Gail Gadot as Cleopatra is a step back for the Hollywood release of the film

CLeopatra is once again taking on the big screen treatment, this time courtesy of Wonder Woman director Patti Jenkins and the DC heroine herself, Gail Gadot. But even with a female director and female screenwriter in Ladeta Klagridis, the role of an Israeli actor with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage as Egypt’s legendary queen has not led to an absolute discussion of Hollywood’s whitewashing.

In recent years, historians such as Hilk Thuer of the Austrian Academy of Sciences have questioned the long-held belief that Cleopatra VII was white. Scholars agree that there is no doubt that Cleo was a Macedonian-Greek next to her father Ptolemy XII, possibly Persian or even Syrian, but the fact that her mother’s ethnic origins are unreliable reinforces the idea that the Egyptian ruler had a mixed heritage. “Cleopatra’s mother has been suggested to be from a family of priests in Memphis,” Betsy M. Bryan, a professor of Egyptian art and archeology at Jots Hopkins University, told Newsweek. “If this were the case, Cleopatra could be at least 50% Egyptian in origin.”

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 blockbuster Cleopatra.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 blockbuster Cleopatra. Photograph: Allstar / 20th Century Fox

With that in mind, Gadot’s critique of casting is understandable. The film industry has long had a frustrating habit of white washing history, and movies about Cleopatra – thanks to white actors such as Elizabeth Taylor, Hildegard Neil, Claudette Colbert and Vivian Laye – have cemented her western appearance on screen. Gadot continues this trend in the role, but it’s not as clear.

The actor ticks the box for the release of Middle East and North Africa (MENA), so it’s not as much of a Western choice as Angelina Jolie or Lady Gaga would have been – both of which were previously associated with the role. But it still perpetuates the white standard of foreignness. The situation is similar to Naomi Scott, an actor of mixed English and Indian descent who played Jasmine in the current lad Laddin remake. Scott is simply “other” enough that the filmmakers couldn’t be accused of whitewashing (although it’s not yet clear what Disney’s Oriental fantasy means to a population), but he’s still an example of the cultural adventure that continues. Prejudice towards light-skinned minorities who adhere to Western aesthetics.

If Hollywood has not frequently used the field as a simple background for white-field actors, it is not a tough shot to swallow for the North African diaspora. From The Ten Commandments to Star Wars, English Patient to the Red Sea Diving Resort, and almost every movie of the Mummy franchise, North Africa is either sidelined, underwritten, negatively portrayed, or erased in the middle. Come and – especially – for Champion White. Savior.

Sophie Oknedo and Ralph Finance as Antony and Cleopatra in the 2018 production of Shakespeare's play National Theater.

Sophie O’Connor and Ralph Finance as Antony and Cleopatra in the 2018 production of Shakespeare’s play National Theater. Photograph: PR Company Handout

One can only guess that Gadot’s version of Cleopatra would show the courage of a more subtle variety rather than ego than her Wonder Woman; But where are the chances that he won’t fall into the trap of white terrorism, if cast, with Egyptian and North African artists only present to further his story? It is an unfortunate coincidence that Gadot will now be seen in Death the Nile, a film with an Egyptian setting that, like its 1978 predecessor, failed to include any North African actors in the main cast – and another example of how cinema Is colonizing foreign territories for its own white-centered purpose.

All this is happening in view of the recent steps taken to diversify the historical narrative on the screen. Dev Patel played the role of David Copperfield, arranging new achievements through the selection of Armando Inucci’s Multicultural Dickens Adaptation. Soon Constance Wu and ડે P Derasi will play a romantic lead in the English-set’s 19th-century comedy Mr. Malcolm’s list. Actor Sophie O’Connor played the role of Egypt’s tragic queen in the national theater production of Anthony and Cleopatra in 2018.

Gail Gadot has proven himself that “no one” can be a lister when given the opportunity to play a huge role. So, given what we now understand about the Queen of Egypt, and the ongoing fight for better representation for ethnic minorities, it seems like a missed opportunity that Cleopatra’s next appearance will be more representative of Hollywood’s past than the present of North Africa.