Lost Media Archive

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Theda Bara "Cleopatra" (1917) surviving footage.flv

The surviving 20 seconds.

One of Bara's "risqué" outfits; her vulva is almost completely visible.

Cleopatra is a 1917 silent film starring Theda Bara. It is one of her many lost films (only 4 from her prolific film career in the silent era are still known to exist). Of this reportedly 2 and a half hour long film, only 20 seconds survive.

Many claim the film to be one of the most elaborate and expensive of its time. Without any remaining footage, nobody can really know for sure. The film is infamous for Bara's risqué, nearly nude outfits (some claim that her privates were exposed several times throughout the movie). This caused the film to be labeled as "obscene" and church organizations all tried obtaining copies of the film to destroy them. Historians and collectors scrambled to save as many copies as they could. The last known few copies of the film were destroyed (like many classic films of the silent era) in a studio vault fire in the 1930s and the film has never been seen since.

Aside from the aforementioned 20 second fragment, no known surviving footage from the film exists. The film was called one of the best and most daring roles Bara took on. Bara was proud of her performance and really liked being able to show off her body. Just like the 1922 Stroheim Director's Cut of Greed, this is viewed as another "holy grail" amongst movie collectors.