r lost a war. By age 30, he had conquered the known world and extended his empire to the far reaches of the earth. But his greatness was just too hard to translate onto film. In the film “Alexander,”
Oliver Stone and Warner Brothers attempt this insurmountable task and, for the most part, fail greatly. Almost all the elements of Alexander’s legend are there – the belief that he was the son of Zeus; his taming of Bucephalus, his great horse; his conquest of the Persian Empire; his entry into Babylon and his quest to leave his mark as the ruler of the greatest empire known to man. The movie attempts to delve into Alexander’s soul to find out what made him such a powerful force.
In some ways it is an attempt to mortalize an immortal, and therein lies its undoing. The film shows Alexander trying to understand and respect every new culture and includes its positive aspects into his own strict Macedonian heritage. Although the movie portrays him as a demi-god, a leader, a conqueror, a lover (of both men and women), a tyrant, a drunk and a barbarian, the movie feels pretentious, self-indulgent and over-excessive. It is also boring and runs an hour too-long.
Alexander’s story is told in flashbacks by Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s generals, now an old man and ruler of Alexandria, but the flashbacks are an ill-conceived device. The movie suffers a great deal because of the confusing editing, mainly during battle scenes where the audience cannot really tell what is happening or which side is winning and why.
It is as if Stone filmed Alexander’s entire life from birth-to-death, and unsure of what to use in his movie, just started cutting away frantically, overemphasizing, downplaying or simply omitting certain aspect of Alexander’s life. He neglects the use of coherence. This is not to say that the film is not visually stunning. Yet Stone, who has always had a flair for the visual, seems more interested in the controversies surrounding Alexander’s life than in its actual facts.
Did Olympus, Alexander’s mother, have Alexander’s father, Philip, murdered? Was Alexander himself murdered by his own men? These questions are not really answered in the end, but by that time you will not care. Val Kilmer plays Philip and Angelina Jolie plays Olympias.
Their acting is awkward and their mere physical presence is not enough to carry the movie. Colin Farrell plays Alexander as a tortured soul, torn between the love he feels for his parents and the hate his parents feel for each other. Farrell always looks in pain, as if the price Alexander pays for greatness is a short life, filled with suffering.
With the success that “Braveheart” and “Gladiator,” two other swordand sandal epics, achieved at the box office and at the Academy awards, it is understandable why a studio wanted to make a grand adaptation of Alexander’s life. The result is a major misfire.
By AUTURO SANDE Staff Writer