Netflix’s latest historical drama series, Queen Cleopatra, directed by Tina Gharavi and narrated by Jada Pinkett Smith, delves into the life and times of Egypt’s last pharaoh. With four episodes in total and a runtime of about 45-48 minutes, the series aims to showcase Cleopatra as a queen, strategist, and ruler of formidable intellect, as well as one of history’s most famous, powerful, and misunderstood women.
The series, features Adele James as Cleopatra, Craig Russell as Mark Antony, John Partridge as Julius Caeser, and Kaysha Woollery as Charmian, among others. The series also includes some scholars like Professor Shelley P. Haley, Professor Joyce Tyldesley, Dr. Islam Issa, Dr. Sally-Ann Ashton and others.
Despite the controversy surrounding Cleopatra’s physical appearance, with historians contradicting each other and no concrete information available about her mother’s lineage, the creators have decided to portray her of Black/Mixed lineage. However, the series fails to provide a clear understanding of who Cleopatra was as a person and the featured historians conflicting perspectives only add to the confusion.
Queen Cleopatra: A misunderstood historical figure or a soap drama?
While the intention was to explore Cleopatra’s story as a queen and ruler of formidable intellect, the series falls short in delivering a coherent narrative. The featured historians contradict each other, and the series fails to translate the charisma and power of Cleopatra on the screen.
The narration tries to project her as a goddess making all the correct decisions, while the on-screen portrayal shows a queen looking for ways to keep her throne by doing anything necessary. The show could have been improved if it had taken a different approach and focused more on presenting a dramatized version of Cleopatra’s life, instead of constantly relying on input from scholars.
The acting was not particularly engaging and could put viewers to sleep, making it difficult to accurately assess the show’s historical accuracy, even for those who are not experts on the subject. To conclude, the portrayal of Queen Cleopatra in this series is disappointing, as it fails to truly delve into the complexities of her life as Egypt’s last pharaoh.
Instead of providing a nuanced and insightful exploration of her character, the show presents a superficial representation that often feels like a soap opera.
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