There are so many beautiful pieces of work when it comes to Antony & and Cleopatra, but the production that I have decided to talk about is the 1972 production starring Richard Johnson and Janet Suzman. The director did such a good job with piecing Shakespeare’s great masterpiece together and giving the audience a well put together product. Out of everything in the production the main thing that I saw the director emphasis most on was the struggle between reason and emotion within the characters and the defining of what honor meant within the production.
These two things that I’ve mention can be seen through many scenes within the production and can be spotted through the actions of the characters. With these given circumstances, the director adding these two emphasized points help make the production what it is.
From the very being of the production you can sense the tension from many characters brewing as we start with the opening scene.
For instance, when Philo starts to complain to Demetrius that Antony has forgotten and left his military obligations all for the sake of his new profound love in Cleopatra. The criticism that he exercises towards Antony’s foolishness, starts a tension between what the director has emplaced which is the tension between reason and emotion that goes on through the whole movie. The scene then goes on to Antony and Cleopatra having captivating conversation. This scene between these two intensifies the tension going as they argue with one another on whether their love for one another can be put into words.
They also go back and forth with one another on if their love reaches such aptitudes and limitations of reasons.
Throughout the movie Antony’s actions have been question by many Romans. According to the Roman’s and their consent, Antony is seen as this heroic war hero and this very big political man that Caesar and others believed he was. Now all of sudden Antony is now content with dropping all of his work obligation reasons in order to chase his passion which in the movie we it to be Cleopatra. This production is so concerned with the clashing between reason and emotion that it starts to out shine the battle over the triumph over one another, and this battle to me seems to be affecting Antony the most out of all the characters. Antony equivocates between both his western and eastern responsibilities. He feels this war within himself that’s pulling him back and forth between his responsibility to his empire and his desire for love in Cleopatra. Antony’s struggle between reason and emotion is next seen when he uncaringly dismisses Caesar’s messenger, thus letting down his empire and his responsibility to it.
Through out the movie Antony continues to have troubling identities that play out the conflict between reason and emotion. Antony was once this fearless leader that Caesar label as a war hero and somewhat feared at the same time, to now becoming a man who has giving up his military leverage by foolishly allowing Cleopatra to influencing his plan of action. Cleopatras’ manipulation and mind games has caused so much turmoil to Antony this far in the play it has caused Antony’s most noble and loyal people to abandon him. Antony’s reasoning and emotion at this point has fully taken over, and he decides that he wants his honor and identity back, so he takes his own life. In the end Antony is clearly a man who was ruled by desire as much as he was ruled by reason and emotions.
The next thing the director emphasizes in this production is how honor is defined. Throughout the movie the characters define honor in many ways, and frequently in ways that are not so spontaneous. For example, in the movie when Antony prepares to meet Caesar in war he says ‘‘we live or bathe dying honor in the blood, shall make it live again”. Here to me Antony is expressing and linking the notion of honor by attaching it to death. The movie shows both Antony and Cleopatra killing themselves both for different reasons, but in the same sense they are doing it for their honor. Throughout the movie we see that Antony has lost his identity in a since and so by taking his own life he has restored his identity as a true Roman. For Cleopatra her death is to make sure that she stays her realist and most uncompromised self which is not of Roman code. In the end both Antony and Cleopatra protect and lock in their honor my repudiating to negotiate their identities.
To me the story of Antony and Cleopatra is one of the finest pieces of work that Shakespeare has written. The way the director to took his story and created such a thrill shows the enjoyment that people get out of his work. To me the over all impression that the director gave within the movie was that the story of Antony and Cleopatra gives a brilliance of imagery, and the resemblance of reality. The play of Antony and Cleopatra is most definitely Shakespeare’s most layered and more challenging play, but the director of this production most definitely executed.