Reviews written by registered user
|4 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have not read the book of Zorba, which I may do in order to find out
if the book has any messages and actually says anything more than the
film does. I assume, and hope, that it does. I was very relieved, on
reading the last few of the previous reviews here, to find that some
other viewers found the film depressing, misogynistic and unpleasant.
I agree, as another reviewer suggested, that it's most likely the soundtrack which made this a popular film. Or at least I hope that it is. I did not think I had a very high opinion of human nature, but my opinion will have to be lowered even further if it's true that huge numbers of people actually enjoyed a film in which the two female characters are reviled, made fun of, and either murdered or have to see their house being looted around them as they die.
Female sexuality in this film is treated as a either a pathetic joke or a threat. Even though Zorba is kind to the older woman as she dies, for the rest of the film he treats her like dirt. He humors her while she's awake (and thus presumably able to give him sexual favors), but when she falls asleep he calls her a dirty b***h and mocks her. After the young widow is murdered, Zorba asks "Why do the young die?" as if she had just died some natural death, instead of being murdered by the entire village. When the Englishman says that his books talk about the suffering of men who ask questions like Zorba's, Zorba answers "I spit on their suffering." That, it seems, is what the whole film is doing -- showing immense suffering and cruelty, but then saying that the only thing to do in the face of that suffering is to dance -- rather than trying to do something to stop the cruelty.
The one character in the film who seems to have a sensible, human reaction to the horror around them is the apparent "village idiot", who screams at the villagers "murderers! Killers!" Perhaps that is the point here, that the supposedly sane people are hideous murderers, and only the "idiot" can see how psychotic the rest of the world is.
If that is the intended point, it's an interesting one. But I can't tell if the filmmakers were actually trying to make that point, or if they think it's all right to go through life despising everyone around you, never trying to help anyone, and dancing.
I am not an expert on Alexander or his time period, which definitely
helped me to enjoy the movie, as I was not approaching it with
strongly-held opinions on what should or should not be said, or how
they should depict the characters.
On the whole, I enjoyed the film -- a lot more than I had thought I would, especially from seeing the trailers for it, which made it look a great deal cheesier than it actually was.
I enjoyed the acting; I thought Colin really was very good, and on the whole the various characters seemed to be real people, unlike in "Troy" in which they are moving cardboard cutouts. It was splendid to see Alexander and Hephaiston's relationship treated as something which could actually be talked about and made part of the film without having to conceal it or have it only be talked about by fan fiction writers! (Nothing wrong with fanatic, I do it myself -- it's just nice to see such a relationship actually acknowledged in the film itself!) I agree with various other revisers that it would have been nice to see A. & H. actually kiss, and the smoldering slave boy was a bit annoying, how he always stood around hotly brooding -- but on the whole, it was awesome to see a protagonist who can be gay or bi without it detracting from his heroism.
I skimmed through an Encyclopedia Britannica article on Alexander after seeing the film, and saw there several incidents in his life that it seems would have been better included in the film than some of those that were included. I think it really would have been awesome to include the sequence where he goes to the site of Troy, makes sacrifices at the shrines of the Homeric heroes there, and takes what was supposedly Achilles's shield. I know they referred several times to his interest in Achilles & the Homeric legends, but I think that sequence of him going to Troy would have really given that element a lot more impact. And I definitely think there should have been more treatment given to what Phillip (Alexander's father)'s goals and dreams of conquest were, since they kept making the point that Alexander's dreams and goals were different from his father's.
It also would have helped a lot, I think, to know more about what his followers, particularly the officers who were with him from the beginning, thought about the whole thing -- what they thought they were doing, what their goals were, why they were following Alexander. I would have liked to know why Hephaiston was there, too, in his mind -- whether he just went along because he loved Alexander, or whether he had his own dreams about Hellenistic domination or conquering the Persians or exploring beyond the borders of the known world, or what.
All that said, yes, there were lots of things that I think could have been done better or more insightfully, but on the other hand, it was excellently watchable, and actually had intelligence and ambivalence and subtleties, unlike most of these epics. I'm very glad I saw it. (I do wish we'd seen more of Alexander and Hephaiston, but hey, we can't have everything!)
Sean Bean and Richard Sharpe are in top form here. The film is gritty, it gives Sharpe some of his classic "I'm going to make soldiers out of you" speeches, the supporting characters among the Riflemen have a lot to do, and there are some fairly hard-hitting, realistic looks at politics, war, and the "Irish Troubles" along the way. Plus Sharpe does not end up bedding every woman in sight, which is a lot closer to the books than some of the other Sharpe films which end up making Sharpe a Napoleonic era James Bond who sleeps with every woman within 1000 miles. The Sharpe films are very variable, and some of them are lot weaker and cheesier than others. This one is one of the good ones.
If you're at all interested in pirates, pirate movies, New Orleans/early 19th century American history, or Yul Brynner, see this film for yourself and make up your own mind about it. Don't be put off by various lacklustre reviews. My reaction to it was that it is entertaining, well acted (for the most part), has some very witty dialogue, and that it does an excellent job of portraying the charm, appeal and legendary fascination of the privateer Jean Lafitte. While not all the events in the film are historically accurate (can you show me any historical film that succeeds in this?), I feel the film is accurate in its treatment of the role Lafitte played in New Orleans' history, and the love-hate relationship between the "respectable" citizens of New Orleans and this outlaw who was one of the city's favorite sons. Don't worry about what the film doesn't do, but watch it for what it does do, i.e., for its study of one of New Orleans', and America's, most intriguing historical figures.