Blu-ray Release: Cleopatra (1963)

Blu-ray Release Date: May 21, 2013
Price: Blu-ray $24.99, Blu-ray Digibook $34.99
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Cleopatra movie scene

Elizabeth Taylor is Cleopatra.

Twentieth Century Fox’s legendary 1963 epic historical film drama Cleopatra—you know, the one starrig Elizabeth Taylor (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Richard Burton (The Sandpiper) and Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady) that almost put the studio out of business—finally makes its Blu-ray debut!

Acknowledging the film’s 50th anniversary, the complete 243-minute premiere version of Cleopatra arrives in two formats: As a two-disc Blu-ray and as a double-disc, picture-filled Blu-ray Digibook.

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the historical epic was the highest grossing film of 1963, though it nearly bankrupted Fox with its unprecedented production cost of $42 million (which is the equivalent to some $300 million today). In addition to elaborate sets and costumes, production delays and the relocation of principal filming from London to Rome added to the skyrocketing budget. On top of that, the very public love affair between star Taylor and Burton that blossomed during the three-year production meant that there was as much romance and intrigue off-screen as on-screen.

Ultimately, the film won four Academy Awards, and was nominated for five more, including Best Picture. Still, it’s an overlong though undeniably watchable production. It’s Liz and Dick, after all!

Among the extensive bonus features, which include never-before-seen content including Cleopatra’s lost footage, are the following (many of which appeared on earlier DVD editions of the film):

Disc 1

  • Cleopatra Through The Ages: A Cultural History
  • Cleopatra Missing Footage
  • Fox Movie Channel presents Fox Legacy with Tom Rothman
  • Commentary with Christopher Mankiewics, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau and Jack Brodsky
  • The Cleopatra Papers: A Private Correspondence

Disc 2

  • Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood
  • The Fourth Star of CleopatraCleopatra
  • Fox Movietone News
  • Archival Footage of the New York Premiere
  • Archival Footage of the Hollywood Premiere
  • Commentary with Christopher Mankiewics, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau and Jack Brodsky
  • Theatrical Trailers




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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.