Conquering 90% of the known world by the age of 25, Alexander the Great led his armies through 22,000 miles of sieges and conquests in just eight years. Coming out of tiny Macedonia (today part of Greece), Alexander led his armies against the mighty Persian Empire, drove west to Egypt, and finally made his way east to India. This film will concentrate on those eight years of battles, as well as his relationship with his boyhood friend and battle mate, Hephaestion. Alexander died young, of illness, at 33. Alexander's conquests paved the way for the spread of Greek culture (facilitating the spread of Christianity centuries later), and removed many of the obstacles that might have prevented the expansion of the Roman Empire. In other words, the world we know today might never have been if not for Alexander's bloody, yet unifying, conquest. Written by
The fact that Olympias is shown to have an affinity for snakes, could be a reference that some ancient authors believed that the god Zeus (or Ammon) appeared to her in the form of a serpent before they conceived Alexander. See more »
Antigonus, portrayed in the film as one of Alexander's childhood friends, was in fact 26 years older than Alexander. See more »
Our world is gone now. Smashed by the wars. Now I am the keeper of his body, embalmed here in the Egyptian ways. I followed him as Pharaoh, and have now ruled 40 years. I am the victor. But what does it all mean when there is not one left to remember - the great cavalry charge at Gaugamela, or the mountains of the Hindu Kush when we crossed a 100,000-man army into India? He was a god, Cadmos. Or as close as anything I've ever seen.
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There is a scene between Alexander and his wife Roxanne in which Alexander violently rips off Roxanne's clothes against her will, she responds by putting a knife to his throat and things are only resolved when Alexander speaks some gentler words and they end up making passionate love.
This, no doubt, is director Oliver Stone's (and his writers) view of Western involvement in the middle East from Alexander through the Crusades to Bush and their hopes for the future. The metaphor (simplistic and unhistorical as it is) may have worked, too had this whole scene not been shot as soft porn which tends to undermine its message.
Much the same could be said of the whole film, an oddly constructed and badly written farrago of ideas, mostly non-historical. A lot has been made of the homoeroticism but that is somewhat more accurate than many other aspects of the film. Alexander is portrayed as the world's first multiculturalist, something which would surprise Arabs who still invoke his name to frighten children even to this day. Stone and his writers are more interested in Alex spouting platitudes about respecting the Persians ancient culture rather than his belief in the superiority of Greece over the barbarians.
Alexander's wife Roxanne, when she is not required to do full frontals, contributes very little to the film apart from a few pouty looks. Since the story is light on females, Alex's mother, played by Angelina Jolie is drafted in, her contribution being to read a few letters written to Alex from Macedonia. It sounds unconvincing, and it is.
Jolie speaks in an odd Russian accent for some unexplained reason and the whole matter of accents in this film is a strange one. The Macedonians are all Irish and the Greeks English. This is surprising but not the worst sin in this film.
The main narrative thread is given to Anthony Hopkins to read in a an unconvincing voice over. This seems more designed to paper over awkward historical facts than to be organically part of the film. The whole thing seems choppily edited and directed with a mishmash of devices used to no artistic purpose. For example: at one point late on, up to that time completely linear (apart from Hopkins narrative), lurches back 8 years to see the murder of Alex's father. After this lengthy interpolation, which would have been better integrated earlier in the film, we lunge back to 'the present' where the remainder continues in linear fashion. A small point, but one among very many which leaves you to ask why the director has made the decisions he has.
Despite all these devices the film is still inordinately long and slow rather like the constant snake imagery used through out (and which is clearly meant to be a metaphor for something. but what?)
It is not surprising, given such a duff script, that the actors are reduced to giving a lot of meaningful looks reminiscent of daytime soap-operas.
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