Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Stone’s Alexander

I saw Alexander last night. Sorry I went. It was simply awful.
You have one of the great characters in history conquering most of the known world and it so happens that Aristotle was his tutor. Does this have possibilities? The boy was brave and thoughtful and unusually ambitious. There are many nations to be be conquered, many acts of heroism, and some of kindness and magnanimity. Sure, there is cruelty and savagery. Show it all, make some distinctions, perhaps even draw some lessons. But to show it as a creepy Freudian thing with his mother, a weird relationship with his father, and then there is the homosexual emphasis and over emphasis....I was hoping the thing would end after an hour. Terrible. Not worth seeing.
Stephen Hunter, writing for the Washington Post says that Oliver Stone’s Alexander "is more like a desperate housewife than a soldier." He thinks it’s a weird movie. He’s right. Stay away.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Maybe "allover" Stone should have tried for a remake of "Platoon" in sandals with spears. Probably would have saved the studio money to.

Anyway, I still prefer the 1955 film,Alesander the Greatwith Richard Burton and Frederick March. And it may be more accurate as opposed to Stone’s version and his previous hysterical,uh pardon, "historical" films.

Funny, I too recently rented the Burton Alex the Great biopic and found it compelling in some ways.

Certainly it has a campy look (like most "sword and sandal" epics from the 50s, when Hollywood was frantically employing widescreen color technologies like PanaVision, CinemaScope, and TechniColor to try and compete against the new threat from TV), but the script tracks Plutarch and some of his sources, such as Diodorus Siculus, quite closely.

The cast is very good. Burton’s a bit over the top as usual, but in ’55 he was still young and fit enough to make a convincingly dynamic Alexander. Frederic March plays Philip II, w/ the French actress Danielle Darrieux as Olympias and IIRC Joseph Cotten as Parmenio. The censorship-era handling of Pausanias and Olympias’s manipulation of his resentment toward Philip is a marvel of subtlety by today’s standards (the scriptwriters couldn’t even MENTION homosexual activity back then, so they had no choice but to fall back on innuendo).

More importantly, in the earlier film there’s at least a stab at conveying the kind of moral insight that you find in Plutarch--something I’m sure Oliver Stone could care less about, assuming he’s even heard of Plutarch.

Should one want to enjoy a truly wonderful, and more than likely at least as accurate as Stone’s disaster, movie about Alexander go purchase the Anime DVD "Reign". Fact & fiction, history & fancy all wrapped up in a compelling story.
Mike Daley

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