Continued from "The Restored Cleopatra", page 16 - From the death of Sosigenes, the scene dissolves to Actium, in Greece. Cleopatra's palanquin, borne by slaves, is brought into the scene and lowered to the ground. She is helped out of it and approaches the Command Post where Antony, Euphranor, Rufio, Canidius (a high-ranking Roman General), Ramos, and others are in a conference. As Cleopatra comes to them, all except Antony, bow, then return their attention to their conference. Cleopatra moves unobtrusively to one side and listens...
The great Admiral Euphranor of
Rhodes! You no longer command
a pack of mongrel pirate vessels,
manned by pickpockets and wharf
rats - ours is the largest
fleet of the finest ships ever
built! Carrying the Roman
legions of Mark Antony!
Romans, rats, pirates or the
Gods themselves, your ships are
too large to begin with! And
why must the decks be packed
with 20,000 men and their armor -
Because battles are fought and
won by men!
At sea they are fought and won
by ships! Even empty, these tubs
of yours cannot be maneuvered!
You will not be required to maneuver
Your orders, Admiral, will be to
hold against Agrippa's attack...
And if Agrippa does not attack?
I'll force his hand. I know
By land. I know him by sea...
Antony gestures. Rufio, Ramos, Canidius - and others - draw near the topo table, a table holding a scale version model of the topography of the battle area. Antony uses model ships to illustrate:
With my command ship and two
escorting vessels, I shall break
the Roman center. I have one
objective. Octavian's flagship -
and Octavian. You will engage
his entire line - keep them
away. Your reserves to the
extreme right and left. Once
I am on Octavian, you will
close in - for the kill...
He finishes proudly and takes a long drink from a goblet held by a slave. Euphranor is not impressed.
A classic plan of attack - for
land armies. Agrippa will offer
thanks to all the Gods in all
the heavens if you commit
yourself - and us -
I have committed myself. And
you. And my ships. And my men.
But - but - my Lord - water is
fluid - ships drift - they're
hit, there are gaps - winds
rise suddenly -
The action will begin with the
rising of the sun, tomorrow -
Lord Antony, hear me! Your
battle plan is very brave, very
simple - you might bring it off
on land - but there are ten, a
hundred reasons to debate its
wisdom upon the sea!
The scene continues with Antony relieving Euphranor of his command because of his opposing opinions. Then Rufio picks up where Euphranor left off - pleading, asking, why Antony has committed so many land fighting men to do battle on ships - in the water. Savagely, Antony replies, "Because I have decided it will be so!"
Canidius suddenly speaks up...
Are you sure - ?
You will not say it - and it
must be said!
Are you sure, my Lord, it is
you who have decided it will
A sharp, hidden reaction from Cleopatra. Antony does not look at her. He looks steadily at Canidius...
If not I - then who?
You and I have fought in many
campaigns - on land. I have
watched - and learned from you -
as you made your men ready for
war. As you studied the field
of battle -
I have studied this one. I find
one wave very much like another...
Euphranor would not agree with you.
Nor can I picture Mark Antony upon
that battle field. I see water -
upon which none of us have fought.
I see great floating hulks - built
at the command of Egypt's Queen.
Manned by mercenaries of many
Eastern countries - paid by Egypt's
Queen. I have never known women -
even Queens - to be present at
councils of war. Since the arrival
of your legions from Egypt - by sea,
at her command - Mark Antony's
generals have not once met with him
except in the presence of Egypt's
Queen. Am I now to face the
greatest army ever to carry your
battle standard - an army
equipped and fed by Egypt's
Queen - to order 20,000 of
them dragged out to fight at
sea, while the rest stand on
the hilltops and cheer - at the
command of Mark Antony?
There is a pause. Antony struggles to control his rage.
(slowly, tight with
'Egypt's Queen' has a name. She
may be referred to - by those worthy
of the privilege - as 'Queen
Cleopatra'. Or - as 'Her Majesty'.
