The Enduring Appeal of Cleopatra that Gal Gadot Hopes New Movie will Tap into

Cleopatra VII is one of the most famous figures of the ancient world. The last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled Egypt, her downfall spelt the end of the ancient Egyptian kingdom, resulting in Octavian – who was renamed Augustus – establishing the lands as a Roman province. Throughout history, tales have been told of Cleopatra’s spellbinding beauty and incredible seductive skills, but accounts have since been recovered detailing her supreme intelligence and leadership abilities.

The legend of the last pharaoh, or ‘Egyptian Queen,’ are known to this day, with her name being synonymous with beauty and rule over one of the most iconic civilisations of the ancient world. Perhaps only Tutankhamun holds a candle to her fame in the modern age, with Cleopatra being a regular enough feature in pop culture in recent decades. Soon, it seems, Cleopatra will return to the big screen, this time played by Gal Gadot – who is on Snapchat – with the production hoping to tap into the historic figure’s continued fame.

From the history books to the big screen

We’re lucky that both the late ancient Egyptians and Roman Empire were so fastidious about record keeping, particularly when it came to rulers, and that those records were so well preserved. Cleopatra not only ruled Egypt from 51 BCE to 30 BCE, but her ties to Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony allowed her to have a significant influence on the politics of Rome. Her ties to the Roman Empire at a crucial period, as Britannica details, helped to spread a mixed legend, with Augustus belittling her prominence while Muslim scholars elevated her as a gifted philosopher.

Still, it was William Shakespeare’s version in the play, Antony and Cleopatra, as a heroine that has become the most endearing depiction of the Egyptian queen today. Now, when “Cleopatra” is said, people conjure up images of an exotic queen who’s both incredibly beautiful and intelligent beyond her peers. The Lumineers decided to call their album ‘Cleopatra,’ with it said to be a modern retelling of her historical accounts and the Shakespeare play – which is what people would expect from such a name.

Cleopatra is an instantly-recognisable name, one that offers modern fame without the need to brand or licence. She represents power and beauty, which makes naming a product after her very effective. This can be seen at Betway, where Ancient Egyptian slots are already among the most popular. Cairo, Mask of Amun, and Ark of Ra are all among the ‘Top Games,’ but it’s Wild Link Cleopatra that truly catches the eye. This instant appeal truly boils down to how well-known and highly-revered the queen’s legend is – regardless of if the players know her full story or not.

Of course, Hollywood has also had a fair few swings at the famous figure, often playing on her love life rather than aptitude for rule and politics, as ArtUK delves into. Elizabeth Taylor played the titular character in the film Cleopatra (1963), following the likes of Claudette Colbert (1934) and Theda Bara (1917). Still, it’s the ‘60s flick that proved the most captivating and iconic, if not only for the glamour of the film. On the smaller screen, in 1999, Leonor Varela starred in a mini-series based on a historical fictional novel, with Timothy Dalton as Julius Caesar.

Gal Gadot to tell the whole legend of Cleopatra

Written by Gal Gadot with the screenplay from Laeta Kalogridis (Alita: Battle Angel, Shutter Island), Cleopatra will star the Wonder Woman actor in the titular role. It was originally set to be directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster, Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman 1984), but she dropped out, making way for Kari Skogland (Fifty Dead Men Walking) to helm the project. Importantly, this isn’t going to be a remake of the famous 1960s movie, looking to move a bit away from Cleopatra’s depiction as a siren seductress.

The biopic, Gadot says to InStyle, is going to “show not just how sexy and appealing she was, but how strategic and smart,” as well as her impact on the world at the time and through to this day. The actor commented further that the film will be a celebration of the historical icon, and that the story is one that “the world needs to hear now.” Given the trends of Hollywood of late, a more complete telling of Cleopatra does seem to be the perfect way to go. Without changing the story, the movie can showcase an incredibly influential and savvy female lead in a time when the most powerful figures around the all-important Mediterranean were men.

Cleopatra is an instantly-recognisable figure, and it sounds like Gadot plans to bring a much more rounded and true-to-life version of the last pharaoh to the big screen.

Written by Monella