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Alexander is a 2004 epic historical drama film based on the life of the Macedonian general and king Alexander the Great. It was directed by Oliver Stone and starred Colin Farrell. The film's original screenplay derived in part from the book Alexander the Great, published in 1973 by the University of Oxford historian Robin Lane Fox. After release, while it performed well in Europe, the American critical reaction was negative. It grossed over $167 million worldwide against a $155 million budget.

Alexander
AlexanderPoster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byOliver Stone
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onAlexander the Great
by Robin Lane Fox
Starring
Music byVangelis
CinematographyRodrigo Prieto
Edited by
  • Thomas J. Nordberg
  • Yann Hervé
  • Alex Marquez
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • 16 November 2004 (2004-11-16) (Hollywood premiere)
  • 24 November 2004 (2004-11-24) (United States)
  • 23 December 2004 (2004-12-23) (Germany/Netherlands)
  • 5 January 2005 (2005-01-05) (France)
  • 14 January 2005 (2005-01-14) (Italy)
Running time
175 minutes (theatrical cut) [1]
167 minutes (director's cut)
214 minutes (The Final Unrated Cut)
206 minutes (The Ultimate Cut)
Country
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
  • United States[2]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$155 million[3]
Box office$167.3 million[3]

Four versions of the film exist, the initial theatrical cut and three home video director's cuts: the "Director's Cut" in 2005, the "Final Cut" in 2007 and the "Ultimate Cut" in 2013. The two earlier DVD versions of Alexander ("director's cut" version and the theatrical version) sold over 3.5 million copies in the United States.[4] Oliver Stone's third version, Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut (2007), sold nearly a million copies as of 2012.[5]

Contents

PlotEdit

The story begins 40 years after 323 BC, around 283 BC, with Ptolemy I Soter, who narrates throughout the film. Alexander grows up with his mother Olympias and his tutor Aristotle, where he finds interest in love, honor, music, exploration, poetry, and military combat. His relationship with his father is destroyed when Philip marries Attalus's niece, Eurydice. Alexander insults Philip after disowning Attalus as his kinsman, which results in Alexander's banishment from Philip's palace.

After Philip is assassinated, Alexander becomes King of Macedonia. Ptolemy mentions Alexander's punitive campaign in which he razes Thebes, also referring to the later burning of Persepolis, then gives an overview of Alexander's west-Persian campaign, including his declaration as the son of Zeus by the Oracle of Amun at Siwa Oasis, his great battle against the Persian Emperor Darius III in the Battle of Gaugamela, and his eight-year campaign across Asia.

Also shown are Alexander's private relationships with his childhood friend Hephaistion, Bagoas, and later his wife Roxana. Hephaistion compares Alexander to Achilles, to which Alexander replies that Hephaistion must be his Patroclus (Achilles' best friend and lover). When Hephaistion mentions that Patroclus died first, Alexander pledges that, if Hephaistion should die first, he will follow him into the afterlife. Hephaistion shows extensive jealousy when he sees Alexander with Roxana and deep sadness when he marries her, going so far as to attempt to keep her away from him after Alexander murders Cleitus the Black in India.

After initial objection from his soldiers, Alexander convinces them to join him into his final and bloodiest battle, the Battle of Hydaspes. He is severely injured with an arrow but survives and is celebrated. Later on, Hephaistion succumbs to an unknown illness either by chance or perhaps poison, speculated in the movie to be typhus carried with him from India. Alexander, full of grief and anger, distances himself from his wife, despite her pregnancy, believing that she has killed Hephaistion. He dies less than three months after Hephaistion, in the same manner, keeping his promise that he would follow him. On his deathbed, Bagoas grieves as Alexander's generals begin to split up his kingdom and fight over the ownership of his body.

The story then returns to 283 BC, where Ptolemy admits to his scribe that he, along with all the other officers, had indeed poisoned Alexander just to spare themselves from any future conquests or consequences. However, he has it recorded that Alexander died due to illness compounding his overall weakened condition. He then goes on to end his memoirs with praise to Alexander.

