1970, 155 minutes
(film transferred to DVD)
Cleopatra situates itself in the same relationship
to Hollywood as the Warhol/Morrisey films of the period. It corresponds
to Joseph Mankiewicz's 1963 Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and
Richard Burton which Auder's cast watched and used as the starting point
for scene by scene improvisation Auder drew his cast from Warhol's ensemble
including not only Viva and Louis Waldon, but also Taylor Mead,
Ondine, Andrea Feldman, Gerard Melanga and others.
The film revels in epic excess like Mankiewicz's
cinematic debacle which succumbed to vast length, a bloted budget, multiple
revisions and a scandal occasioned by the extramarital escapades of
In Auder's Cleopatra, Viva is the queen, shrieking
with an authority different from the languorous speech patterns she
had perfected in Warhol's films.
The (newly invented) snowmobile substitutes for horses;
the industrial setting of a factory becomes a showplace of armaments,
and the whole Egypt section takes place in upstate New York. The streets
and parks of Rome, where Waldon lived at the time, are the staging ground
for his role as Caesar.
In a wonderful display of Waldon's charm and skills
as an improviser, he begins a dialogue with local police who are then
conscripted into the film as Roman soldiers.
Auder shot the culminating orgy and gladiator scenes
in the famous Cinécita film studio in Rome where Mankiewicz filmed.
Due to a fight with his producers, Auder never edited the film which
was lost for many years. It survives as an uncut degraded copy of the