review of Oliver Stone's film
saw Alexander last
night having been put off initially by the reviews, and because Oliver Stone
sometimes plays a bit fast and loose with history.
The reason that this
movie got bad reviews is because it is not a "sand and sandal"
Hollywood epic like "Troy" that takes a known story but twists it
for dramatic effect, sanitizes the bits that don't sit well with the bulk of
the audience or the star's image, (Achilles and Patrocolus being lovers,)
and modernises and Americanises the dialogue.
to me to be almost perfect in its uncompromising attention to history and
historical detail. It is really a dramatised historical
documentary with narration by Sir Anthony Hopkins. There
is absolutely no dumbing down. If
you have no idea about Greek myths, tough, because they are not explained. If
you have never heard of Marakanda, Sogdia and
, tough, because they are not called
. If you
can't get on with Greek names, tough. If you can't handle heroes being gay
(or at least preferring men to women), tough. If you can't handle a
historical narrative without the facts being twisted to provide a dramatic
denouement, or worse still, a happy ending, tough!
detail in "Alexander" is flawless. The clothes, uniforms,
equipment and behaviour, even most of the tactics, are perfectly done. A
lot of this isn't explained to the general viewer. Thus
as Alexander goes further east you see him and his solid supporters wearing
make-up and Persians appearing amongst his companions, but the significance
of this would be lost on Joe Average.
Some of the script
writing and direction could have been better, and great historical dialogue
is not used to the best advantage: "Alexander does not steal a
victory" and "If I was Parmenio I would accept that offer
too," are almost throw away lines when they could have been used to
much more dramatic effect.
When they want the
Macedonians to come across as hardy, highland, not very well educated, but
hard bastard types, they have Irish or Scots accents. This
might seem a bit odd (even perhaps offensive to Irish and Scots), but it
worked for me. Having a very hairy Craterus telling Alexander to turn back
in a Scottish burr: "I stand for
nay bellyaching in any o' mah units Alexander, yee know that, but..."
is a really good scene.
There were only two
minor contractions and both were acceptable: the murder of Black Cleiutus
happened before the Indian expedition, not during it, and Alexander did not
get his life threatening wound at Hydaspes but shortly afterwards. The
movie is already nearly three hours long so something has to be cut and
All in all I can
perfectly understand why this movie didn't go down well with the Friday
night teenage crowd, but I think that smart chaps like you will really
appreciate it. It's so sad that
"Braveheart" got Oscars and "Alexander" is getting
Two thumbs up and
four and a half stars!