The story then ends with the note that Ptolemy's memoirs of Alexander were eventually burned, lost forever with the Library of Alexandria.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

LocationsEdit

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

Alexander was released in 2,445 venues on 24 November 2004 and earned $13,687,087 in its opening weekend, ranking sixth in the North American box office and second among the week's new releases.[6] Upon closing on 1 February 2005, the film grossed $34,297,191 domestically and $133,001,001 overseas for a worldwide total of $167,298,192.[3] Based on a $155 million budget, the film was a box office bomb.[7][8]

ControversiesEdit

A group of 25 Greek lawyers initially threatened to file a lawsuit against both Stone and the Warner Bros film studio for what they claimed was an inaccurate portrayal of history. "We are not saying that we are against gays," said Yannis Varnakos, "but we are saying that the production company should make it clear to the audience that this film is pure fiction and not a true depiction of the life of Alexander”. After an advance screening of the film, the lawyers announced that they would not pursue such a course of action.[9]

At the British premiere of the film, Stone blamed "raging fundamentalism in morality" for the film's US box-office failure.[10] He argued that American critics and audiences had blown the issue of Alexander's sexuality out of proportion.[11] The criticism prompted him to make significant changes to the film for its DVD release, whose cover characterizes them as making it "faster paced, more action-packed".

Criticism by historiansEdit

Alexander attracted critical scrutiny from historians with regard to historical accuracy.[12]

Persian historian Farrokh questioned the omission of the burning of Persepolis by Alexander and observed that, in the movie, "Greek forces are typically shown as very organised, disciplined, and so on, and what's very disturbing is, when the so-called Persians are shown confronting the Macedonians, you see them turbaned. Turbans are not even a Persian item [...] Their armies are totally disorganized. What is not known is that the Persians actually had uniforms. They marched in discipline, and music was actually used..."[13]

Oliver Stone has, in his various commentaries in the film's DVD[citation needed], defended many of the most glaring historical issues in regard to Persian and Indian history by claiming that he had no time or resources to portray accurately a multitude of battles at the expense of storytelling. He goes into great detail explaining how he merged all the major aspects of the Battle of the Granicus and the Battle of Issus into the Battle of Gaugamela, as well as heavily simplifying the Battle of Hydaspes into a straightforward clash, while merging the near-death of Alexander from the siege of Malli.

Criticism by film criticsEdit

The film performed well in Europe, but, in North America, received mostly negative reviews from film critics, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 16% rating based on 203 reviews, with an average rating of 3.9/10. The website's critical consensus states: "Even at nearly three hours long, this ponderous, talky, and emotionally distant biopic fails to illuminate Alexander's life."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[15]

One of the principal complaints among US film critics was that Alexander resembled less an action-drama film than a history documentary. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote in his review, "[W]e welcome the scenes of battle, pomp and circumstance because at least for a time we are free of the endless narration of Ptolemy the historian."[16]

Faint praise came from Daily Variety Magazine, published on 21 November 2004, for which Todd McCarthy wrote, "Oliver Stone's Alexander is at best an honorable failure, an intelligent and ambitious picture that crucially lacks dramatic flair and emotional involvement. Dry and academic where Troy (2004) was vulgar and willfully ahistorical".[17]

NominationsEdit

The film was nominated in six categories at the Golden Raspberry Awards in 2005: Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Colin Farrell), Worst Actress (Angelina Jolie) and Worst Director (Oliver Stone), Worst Supporting Actor (Val Kilmer) and Worst Screenplay, thereby becoming the second-most-nominated potential "Razzie" film of 2004; however, it won no awards.

VersionsEdit

Theatrical cutEdit

This is the film as it was originally released in theaters, with a running time of 175 minutes. It was released on DVD and is also available on Blu-ray in some territories.

Director's cutEdit

Stone's director's cut was re-edited before the DVD release later in 2005. Stone removed seventeen minutes of footage and added nine back. This shortened the running time from 175 minutes to 167.

Alexander Revisited: The Final Unrated CutEdit

Stone also made an extended version of Alexander. "I'm doing a third version on DVD, not theatrical", he said, in an interview with Rope of Silicon. "I'm going to do a Cecil B. DeMille three-hour-45-minute thing; I'm going to go all out, put everything I like in the movie. He [Alexander] was a complicated man, it was a complicated story, and it doesn't hurt to make it longer and let people who loved the film [...] see it more and understand it more."

