Alexander Revisited Review
Oliver Stone’s original theatrical cut of Alexander was not exactly received, either by the critics or the public, with roars of approbation. So naturally, in an attempt to prove us all wrong, he has produced a director’s cut that, because it is very long and has elephants in it, must therefore be some sort of epic masterpiece. Well, colour me sceptical, but like many of Stone’s films (cough World Trade Centre cough) Alexander is bombastic, brash and ultimately irritating, and the addition of forty five minutes of footage is not a plus point.
So. Young Alexander (Farrell, sporting unconvincingly guinea gold hair) has been bought up by his barbarian mother (Jolie, with bizarre Bond girl accent), trained to despise his drunken, one-eyed father, King Philip (Kilmer, chewing the scenery), but Alexander himself is torn between the Greek ideal of masculinity and his mother’s loving, though peculiar, brand of affection. Having beaten the Persian King Darius, once Philip is dead, Alexander and his armies sally forth into Asia Minor where they proceed to kick the crap out of anyone who stands in their way. But they are not mere imperialists. They come with a sword in one hand and a scroll in the other. Alexandrias are built as centres of learning, democracy introduced; barbarian wives (and lovers) taken. Indeed Alexander, though in need of an heir, is very free with his favours, sharing his bed with childhood friend Hephaistion (Leto), wife (Dawson) and devoted effeminate slave boy Bagoas (Francisco Bosch). But eventually Alexander’s ambition proves his undoing, and in India he and his men succumb to the heat and humidity and go a bit mental. As was ever the fate of white men in the East…
Apart from the big set pieces Alexander is extremely muddled. A much more successful attempt to explore the ancient world is HBO’s Rome; Alexander, despite its 3 hours plus running time never succeeds in transporting us too another time, and for this I blame Stone and his casting choices: Farell is utterly unbelievable as the precocious empire builder, while the bevy of pretty young men with whom he is surrounded work ok in Greece, but are much less convincing as battle-hardened warriors, while Angelina Jolie seems to have strayed in from another set. The time line is all over the place, jumping backwards and forwards with little respect for narrative clarity.
And then there’s the whole issue of Alexander’s sexuality; given to understand that, in Greek culture, there is no greater love than that between two men, why are we not therefore allowed to see anything more than a few bloodless kisses, while we get a good ten minutes of Rosario Dawson heaving around naked?
But this is by the by; in the end, I couldn’t wait for Alexander to die so that it would all be over. Rent Rome instead.
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