ADG Perspective

January-February 2020

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1 4 8 P E R S P E C T I V E | J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 0 RESHOOTS B Y N I K K I R U D L O F F, A S S O C I A T E E D I T O R A A. ILLUSTRATION OF ANTONY'S CHAMBER FROM CLEOPATRA (1963). JOHN DECUIR (PRODUCTION DESIGNER), MAURICE PELLING (ILLUSTRATOR). C O U RT E S Y O F T H E M A R G A R E T H E R R I C K L I B R A RY, A . M . P. A . S. B. A FRAME FROM CLEOPATRA WITH ELIZABETH TAYLOR AS CLEOPATRA. B Cleopatra was remade in 1963 with Elizabeth Taylor as the lead. Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowall and Martin Landau are featured in supporting roles. It chronicles the struggles of Cleopatra, the young Queen of Egypt, to resist the imperial ambitions of Rome. The top illustration is signed by the British Art Director Maurice Pelling (also known for Goldfinger and The Avengers). The illustration depicts a soldier in Antony's Chamber at Cleopatra's Palace, done in opaque watercolors, felt- tipped pen and pastel. The Production Designer, John DeCuir, also painted dozens of watercolor concept paintings for the film. Filming began at Pinewood Studios in England but in January 1961, Taylor became so ill that production was shut down. Production moved from London to Rome following Elizabeth Taylor's illness, and the film's elaborate sets and props all had to be constructed twice. The production required so much lumber and raw materials that building supplies became scarce throughout Italy. Filming finally finished at Cinecittà Studios in Rome on March 6, 1963, after a full two and a half years of production. The world premiere was held on June 12 in New York less than three months later. Cleopatra ended up costing $31 million, making it the most expensive film ever made at the time, and almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox. The film won best Art Direction at the 1964 Oscars.

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