Continued from "The Restored Cleopatra", page 5 - The films continues from the "secret aperture" relatively uncut, with the exception of a few truncated pieces of dialogue. Cleopatra spys the "Falling Sickness", and what Flavius does to help Caesar through the seizure. Throughout the night, her thoughts remain on Caesar's condition, one that was believed to be bestowed upon the person by the gods themselves. While Charmian and Eiras sleep on their mats beside Cleopatra's bed, she remains awake...thinking.... The scene fades to Ptolemy's encampment. There, the camp is starting to pack up. Achillas is reading a scroll just brought to him by a courier. It smells. A perfumed parchment from Pothinos! It relays the information that Cleopatra is now inside the Palace, under the protection of Rome, which explains why her army has disbanded. Many of her unpaid troops have come over to join Achillas. Plans are made to surround the Royal Enclosure and to blockade the harbor to prevent Caesar's possible escape to the sea. Achillas feels this is all too easy; Caesar must be up to something. A General reminds Achillas that King Ptolemy is still inside the Palace, at Caesar's mercy. Achillas says, "He won't hurt Ptolemy." The General also reminds Achillas that Pothinos and Theodotus are inside the Palace, too. Achillas, grinning, says, "I'd almost forgotten about them." Then, he remembers Caesar. He stops smiling. The scene fades to Cleopatra's apartment where she is having her morning meal. Phoebus, the blind singer, stops his song. Cleopatra asks why. "The corridor. There is movement." Cleopatra tells her servants that the, "Romans tell fabulous tales of my bath and handmaidens - and my morals." Again, the film continues relatively intact with, again, the occasional truncated piece of dialogue. The conclusion of that last line included. Cleopatra would continue, to Eiras, "...undress me - you are all to wear just enough to make him wish you had worn even less - or much more..." Caesar approaches the door to Cleopatra's apartment, but Apollodorus blocks it. Caesar has Apollodorus held back, then enters. Phoebus is reciting: "Ah then, let us live and love without one thought for the gossip of the virgins now grown old and still. Caesar sees Cleopatra surrounded by handmaidens at work on her. Charmian is directing the beautification - "Just a touch of that henna dye on the toenails - more on the fingernails...you must not use the same rouge for the kneecaps and the breasts - a bit more shadowing for her Majesty's armpits..." Phoebus continues, "Suns go down and may return. But once put out our own brief light we sleep through one eternal night - " Charmian continues, "Don't forget the blue kohl for the eyelids - perhaps just a sprinkling of silver dust...Eiras, a paste of powdered gems and perfume for the Queen's navel." Charmian, holding off noticing Caesar until the most effective moment, exclaims in virginal horror, "An intruder! A man! The film continues from this point through the next scene where Caesar gives the order to burn the Egyptian fleet, but not before the night - he "needs this day". In his apartment, he happily receives a scroll he's been awaiting. Rufio salutes and leaves. Caesar burns the scroll. The scene dissolves to Achillas' command post. An officer enters Achillas' tent to find him heartily eating, and reports that the Romans have set fire to the Egyptian fleet. Achillas tears out of the tent to observe the burning ships and the fire spreading to the city. He is told reports say panic in the streets is spreading faster than the fire. Thinking Caesar's troops will be concentrated on the harbor, Achillas orders an attack on the Moon Gate to the Royal Enclosure - the "Moon Gate only!" To another officer, he says, "We'll make him commit what he has left to the defense of one gate - let his reserves come out and chase us for a while - then march in as we please - (grinning) - We shall have our morning meal in the Palace. Served to us, perhaps, by the Mighty Caesar..." The scene dissolves to Cleopatra's library, where Sosigenes is explaining epilepsy to Cleopatra. He tells her, "...it's called an epilepse because of the arching caused by the muscular spasms, the contortions. The Greeks of early days considered those who suffered from it to be favored by the gods..."
I know. The gods themselves were
said to have this - falling sickness...
It's the one illness gods suffer from.
A man who had this - epilepse. How
would they favor him?
It would depend upon the man...
One already great and powerful...
To such a man - I know of no disease
Because it becomes progressively
worse - and, in time, affects the
(Cleopatra is silent)
I have seen men of brilliance and
wisdom, thus afflicted - in time go
mad with delusion. The wildest
dreams of glory alternate with black
despair, rage and weeping -
Such a man must then welcome death...
At least they have no fear of it.
This sometimes helps one to become
great and powerful...
Cleopatra continues, "The Great Alexander, they say - had this falling sickness." When Cleopatra sees the fire has engulfed the Great Library of Alexandria she starts out of the room. Sosigenes seems to be in shock, listing the treasures that will be lost forever. This, even more, personalizes the wanton destruction to her. She strides across the room to the door, Apollodorus following. Flinging the door open, she sees her way barred by a web of swords and lances. She addresses a young officer:
I have tolerated this childish
nonsense much too long! Stand
Your Majesty, my orders from Caesar -
(Apollodorus has come up to
take Cleopatra's arm)
Your orders from the Queen of Egypt -
are the let me through!