If her name - in any form - passes
your lips again, Canidius, I will
(he takes a deep
swallow of drink)
Enobarbus - you - and Rufio. Three
men to whom I would have entrusted
my life, at any time. Enobarbus,
as you know, has gone over to
Octavian. Why don't you follow
him? Octavian will welcome you
with great honors, great riches -
and female-free councils of war
that stink of masculinity! If
you like, crawl safely to Octavian!
Go, if you like!
move. Antony turns
You - Rufio! Your chance to
serve another Caesar - take it!
(Rufio, hurt almost
to tears, turns away
Any of you - all of you!
There is no move. Ramos speaks up quietly:
I would consider it an honor
to fight beside Lord Antony -
at any time, anywhere...
Spoken like a Roman, Ramos...
(he finishes his
goblet, holds it
out to be refilled)
And you shall fight at my side.
In Rufio's place. Rufio, you
will remain with Her Majesty
aboard her vessel...
As you command.
Canidius, you will remain with
the land forces cheering from
a hilltop, if you like...
As you command.
Exactly. As I command. You
are all dismissed.
Without another glance at them, he crosses to sprawl on a seat. The men leave. Cleopatra and Antony are alone. She crosses to him and smiles proudly...
There never was - there never
will be - a commander of men to
equal Mark Antony...
Shall we drink to that..?
Without looking at her, he drinks...
Will they do as you say?
To the letter. As if my wishes
were theirs. Like the rest of
humanity, an army cannot exist
without a chain-of-obedience.
The least powerful is told by
the next most powerful - who
is told by the next most powerful -
and so on up -
(he looks at her now)
to the all powerful. You.
We. They do as we think best...
You. I never wanted war with
Octavian. I wanted peace with
you. But I made your wish mine.
Not wanting it, I could still
understand it. But now - to
risk fighting him at sea when
we are certain to defeat him
on land - it is my feeling
neither one of us thinks it
best. Nor I cannot understand
why you insist. But since you
must have it so - it will be so.
The chain-of-obedience being what
it is - and I being what I have
He finishes off his goblet and rises...
Nor do I understand. Just now -
as I stood here and listened -
everything you said and did -
- was everything you would have
wanted said and done. For my
part - such as it is - Euphranor
is right. And Canidius. And -
Rufio...did you see his look
when he turned away from me..?
He reaches for more wine but thinks better of it...
But it was just last night - that
you agreed with me! That we have
Octavian's army pinned against the
sea! That to destroy his fleet -
his possible escape - first, and
then his army - would mean total,
final victory! You agreed with me!
[Many viewers have wondered why Cleopatra insisted upon fighting this battle on water, when it was a given that it would be won on land. Here is our answer. With this explanation not given to us in the final cut of the film, the reason for Actium being fought on water is left, unanswered, in the air. Given the amount of story Mankiewicz was forced to delete, and thanks to skillful editing, we are able to ascertain, or, at least surmise, the reasons and motivations for many events. However, for us to get these points, we must, at times, hang on to every word being spoken. In this instance, as with the sequences involving Titus the money lender, and, later, Rufio's death, there doesn't seem to be a single word left to answer our "why"?]
Last night! And the nights that
went before - and tonight, if it
pleases you - in your arms I would
agree that we could walk, hand in
hand, across the Bay of Actium...
So once more, it seems, I am
charged with witchcraft.
Apparently, however, you
suffer from it only after
(shakes his head)
I live for the night. My only
complaint is that day insists
upon breaking in on it...
He starts out. Cleopatra, in sudden emotion:
What has happened - ?
To me - ? You have happened to me
He continues out. Cleopatra, alone, looks after him - concerned and confused by many emotions. She forces her attention to the business at hand. She crosses to the topo table, staring down at the tiny ships. She studies them for an instant and finds Octavian's flagship. She lights one of a bunch of tapers from a nearby brazier and touches Octavian's ship with it. It flares up and the scene dissolves to Agrippa's galley among the Roman fleet. Inside his flagship we see a work-table covered with a map showing the disposition of the forces at Actium. At the work-table is Agrippa - Octavian stands a bit to one side. Agrippa is staring down at a wax tablet - trying to reconcile it with the battle array on the map...
