Menu
Entertainment

Cleopatra restoration vindicates traumatised director

Byron Bay woman Alex Mankiewicz has just returned from the Cannes Film Festival where she viewed the restored four-hour version of the 1963 film Cleopatra, written and directed by her father, Joseph L. Mankiewicz (pictured).
Byron Bay woman Alex Mankiewicz has just returned from the Cannes Film Festival where she viewed the restored four-hour version of the 1963 film Cleopatra, written and directed by her father, Joseph L. Mankiewicz (pictured). Isobel Rodgers

WHEN Alex Mankiewicz was growing up, the most expensive epic Twentieth Century Fox had ever produced - the 1963 film, Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - was never talked about.

That's despite her father having been the writer and director of the celebrated movie.

"Cleopatra was like Voldemort - He Who Shall Not be Named," Ms Mankiewicz, of Byron Bay said. "It was a huge part of my dad's story and it nearly destroyed him."

The making of the epic film had traumatised her father, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, she said, both during filming amid the scandalous affair of its stars, Burton and Taylor, and later when film executives cut the original length of six hours, to four, to eventually just over three.

Cleopatra was like Voldemort - He Who Shall Not be Named

 

However, on its 50th anniversary last week, the film was lauded at the Cannes Film Festival where the restored four-hour version was screened as part of the Cannes Classics to an audience that included Richard Burton's daughter Kate Burton, and Chris Wilding, Elizabeth Taylor's son, along with Ms Mankiewicz and her mother, Rosemary Mankiewicz, 83.

The film was already $5 million in debt and had been shooting for six months in London before Joseph L. Mankiewicz was asked to take over from Rouben Mamoulian and start filming in Rome from scratch.

"There really was no script so dad was writing at night and filming during the day," Ms Mankiewicz, who returned from Cannes on Monday, said.

"This was in a time before CGI (computer generated images) so he was managing a cast of 2300 extras.

"In the middle of it all there was the Burton and Taylor scandal and all the paparazzi.

"At one stage the Vatican stepped in and threatened the whole production.

"It was an extremely exhausting undertaking and the scandal threatened to overshadow the beauty and the intimacy of the film and the brilliance of the actors.

"Dad originally wanted it to be two films, but he was ahead of his time with that idea.

"The film's restoration is so beautiful. Dad would have been so pleased to see it screened in its original length.

"He would have felt vindicated," Ms Mankiewicz.

Topics:  editors picks film



Sea lice, bluebottles give swimmers a sting

Marine bluebottles have been frequenting North Coast beaches lately with north-easterly winds.

Lifeguards and volunteers kept busy with treatments

Bad smell, discoloured water leads to council investigation

Council staff have taken water samples at different locations in Tallow Creek at Suffolk Park after members of the public reported a bad smell and discoloured water.

Water sample results yet to come out, but could be a natural event

Fire destroys farm shed, threatens home

Fire-fighters mopping up a large shed fire that destroyed machinery and threatened to damage a nearby home on Skyline Rd, Lismore.

The blaze started when hay bales spontaneously combusted

Local Partners

Actor Will Smith spotted in Queensland

ACTOR Will Smith is in Far North Queensland and making fast friends with the locals as he visits Lizard Island during his Australian holiday.

Miranda Kerr shows off baby bump in chic ensemble

Kerr looked stylish with round sunglasses perched on her head and a coat draped over her shoulders.

Miranda Kerr shows off growing baby bump in Los Angeles

‘Hypocrite’ Scarlett Johansson slammed over Franco comments

Scarlett Johansson spoke to the 500,000 strong crowd during the Women's Rally. Source: AFP/ Mark Ralston.

Scarlett Johansson cops a backlash over Woody Allen comments

Reality star’s 45kg prison weight loss

Abby Lee Miller was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges of bankruptcy fraud. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Dance Moms’ Abby Lee Miller shows glimpse of extreme weight loss

First name revealed for I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here

Isuzu D-MAX will be in the middle of the reality TV action this year.

Series four name revealed ahead of program launch.

Kidman’s powerful SAG speech

Nicole Kidman accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or limited series for Big Little Lies at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

AUSTRALIAN actor Nicole Kidman has won a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Kate Middleton wants to mix things up for third baby

Kate wants to avoid the chaos she experienced after the birth of Prince George and Pincess Charlotte. Picture: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Duchess of Cambridge wants to avoid "chaos" of pregnancy.