Sunday, December 05, 2004


Oliver stone have been bludgeoned and speared by critics over what they say is a colossal failure his film Alexander have been. Another critic even likened it to a B-movie. Ugh, that hurts.

It hurts because this film is somewhat a remarkable achievement. Its scope is epic. The photography, set decoration, costume and music are way above your average films. Even the acting is uniformly good especially Angelina Jolie’s deceiving Olympia and Colin Farrell’s headstrong yet insecure Alexander.

The major flaw is in the narrative. The lapses in editing is forgivable but difficult to overlook that it somehow distracts and gets in the way of cohesive story-telling. The film begins with Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins whose brilliance is less evident in a weak role) retelling to his scribes the exploits of Alexander forty years after his death.

Much of what is in the story have already been told in world history textbooks, Oliver Stone however, takes an extra route and delves into the psyche of the legendary conqueror and present him as a human being: his dreams of conquering the world; his bitter relationship with his mother and father; and the most controversial, his bisexuality.

Oliver Stone’s attempt to capture all these aspects of Alexander’s life and merge it along with his victorious campaigns against the Persian Empire and later on the warriors of India end up being complicated and confusing. It did not help either that Ptolemy would segue into the story and just blurt out condensed events significant to the next scene that the movie would jump into.

The film is not a a big a failure as Troy was. Whereas Troy was made to be commercially accessible and for which it failed; Alexander has all the mark of a great Oliver Stone film. The film was made with the director’s vision and he transformed it into a visually ravishing film (the Hanging Gardens of Babylon is truly magnificent).

Much of the fuss about the film was focused on the depiction of Alexander’s sexuality. To Stone's credit, this alone is enough evidence that he is still very much his own man. The director kept his vision intact and presented the movie the way he wanted to present it and eventually and perhaps unintentionally paralleling what Alexander did in his last campaign in India. As Alexander's vision of conquering the East ended up in failure so is Oliver Stone's

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