I can't understand it. Euphranor
is no fool...
If - let us say that Euphranor has
gone mad or been persuaded against
his better judgment - they do
attack as indicated, are you
quite sure of victory?
As surely as the sun crosses the
heavens - we can win as we please.
But - my Lord Caesar, may I speak
If it does not displease me...
What I find most difficult to
believe is - the decision to fight
us at sea. Why would they?
You know that as well as I - and
the rest of the world. Queen
Cleopatra wants the battle
fought at sea...
On land, they would win...
You begin to displease me -
Antony knows that - as you, and
I, and the world knows it! On
land, he would win! Why does
he fight at sea?
Because Cleopatra wants it so...
Is that enough? Are the wants
of a woman - even Cleopatra -
enough to make a man change
wrong, as he has always known
it, into right?
There are such men...
Then Cleopatra must be a fool...
Whatever else she is - which is
everything a woman can be -
Cleopatra is not a fool...
Then she must know that Antony's
way - on land - will lead to
victory. Why must she have her
She is probably convinced that,
either way, Antony will win.
This makes her wrong - but not
(He begins to nibble
at a platter of food)
Let victory come by Cleopatra's
way - at her insistence upon her
way - and the future world will
be hers. And Antony - will have
been the means to the end. But
let Antony be victorious his
way - then her future becomes...
in Antony's world, she will be
what? The Great Antony's -
queen. Cleopatra might find that
increasingly - temporary, even.
Antony has a way of letting
queens slip through his fingers -
of dropping the old as he
reaches for the new...
An aide enters, carrying another wax tablet - for Octavian. He presents it and leaves...
(shakes his head - sits)
Well...I can speak only of what
I know. And I know that no man
who has ever fought at sea -
least of all a canny pirate
like Euphranor - would consider
this battle plan...
Very true. It seems the plan
is Antony's own...
(He tosses the tablet
on the table)
Euphranor has been removed from
his command. Antony, himself,
will lead his ships. At dawn
Agrippa stares at the tablet and exhales through pursed lips...
I have never been a devout man.
I can hardly believe that the
Gods favor me so...
They know that you fight in
It won't even be fighting, more
like trapping - a bull. He plans
to come straight for your ship -
and you - does he..? To break
through - very simple. Just as
he would on land - we'll let
you through, Lord Antony, we'll
let you through...
The cabin lurches suddenly - Octavian grabs the table...
What was that - ?
(lost in his work)
A little wave. He'll expect us
to hold on both flanks - that's
what we'd do on land - while he
opens the center - but we won't
be on land, Lord Antony. No...
we won't hold at all...
The cabin lurches again...
Is there a storm coming up..?
(not looking at him)
Another little wave. We'll fall
back before you - our ships are
smaller, faster - just out of
range of your ballistas and
fire - we'll let you through
in the center, deeper and
Octavian pushes aside the food and crosses to sit on a chair - upright. Agrippa becomes increasingly happy as he works - then starts to chuckle. The scene dissolves to Cleopatra's barge. For the first time, we see it converted to the command vessel of her fleet. The topo table, and all of the other devices of command are in evidence, but unmanned. There are some guards at their stations. Eiras stands to one side. Apollodorus and Ramos to another, watching over Cleopatra, her face set and strained. She paces slowly by herself, a cloak pulled about her against the damp air. She pauses suddenly, listens alertly:
Is that the sound of oars - ?
The creaking of a ship, your
She continues pacing. As she draws abreast of Eiras, Eiras yawns suddenly. She turns away in embarrassment. Cleopatra smiles a little...
Eiras - you needn't wait up...
How many hours until dawn?
Between four and five, I think...
Lord Antony has always had - so
little sense of time...
She moves away again. Charmian come up from below. Concerned, she hurries to Cleopatra - who turns to her expectantly:
Is she ready - ?
The High Priestess - cannot come
to the temple, your Majesty...
She seems to be - ill. Very ill...
