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New book! 50 movies to start your discovery of Old Hollywood

'Cleopatra': Seconds of lost history

Watch the only seconds of footage that survive from 1917’s “Cleopatra.”

The most expensive movie made at the time, “Cleopatra” was top at the box office thanks to its star Theda Bara, elaborate sets and sexy storyline.

Bara was one of the most popular actresses of the silent movie era and known for her femme fatale roles. Bara isn’t as well known to modern audiences in part because so many of her films have been lost to history.

The last known copies of “Cleopatra,” for instance, burned in fires — one in a studio vault fire in 1937 and another at the Museum of Modern Art in 1958. Sadly, no other footage is known to exist so no one today is able to see the movie in its entirety. “Cleopatra” is among the estimated 75% of silent era films “lost” forever to history.

For more, check out its poster as part of the “Movie Posters from Silent Films” ebook.