Egypt is not happy how Netflix has decided to portray their former queen Cleopatra. A lawyer from Egypt has sued the OTT platform seeking that their streaming services be banned in the country where Cleopatra ruled as the country’s last active ruler from 51 to 30 BC.
In the latest documentary Queen Cleopatra, which is set to be released on 10 May, Netflix chose to cast British actress Adele James to play the queen known especially known for her antiquity, the prototype of the romantic femme fatale, and for her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
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.
See the trailer here
The Egyptian lawyer has said that Netflix is misappropriating Egyptian history by distorting it by favouring the promotion of Afrocentricism. Al-Semary also noted warped standards in the documentary’s trailer that was released a week ago.
He complained that “most of what Netflix platform displays do not conform to Islamic and societal values and principles, especially Egyptian ones.”
He added that “in order to preserve the Egyptian national and cultural identity among Egyptians all over the world, there must be pride in the makings of such work.”
Al-Semary is not the only person who has objected a to a ‘black’ woman being cast as Cleopatra.
Others complained of the casting decisions made for the documentary, with Egypt’s former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass saying that the depiction of Cleopatra “is completely fake. Cleopatra was Greek, meaning that she was blonde, not Black.”
Controversy around Queen Cleopatra casting
“We don’t often get to see or hear stories about black queens, and that was really important for me, as well as for my daughter, and just for my community to be able to know those stories because there are tons of them!” Netflix said, according to the BBC.
The role of Cleopatra was originally meant to be played by Israeli actress of Wonder Woman fame, Gal Gadot. However, there was a significant public backlash surrounding the choice, and Netflix was accused of white-washing the historical figure.
The decision resulted in campaigns for Cleopatra to be recast and played by an Arab or African actress, despite the fact that she was Macedonian.
“First of all if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian,” Gal Gadot told the BBC.
“We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn’t there, and I was very passionate about Cleopatra.”
She added, “I have friends from across the globe, whether they’re Muslims or Christian or Catholic or atheist or Buddhist, or Jewish of course… People are people, and with me, I want to celebrate the legacy of Cleopatra and honor this amazing historic icon that I admire so much.”
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