“Controversy Surrounds Gal Gadot’s Casting as Cleopatra: Exploring Public Reaction”

There is no certainty whether Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in December, but that is not stopping Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot from collaborating on a new biopic about Cleopatra. This will be the first movie about Cleopatra directed by women, with Jenkins at the helm and Laeta Kalgoridis as the writer. Although there have been famous portrayals of Cleopatra in film, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s 1963 epic, and Angelina Jolie’s stalled project, portraying the Egyptian queen has always been a challenging subject in the history of cinema. Best wishes to Jenkins and Gadot as they take on this difficult task.

The recent announcement of Gal Gadot being cast as Cleopatra has received some criticism from certain individuals. Some argue that this is an example of whitewashing since Gadot is Israeli and Cleopatra’s ethnicity is uncertain. Historical evidence shows that Cleopatra had a distinctive nose and jawline, but these features may have been exaggerated to project an image of strength and to reinforce her connection with her people. Nevertheless, it is unclear what Cleopatra truly looked like, and most of her subjects would not have seen her in person to know any better.

She belongs to the Ptolemaic lineage, which has Macedonian-Greek origins, and her lineage remains uncertain. Although her father is Ptolemy XII, her mother is speculated to be Cleopatra V, as she is the only confirmed wife of Ptolemy XII. However, there isn’t any conclusive evidence to support this theory. Even historians from ancient times have conflicting opinions on her, with Plutarch describing her as “not entirely incomparable,” whereas Cassius Dio hails her as “a woman of exceptional beauty.”

It is undeniable that Cleopatra did not belong to the typical Egyptian heritage of today. During the Ptolemaic dynasty, the ruling pharaohs embraced Hellenistic culture and made Greek the official language of Egypt. They even intermarried within their own Hellenistic lineage, which makes it likely that Cleopatra was also a descendant of inbred Greeks.

Instead of debating who should play Cleopatra, why don’t we question why there hasn’t been a feature film about Nefertiti, another beautiful Egyptian queen who reigned during a turbulent period. Nefertiti and Akhenaten attempted to overthrow the Egyptian gods, causing uproar and revolts. King Tut was even her stepson. I strongly believe that our obsession with Cleopatra is only due to Shakespeare. If he had written a tragedy about Nefertiti, there would likely be multiple movies about her by now.

The topic of religious reform and popular uprisings was a sensitive issue during Shakespeare’s time. As a result, he chose to address the downfall of a powerful queen due to marriage, which subtly supported Elizabeth I’s decision to remain single. In the present day, there is controversy surrounding Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Cleopatra, and I am still eagerly awaiting a biopic on Hedy Lamarr. This situation seems reflective of the year 2020 in which no one is fully satisfied with the outcome.

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