Alexander (2004, Director’s Cut)

Alexander (2004)


The legend of Alexander The Great, the King of Macedonia and ruler of the world, retold on a grand scale by controversial writer-director Oliver Stone (Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July).

Reaction & Thoughts:

It appears that Stone was intent on doing for Alexander what he did for Nixon. Stone, who has always been stuck in the politics of the 1960s, sees the monarch as the prototype of the modern politician. It’s an interesting approach that is, unfortunately, undermined by a predilection for high camp. Many dramatic scenes verge on the absurd, and the constant scenery chewing of the actors only serves to enhance the film’s odd tone.

I was taken aback by Stone’s poorly constructed narrative (the script is credited to Stone, Laeta Kalogridis and Christopher Kyle). After all, he is essentially a writer who directs, not the other way around. Alexander lacks focus and that’s too bad because the film is not devoid of interesting ideas. One particular angle, which has caused a lot of talk, is Alexander’s alleged bisexuality.

Stone also suggests that Alexander had an incestuous relationship with his mother Queen Olympias (Angelina Jolie, Girl Interrupted). The problem is that none of those ideas feel organic; they’re oddities strung together to raise some eyebrows.

It’s also a surprisingly ugly-looking movie. It’s terribly over-lit by cameraman Rodrigo Prieto (Frida and 21 Grams). The abundance of brightness makes everything look cheap. The costumes look like left overs from Animal House‘s toga party. I did like Vangelis’s (Chariots of Fire) music score.

Colin Farrell (In Bruges) is not convincing as Alexander. Richard Burton (Robert Rossen’s Alexander The Great) wasn’t a good choice either, but at least he had the gravitas to pull it off. Farrell lacks the “oomph factor” the part is calling for.

Val Kilmer (The Doors), who plays Alexander’s father King Philip, is not very good either. Jolie’s performance is so absurdly over the top — complete with a Bela Lugosi-like accent — that I can only hope that it was done on purpose, but why? Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music) comes off best as the wise Aristotle. Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) narrates. The cast also includes Rosario Dawson (Rent), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Velvet Goldmine), and Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Alexander‘s peculiarities have made it a cult favorite among film enthusiasts. Some viewers have even call it a misunderstood masterpiece. Most viewers have understandably ridiculed its excesses. It’s more of a curiosity than anything else, and it is definitely one of Stone’s lesser films. It’s available in several versions. Color, 167 minutes, Rated R.


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