Did you tell her I wanted her
It was like - speaking to stone.
She cannot hear -
She'll hear me -
Not even the High Priest!
He spoke to her...
What did she say?
Nor can she talk. She sits
staring out - at nothing. I
touched her cheek. It was cold
and without life - like marble...
Something has been revealed to
her. A sight so terrifying that
she cannot look upon anything
else. So terrifying that she
cannot speak of it - and cannot
hear the voices of those who
would want to know...
She starts in. Charmian moves, as if to follow. Cleopatra shakes her head.
Wait here, with Eiras.
Cleopatra descends the passage leading to her apartment. Two guards are on duty. She dismisses them with a gesture. She hesitates, then goes toward the Temple of Isis. She approaches slowly, with some apprehension. Except for the fire which burns low in the pit, there is little other illumination. She enters the temple, makes an obeisance to Isis. She then turns to kneel on the cushion before the fire. Staring down into it, calling upon the powers she has believed in and trusted, she prepares herself for the image of what the morrow will bring...
Great Isis of a thousand names,
You that are, have been and shall be,
within whom time itself exists -
so that past and present and future
are as one-
The fire burns, the fire burns.
Grant that I, whose form you take
upon this earth, shall see -
The fire flares - it sputters into vari-colored flames. Cleopatra stares into it...
Help me to see - help me...
The fire remains - fire...
I cannot see...help me - I
Only the sound of flames. Suddenly - from behind her, the sound of a low, amused, feminine chuckle. Startled, Cleopatra turns.
We see the face of the statue of Isis, with shadows of the fire dancing behind it. Her gaze seems strangely, sardonically amused. But, there is no more laughter from her. Back to Cleopatra - about to turn to the fire once more. Suddenly - from one of the animal headed gods at the side - the sound of a high, amused, male chuckle. She turns to it. We see the face of the animal god - the same shadow effect behind it, with the same sardonic look of amusement. But the chuckle now seems to come from the other side - this time, mingled with the feminine chuckle. Back to Cleopatra, frightened, and with growing fear - as one after another, in varying tones and pitches, the animal gods seem to chuckle tauntingly at her. Desperately, she turns from one to the other as the laughter mounts - with Isis' laugh always predominant. We now see various faces of the gods, singly, and in groups, mocking Cleopatra - as their laughing builds, and the flames mount in the pit. In terror, Cleopatra presses her hands to her ears and rises to her feet. Suddenly and sharply - the flames go out. Cleopatra is in darkness. The laughter has reached its climax. Cleopatra tries to scream - but cannot. [This is the final "incantation". The one to which the others have been leading us. The first incantation gave us only a hint about "winds of destiny". The second one offered something more precise - "a son would be born" to Cleopatra, and "Rome would know him in cloth of gold." The third incantation allowed us to see what Cleopatra and the High Priestess actually saw when they looked into the flames - they, and we, saw events as they happened. Now, with the final incantation, the gods and goddesses themselves, communicate their sarcastic amusement to us and Cleopatra! With their abrupt stop to the mocking, and the fire snuffing itself out, they have turned their backs on her. This would also have been the first time we would have seen fear, even terror, from Cleopatra. To this point, we have seen her as confident of herself and her ambition, and as a cunning strategist. Now, her gods have deserted her, and she knows the future will be as dark as the temple without its fire.]
Then, as if from a distance at first, cutting through the laughter:
Your Majesty! Your Majesty!
The laughter cuts off abruptly. Cleopatra closes her eyes. Then opens them again. Rufio, Apollodorus, and Ramos can be dimly made out, worriedly looking at her. She returns their look, impassively...
Word of Lord Antony...
Have you found him?
Where he can be found. I'll
take a few staff officers -
Not his officers. Nor his men.
They mustn't know. We'll go
after him ourselves...
Apollodorus had become conscious of the dark, smoking, pit in the temple. He indicates it...
The temple fire is out...
I'll send one of the priests,
at once, to light it again.
Leave is as it is. Dead...
she leads the men out of the apartment. The scene dissolves to the dock
area of Actium.