their respective boats.  And we see the sea battle, obviously something not in the play. And we actually see the moment when Antony sees Cleopatra's ship retreating, and he gives the order, "Retire. We have engaged ourselves too far."  In Act III Scene ix, Antony and Cleopatra are again alone (something which never occurs in the play), and in this scene we really see their love for one another.  The Ambassador's speech ends with "A private man in Athens," so he doesn't mention Cleopatra. Yet Caesar responds to him as if he did.  In Act III Scene xi, Enobarbus doesn't exit, but remains and watches everything between Cleopatra and Thidius.  Antony strikes Thidius, knocking him down a flight of stairs. He also slaps Cleopatra.  Many lines are cut, so the servants bring Thidius back in with not nearly enough time passing for him to have been whipped.  (You really can't cut any lines there.)  Antony does not mention Hipparchus. Also, Cleopatra's lines about it being her birthday are cut.
We see Thidius' whipped body when Caesar is handed the letter in the next scene.  Antony says, "He will not fight with me, old friend" rather than asking "He will not fight with me, Domitius?"  This scene has Antony and Enobarbus alone, rather than with servitors and Cleopatra. So he does not tell multiple people that they have served him well.  Instead he tells just Enobarbus, "You have served me well." It then goes to the next morning, and Antony says to Eros to call Enobarbus. Shockingly, the wonderful scene where Cleopatra helps arm Antony is cut.  Also cut is the scene with the soldiers just before that.  Then we have Cleopatra's lines, which in the play come before the bit about Enobarbus.  Enobarbus says the line about seeking out a ditch, and then we stay with him as he walks to a cliff and pulls out a sword. He then goes right to "Forgive me in thine own particular" from IV vii. The sentry and his company are cut.  After "a fugitive," he tosses his sword over the cliff.  Then he shouts "O Antony" and jumps. In the play he does not kill himself, but dies.  Then we see some of the land battle. And then suddenly the soldiers step aside, leading to Antony's "This foul Egyptian has betrayed me."  So the whole bit where he celebrates a battle won is cut, which is a shame. Also, he's supposed to be betrayed at sea, not on land.  There is an insane shot where Antony and his horse tumble down a hill, the shot needlessly marred by a voice over repetition of "This foul Egyptian has betrayed me."  And then somehow Antony escapes an entire army and rides to Cleopatra.  The great cloud speech is done while Antony and Eros are in a rowboat. When they go to shore, Mardian arrives to tell him Cleopatra is dead.  But where are they?  After Antony left her palace, he got in a boat. Mardian then left the palace and somehow walks exactly where their boat lands? I don't believe that. So he asks Eros to kill him there on the beach.  Antony balances his sword against a tree and pulls himself onto it.  And then the Soothsayer (not Diomedes) arrives (so the three guards are cut). He says, "Your star has fallen, sir. You may not live. Alas" (lines not in the play).  Then Antony miraculously stumbles all the way to the monument rather than being carried.  He bangs on it with a rock to alert those inside to his presence.  He climbs up Cleopatra's scarf.
Caesar comes upon the Soothsayer in the desert, and it is he - not Dercetas - who tells him Antony is dead.  The Soothsayer also has the lines about Cleopatra being confined in her monument.  Caesar, rather than giving comforting words, merely says, "She soon shall know."  Cleopatra tries to kill herself with the sword of Proculeius (Julian Glover). But then Proculeius speaks Dolabella's lines: "Most noble empress, you have heard of me" and "Assuredly you know me."  He introduces himself and she says Antony told her of him.  And then she tells him - not Dolabella - her dream of Antony. And it is he who tells her of Caesar's plan.  That's a bad change, because the idea was that Antony was wrong about who Cleopatra could trust.  And she hasn't heard of Dolabella, but has heard of Proculeius.  I like Cleopatra's reaction to Caesar's question about whicch is the queen.  Caesar doesn't threaten Cleopatra's children.  All the stuff about her list of possessions is cut, which is a problem because it is that ploy which convinces Caesar that she won't attempt suicide.  The worst cut, however, is the Clown.  Instead, Mardian brings her the asps, and all of the dialogue from that great scene is gone.  All Cleopatra says is "You bring me liberty."  But then the Soothsayer is suddenly there and he speaks some of the Clown's lines, but with a completely different tone.  And then he disappears, which is just stupid. Is he a magical being in this production?  Antony's body is there as Charmian and Iras dress Cleopatra.  Iras stabs herself - something not in the play.  Cleopatra doesn't take a second snake, just the one.  And when she says "O Antony," she actually reaches over to Antony's body.  Cleopatra lies down.  Most of the final lines are cut, including Caesar's line about how she pursued "conclusions infinite.Of easy ways to die."  (time: 148 minutes)