Cleopatra yanks loose from Apollodorus and throws herself at the crossed spears. The embarrassed guards try not to hurt her. Apollodorus goes to her aid, but is held off by two of the men. Cleopatra kicks, butts - finally yanks a short sword out of a guard's scabbard. She starts swinging wildly.
Let her through!
The guards part suddenly - and gratefully. Cleopatra nearly falls out into the corridor. She recovers her balance, and dignity.
I shall have to report this to Caesar,
I'll deliver your message. I happen
to be going that way.
Sword still in hand, Cleopatra strides down the corridor like an avenging Fury. The guards - still holding back Apollodorus - stare after her with mingled awe and incredulity. We continue on in Caesar's apartment. He is talking to Agrippa about the fire when, suddenly, a loud conflict is heard outside his door. Cleopatra has begun a repeat of her earlier rumble with the Roman guards. But these are tougher. One of them simply hoists her into the air, kicking and flailing. Caesar signals for her to be set down. The scene continues and Caesar admonishes Cleopatra, "Have you broken out of the nursery, young lady - to come irritate the adults? Some other time, we have work to do!
Great, strong, Roman man's work,
Say what you have to say, and get
I'll get out when I choose!
Shall we remove her for you, Caesar?
No, let the child play Queen.
Perhaps if we were to leave...
Please don't go. What I have to
say is meant for all of you...
She walks slowly before them for an instant, eyeing them as if they were backward students...
If possible, I would like to define -
in terms simple enough to be understood
by you hulking all-conquering heroes -
what a library is. I wonder...have any
of you ever heard of something called -
a thought? An idea? A philosophic
principal - a scientific discovery -
a book, a poem, a play - a simple
sunset told in words that only one man
in all of time will use to tell it?
(she whirls suddenly
How dare you and the rest of your
barbarians set fire to my library?
The scene continues. Caesar says, "Daughter of an idiotic flute-playing drunkard who bribed his way to the throne of Egypt!" Cleopatra retorts, "Your price was too high, remember? [A reference to the cut scene of Cleopatra's command tent at the beginning of the film, where she learns Caesar was on the only Roman her "drunken sot of a father" could not bribe," because the terms were too high.]
You call me barbarian? You play
goddess with me - I who have been
to the limits of the world and
beyond, and brought it all together
into one place - this hand!
It trembles with rage as he holds it out to her. She hits at it with her fist. He grabs her, holds her pressed close to him. The scene continues with Caesar, "I've had my fill with the smug condescension of you worn-out
pretenders! Parading on the ruins of your past glories." They continue. Cleopatra, "...as if I were something you had conquered?" And, Caesar, "If I choose to regard you as such." He now becomes conscious of her extreme closeness. His feelings are mixed; yet he cannot retreat from his purpose of utterly dominating her.
That hand, by the way - which has
gathered together the limits of the
world - is also on me, Caesar...
I'm aware of that.
Am I to understand you feel free
to do whatever you want with me -
whenever you want...?
The film continues uncut through the Battle of the Moon Gate. The battle won, we see Caesar lie down to rest. The scene dissolves to the Egyptian desert at daybreak, and an Egyptian courier riding furiously over the dunes toward Alexandria. The scene dissolves to Achillas' command post. He is at his plotting board, getting fast and overlapping reports from his officers. He is in a rage.
The Romans do nothing but hold
position! They will not come out!
Caesar refuses to commit his reserves!
We'll commit them for him! Launch
full scale attacks against the
Sun Gate in the East, and the Gate
of Hercules to the West. If he
wants to fight a holding battle
I'll give him more to hold than
he has hands for!
My losses have been heavy -
eight hundred men dead, and
Meanwhile the courier has arrived, making a flying dismount and leaving his horse to be caught by others. He has spoken rapidly to still another officer, who runs in now to Achillas and whispers to him urgently over his shoulder.
(reacting to the news)
The officer finishes with the report and Achillas crosses to the plotting board and suddenly sweeps it clear with his hand.
I should have known he was up
to something. I did know!
Cancel the attacks -- prepare
to withdraw and regroup --
(as they explode
Rufio is at our back with an
army of twenty thousand!
The command post explodes into preparation for the move. Achillas sinks heavily into his seat. The scene dissolves to the Moon Gate ramparts. Caesar emerges from his rest and casually reveals they have Achillas in, "...a vise." "What vise...", asks Agrippa. Caesar, with a smug smile, finally reveals the armies of Mithradates are near, that he started them on the way when they set sail for Egypt. "After all...", he says, "...no general in his right mind could hope to hold Alexandria with only two legions. As you -- and others -- have repeatedly pointed out to me." The scene dissolves to the advancing armies of Mithradates.