Netflix’s “Queen Cleopatra” has been a controversial movie from the moment its cast was announced. The miniseries, which caused Netflix to get sued by Egyptian lawyers, has since received some of the most abysmal reviews in the history of audience rankings.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Queen Cleopatra” received a horrendous 11% rating for its critics score. Even worse, the Audience score checks in at just 2% at the time of this article. Will from The American Tribune explained the issue that many fans, and some entire countries, have taken with the film, writing:
Despite that, Jada Smith made a documentary for Netflix called “African Queens: Queen Cleopatra” in which she is Cleopatra. That means Cleopatra is presented as being black in the movie, a patently false representation of classical history.
The Egyptian government is furious about that falsification of its history. In a statement released by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Egypt, it accused Netflix of “falsifying Egyptian history” by presenting Cleopatra as black in the documentary.
In fact, the statement called the pseudo-documentary “a falsification of Egyptian history and a blatant historical misconception,” saying, “The film is classified as a documentary and not a drama, the order that the owners of its industry have to investigate accuracy and refer to historical and scientific facts in order to ensure that the history and civilizations of peoples is not falsified.”
Series creator Tina Gharvi penned an article for Variety defending her decision to cast Cleopatra as a black woman. She wrote:
Why shouldn’t Cleopatra be a melanated sister? And why do some people need Cleopatra to be white? Her proximity to whiteness seems to give her value, and for some Egyptians it seems to really matter.
After much hang-wringing and countless auditions, we found in Adele James an actor who could convey not only Cleopatra’s beauty, but also her strength. What the historians can confirm is that it is more likely that Cleopatra looked like Adele than Elizabeth Taylor ever did.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Anne Brodie gave this review of the show:
“Re-enactments, mostly florid, are brought back to earth with excellent background provided by experts. It’s stunning how much is known about the Queen, hers was an extraordinary life, but much of what we know thanks to Hollywood is pure rot.”
That idea seems to be the consensus amongst fans and critics that have reviewed “Queen Cleopatra” on Rotten Tomatoes. Many are upset and concerned by the blatant disregard for the truth, especially when it deals with a subject to which many researchers have devoted their lives.
According to the Trivia section of IMDB, this is the reason that the show was originally sued by an Egyptian attorney:
Egyptian lawyer sues Netflix for casting Black woman as Cleopatra. The Egyptian Lawyer Mahmoud al-Semary filed the lawsuit with a public prosecutor with the intention of having Netflix banned in Egypt for what he claimed was a distortion of history. Al-Semary claimed that the Netflix documentary distorts Egypt’s history in favor of promoting Afrocentrism. He also complained of warped standards, stating in the lawsuit that “most of what Netflix platform displays do not conform to Islamic and societal values and principles, especially Egyptian ones.”
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