Related Films
- The Making Of Antony And Cleopatra  (2009) This short film is basically an interview with Fraser C. Heston (Charlton Heston's son), with some footage from the film, and some still photos. He talks about the production, about his father's love of Shakespeare, about the cast, about the score.  (time: 33 minutes)
- The Notorious Cleopatra  (1970) with Sonora, Johnny Rocco, Jay Edwards, Dixie Donovan, Mason Bakman; directed by A.P. Stootsberry.  This softcore film confuses Julius Caesar and Octavius, and somehow combines them into one person (at least until the end).  It begins with a slave auction for a hot nude chick. Marc Antony (Johnny Rocco) bids on her, but is outbid.  Caesar requests Marc Antony's precense to deliver a love message to Cleopatra. This production's Cleopatra (Sonora) is a dark-skinned beauty, who does a dance for Antony.  While he has his way with her, two of his men, Enobarbus and Demetrius, wait outside. Enobarbus (Mason Bakman) says, "Take note, I fear we shall see our lord, the pillar of the world, transformed into a strumpet's fool."  That of course is quite close to Philo's line at the beginning of the play, "Take but good note, and you shall see in him/The triple pillar of the world transform'd/Into a strumpet's fool."  Cleopatra tells Antony to stay with her in Egypt.  Enobarbus later tells Antony, "She is cunning past men's thoughts." In the play it is Antony who says, "She is cunning past man's thought" (Act I Scene ii). A messenger comes to tell Antony that his brother and wife have taken arms against Caesar. He then tells him that Fulvia is dead - not in battle, but in bed with Antony's brother.  Antony makes ready to go back to Rome.  We get the scene with Cleopatra in bed longing for Antony. Charmian (Dixie Donovan) tries to cheer her up by giving her a message, which of course leads to a love scene. Cleopatra decides to go to Rome in disguise to seek out Antony and destroy Caesar.  (But she says Julius Caesar, which makes no sense.)  Cleopatra then thinks there might be advantages to wedding (or at least bedding) Caesar, so she goes to him.  There is a weird shot of her shoving food in his mouth.  Antony tells Enobarbus that some of the senators are with him in opposing Caesar, and they will kill him tomorrow in the senate. Again, this film is clearly confused.  Antony tells Enobarbus to toss Cleopatra in the dungeon.  He does so, but Charmian rescues her by seducing the guard. Antony talks to Lepidus, Cassius and Brutus about Caesar, and the three of them kill him, Antony making the first stab.  And Caesar does say the line, "Et tu, Brute."  Then the others turn on Antony. He runs to Cleopatra and then asks to use her fleet to fight the Romans. Enobarbus has lines about how Antony shouldn't have met the Romans at sea, but on land.  Enobarbus then fucks Cleopatra, until Antony arrives and stabs him in the back.  He then stabs Cleopatra. Then a messenger comes in and says by order of Octavius Caesar Antony's to be brought back to Rome to stand trial for treason.  Antony instead stabs and kills himself.  And the film ends there.  So obviously quite different from the play, and quite different from historical records.  (time: 88 minutes)
- Cleopatra's Asp This short and stupid film is narrated. Antony and Cleopatra are in her castle, and they look out the window and see Roman soldiers (clearly footage from some other production). The narrator says, "What we see here is Roman soldiers coming down the escalator. They are coming to bury Antony, not to praise him" (a reference to Antony's line about Caesar in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar).  There is a silly Samuel Clemens reference in that scene too. Antony decides to leave.  The narrator says, "But he knows if the Romans catch him, they're going to cut Marc in twain."  But they're trapped. Cleopatra takes out as asp and offers it to Antony, but he pushes it away. So she applies it to her breast. But it doesn't take. She tries again, and dies. Antony then tries to take out his dagger. The Romans break in, but they don't find Antony.  And he's okay.

Miscellaneous Films
- The Hobart Shakespeareans  (2005) with Rafe Esquith; directed by Mel Stuart. This is an excellent documentary about a teacher at Hobart Elementary in Los Angeles who has his students perform works by Shakespeare.  His class puts on a performance of Hamlet, but the focus is not on the performance, but the process and the way Shakespeare affects the students.  Early on the teacher says it's a play about death, and we see a student read the "To be or not to be" speech.  Michael York and Ian McKellen each visit the classroom (Ian McKellen reads the "O what a rogue and peasant slave" speech, and it's incredible).  On the walls of the classroom are signs such as "The Play's The Thing," "As We Like It" and "Will Power."  The students also have T-shirts that say "Will Power."

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