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Cleopatra (1912)

Unrated | | Drama, History | 13 November 1912 (USA)
The fabled queen of Egypt's affair with Roman general Marc Antony is ulimately disastrous for both of them.


Charles L. Gaskill


Victorien Sardou (adapted from the play by)


Airs Mon. Sep. 30, 12:45 AM on TCM


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Complete credited cast:
Helen Gardner ... Cleopatra - Queen of Egypt (as Miss Gardner)
Pearl Sindelar ... Iras - An Attendant (as Miss Sindelar)
Miss Fielding Miss Fielding ... Charmian - An Attendant
Miss Robson Miss Robson ... Octavia - Wife of Antony
Helene Costello ... Nicola - a Child (as Miss Helene)
Charles Sindelar Charles Sindelar ... Antony - a Triumvir and General (as Mr. Sindelar)
Mr. Howard Mr. Howard ... Pharon - a Greek Slave and Fisherman
James R. Waite James R. Waite ... Venditius - a Roman Soldier (as Mr. Waite)
Mr. Osborne Mr. Osborne ... Diomedes - a Rich Egyptian (as Mr. Osborn)
Harry Knowles Harry Knowles ... Kephren - Captain of the Guards to the Queen (as Harley Knowles)
Mr. Paul Mr. Paul ... Octavius - a Triumvir and General
Mr. Brady Mr. Brady ... Serapian - an Egyptian Priest
Mr. Corker Mr. Corker ... Ixias - Servant to Ventidius


When she discovers that a slave named Pharon professes his love for her, Cleopatra makes a bargain with him: she will give him ten days of "love," at the end of which he is to commit suicide. He agrees, although the queen's handmaiden Iras, in love with the slave, isn't happy with the arrangement. Later when Cleopatra is seducing Marc Antony, her relationship with Pharon is used against her, but with little effect. She allies herself with Antony against Octavius, participates in a brief war, then meets her end rather than be subjected to Roman rule. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History


Unrated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 November 1912 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cleopatra: The Romance of a Woman and a Queen See more »

Filming Locations:

Tappan, New York, USA


Box Office


$45,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


William Shakespeare's play was produced in London circa 1606-7; Victorien Sardou's play, "Cléopatre", opened in Paris on 23 October 1890. See more »


Pharon - a Greek Slave and Fisherman: You may kill me, Queen, but the love in my soul for you will never perish!
Cleopatra - Queen of Egypt: If I let you live - and love me - ten days, will you swear then to destroy yourself?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Certain stage traditions originally founded in ignorance and preserved after they became traditions, have not been considered; the object of the Director has been to insure naturalness in an atmosphere of romance, the object of the Author to intimate the nobilities and grandeur of the woman who was devotedly loved by Julius Caesar. Perfect freedom has been exercised in the adaption. See more »

Alternate Versions

A restored version, funded by Turner Classic Movies and in the George Eastman House Collection, was shown on Turner Classic Movies on 10 August 2000. It has an original music score by Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida, and runs 88 minutes. See more »


Version of Cleopatra (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

Watching Cleopatra was like watching a toddler learning to walk
8 September 2008 | by sbalettiSee all my reviews

I happened onto "Cleopatra" on Turner after it had begun, so I didn't know who made it or when. I figured it had to have been made early, as it appeared to be little more than a filmed stage play: tableaux shot by a static camera; moreover, there were absolutely no close-ups. And I gathered it was something of an early "indie," as the costumes were howlingly inauthentic, the sets amateurish and many of the actors "stagy."

I decided the film's date had to be early, around 1910, 1912. But because of the production's growing sophistication – towards the end of the film the camera got more frisky and intimate – it was like watching the vocabulary of cinema being developed before your eyes, like seeing a toddler, very unsteady at first, gaining better equilibrium and more assurance as we watch. While it never gets to the level of either art or storytelling mechanics that Griffith was employing contemporaneously, "Cleopatra" is a fascinating time capsule... It would be intriguing to see her movies in sequence (the presumption being each is better and more sophisticated). It's a shame that so many have disappeared forever.

I had never heard of Helen Gardner, an ambitious actress who opened her own studio. As Cleopatra, she was sort of an ur-vamp whose eye makeup, heft, extravagant gestures and bare feet were several years later appropriated by Theda Bara. She was obviously an important actress, auteur and entrepreneur who should be far more celebrated than she is.

One last point, which others have made but I would like to reiterate: the newly appended score was so annoying and obtrusive that I muted it. I used to accompany silent films when I was in college, so I have a fair idea of the appropriate musical vocabulary. I once saw a revival of "Wings" in New York, and the elderly accompanist simply played everything she remembered from the 1920s, regardless of the on-screen action. Biplanes strafed trenches and killed soldiers by the dozen to the strains of "I'll be down to get you in a taxi, honey." Many of the major silent movies had their own scores written by studio musicians and played either by orchestras or reduced to organ or piano arrangements. I doubt that Gardner's "Cleopatra" had its own score, but SURELY somebody could have produced something more consonant with the time and place of this movie, something that sounded like, well… silent movie music.

Steffan Aletti

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