Friday, July 20, 2012


As I've already mentioned on this blog, my love for all things PEPLUM started when I was a teen and saw CAESAR & CLEOPATRA, a film that everyone seems to hate except me. The one thing I really love from this subtle super-production were the special effects which are some of the best I've ever seen. I've watched this film countless of times and up to this day I couldn't tell you how they achieved the fx shown in the first photo. The huge lighthouse looks totally real in the film. I thought "they actually built such a huge set just for a few seconds?" Now I got the answer with this photo: it wasn't a painted matte shot but a model (or a small set) in the foreground filmed with the live action in the background. The execution is so good it's flawless.

Here are two photos of a scene: one of a partially finished shot (above) and the other with the completed shot (below) including the statue added in the foreground. Love it.

 A matte shot of the lighthouse of Alexandria

I call this film a subtle super-production because the buildings in Alexandria are so beautifully rendered,  in matte shots or with models, that it really gives this production a stunning gleam of quality.


Peakpasha said...

That shot of the soldiers marching on the second picture was reused in Carry on Cleo.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Foreground miniatures were a popular way to do 'in camera' special effects back in the day. The technique is still used some. There are a bunch of shots in the Lord of the Rings films that use different size sets and miniatures to create 'false' perspectives.

isisjoana said...

You aren't the only one who loves this movie. I love these movie in fact is my favorite movie of all times!

Anonymous said...

This film's poor reputation (too long, too talky, etc.) is undeserved. Like the Taylor-Burton Cleopatra, this version also went over budget, took a long time to film and had its share of personal tragedy (Vivien fell while filming a scene and suffered a miscarriage). I've always admired this film's attention to detail in depicting Alexandria, from the inclusion of the Alexandrian acropolis (in your photo of the courtyard with the statue in the foreground) to the mix of Greek and Egyptian art and architecture. This film's interior scenes are proabaly more historically accurate than the gaudy, oversized palace interiors of the Taylor-Burton Cleopatra.

Pal said...

I love matte paintings/miniatures - and the excellent CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA has lots of them.

In this respect, my other favourite films include SIGN OF THE PAGAN (the matte paintings too look quite different in the full screen and the wide screen versions, so it is good to have them both), GIANT OF MARATHON, and THE EGYPTIAN.

A nice painting is pure art (plus it provides us with a "real" look at a particular time and place - in this case, the ancient world/era; With no time machine at our disposal, it is the best thing we can have...).