1 Cleopatra (1963)
I had a professor in college who once called this movie “four hours of sensuous boredom.” That may be true, but this is still four hours worth spending.
First of all, this movie is a part of a unique moment in film history. In the ’60’s, Hollywood was afraid because of the rise of television. In response, they started making films big. This is the era that brought us David Lean’s films (Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago) as well as Ben Hur and The 10 Commandments. Cleopatra fits right in with these films.
Second of all, this is the film that introduced to the world the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton affair. This affair has earned a place in American culture and even defined the way we think about the historical Marc Antony and Cleopatra.
I remember ten years ago when Iran qualified for the World Cup. This film tells the story of women who dared to attend the soccer match in which the Iranian soccer team won that spot.
In Iran, one of the many restrictions placed on women is that they are unable to attend sporting events. The director made this film after his own daughter sneaked into a soccer match. This is not a true story, but does showcase the restrictions many women face in the Middle East, and the women who fight against them.
3 Where Are My Children?
I am so excited to introduce this film. It was not easy to track it down, but it is so worth it. This is a silent film, written by a woman, about contraception and abortion. These subjects would quickly become taboo in films with the passing of the Hayes code. However, it would be a mistake to view this film in a modern lens. The film draws heavily on the prominent eugenics of the turn of the century. The film judges abortion and birth control based on the woman using them. If she is rich and white, then she should have a large family. If she is a poor woman of color, then she should definitely not have children.
It is a remarkable document of film history as well as the history of reproductive history and eugenics at the turn of the century. Track it down; it is well worth your time.