Alexander (2004, Director’s Cut)


The legend of Alexander The Great (Colin Farrell, The New World), 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:

“In the end, when it’s over, all that matters is what you’ve done.”

Oliver Stone, who has always been stuck in the politics of the 1960s, sees Alexander The Great 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 — Alexander is an ambitious, but ultimately uneven film.

I was disappointed with Stone’s poorly constructed narrative (the script is credited to Stone, Laeta Kalogridis, Shutter Island, and Christopher Kyle, K-19: The Widowmaker). 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 intriguing ideas.

One particular angle that has caused a lot of talk is Stone’s suggestion that Alexander was bisexual. Stone also tries to convince viewers that Alexander had an incestuous relationship with his mother, Queen Olympias (Angelina Jolie, Girl Interrupted). The main problem is that none of these controversial ideas feel organic — they’re oddities sloppily strung together to raise some eyebrows.

Alexander is 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 leftovers from Animal House‘s toga party. I did like Vangelis’s (Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner) music score.

Furthermore, Colin Farrell isn’t remotely convincing as Alexander. Richard Burton (Robert Rossen’s 1956 epic 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 role is calling for. In good conscience, I can’t completely blame Farrell for giving an erratic performance. The poor man is forced to say some pretty awful lines of dialogue.

Val Kilmer (The Doors), who plays Alexander’s father, King Philip, is not very good either. Jolie’s performance — complete with a Bela Lugosi-like accent — is absurdly over-the-top. 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 called it a misunderstood masterpiece. However, most movie buffs have understandably ridiculed its excesses. In my opinion, Alexander is more of a curiosity than anything else, and it is definitely one of Stone’s lesser films. The movie is available in several versions. Color, 167 minutes, Rated R.

3 responses to “Alexander (2004, Director’s Cut)

  1. I agree. The final cut is the best yet the film just kind of a mess at times. I like Farrell as an actor but he does not make the grade as Alexander. I mean we’re talking Alexander the Great here. My favorite go for broke military legend performance in a movie is Rod Steiger as Napoleon in ‘Waterloo’. I believe him as the character.

    Liked by 1 person

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