The extended version was released under the title of Alexander Revisited: The Final Unrated Cut on 27 February 2007. The two-disc set featured a new introduction by Stone. "Over the last two years," he said, "I have been able to sort out some of the unanswered questions about this highly complicated and passionate monarch – questions I failed to answer dramatically enough. This film represents my complete and last version, as it will contain all the essential footage we shot. I don't know how many film-makers have managed to make three versions of the same film, but I have been fortunate to have the opportunity because of the success of video and DVD sales in the world, and I felt, if I didn't do it now, with the energy and memory I still have for the subject, it would never quite be the same again. For me, this is the complete Alexander, the clearest interpretation I can offer."[18]

The film is restructured into two acts with an intermission. Alexander: Revisited takes a more in-depth look at Alexander's life and his relationships with Olympias, Philip, Hephaestion, Roxana and Ptolemy. The film has a running time of three hours and 34 minutes (214 minutes, about 40 minutes longer than the theatrical cut and almost 50 minutes longer than the first director's cut) and is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen with English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio. Beyond the new introduction with Stone, there are no other extras on the DVD except for a free coupon to the movie 300.[19] The Blu-ray and HD-DVD releases both feature a variety of special features however, including two audio commentaries and a new featurette.[20]

For seven years, it was the only version of the film available on Blu-ray, until the release of the Ultimate Cut, which also includes the Theatrical Cut.

Ultimate cutEdit

In November 2012, Stone revealed that he was working on a fourth cut of the film, at Warner's request and that this time around he would remove material, as he felt he had added in too much in the "Final Cut".[21] The version, which is 206 minutes long, premiered on 3 July 2013 at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival[22] and Stone swears that no more versions will follow.[23] In February 2014, Oliver Stone announced on Twitter that 'Alexander the Ultimate Cut (Tenth Anniversary Edition)' would be released in the United States on 3 June 2014. According to Amazon.com, some of its features include:

  • "40-Page Art Book with Concept Drawings, Storyboards and Behind-the-Scenes Photos
  • Collectible packaging
  • Correspondence memos between Oliver Stone and the Cast and Crew
  • New documentary: The Real Alexander and the World He Made
  • The Ultimate Cut commentary by Oliver Stone
  • Original theatrical cut version and commentary
  • Oliver's son Sean Stone's feature-length documentary Fight Against Time: Oliver Stone's Alexander And much more!

SoundtrackEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Alexander (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 19 November 2004. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Alexander". American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Alexander (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. 1 February 2005. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  4. ^ Retrieved from Videobusiness.com
  5. ^ "Words from Oliver Stone: Thank you very... - Alexander: Revisited". Facebook. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for November 26-28, 2004". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. 30 November 2004. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  7. ^ Waxman, S., 2004. Breaking Ground With a Gay Movie Hero. The New York Times, [internet] 20 November. Available at NYtimes.com. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  8. ^ Bowles, S., 2004. Alas, fortune did not favor 'Alexander'. USA Today, [internet] 28 November. Available at USAtoday.com, Accessed 5 January 2010. Archived at Webcitation.org
  9. ^ "Greek lawyers halt Alexander case". BBC News. 3 December 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  10. ^ "Stone blames 'moral fundamentalism' for US box office flop" (Thursday 6 January 2005)
  11. ^ "Stone says Alexander is too complex for 'conventional minds'" (Friday, 10 December 2004)
  12. ^ "Alexander (opened 24 November 2004) Oliver Stone's Costly History Lesson" Archived 7 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine By Cathy Schultz, Ph.D. in Dayton Daily News, 24 November 2004. (Also in Joliet Herald News, 28 November 2004; Bend Bulletin, 28 November 2004; Providence Journal, 26 November 2004.)
  13. ^ Esfandiari, Golnaz. "World: Oliver Stone's 'Alexander' Stirs Up Controversy". Rferl.org. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  14. ^ "Alexander (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  15. ^ Alexander at Metacritic
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (23 November 2004). "Alexander". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  17. ^ McCarthy, Todd (21 November 2004). "Alexander". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  18. ^ "Oliver Stone's Alexander Gets Another DVD Release The final, final cut is now confirmed..." Archived 10 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine By Brad Brevet (Monday, 18 December 2006)
  19. ^ "Warner Bros. Online: DVD Shop Browsing". Whv.warnerbros.com. Archived from the original on 3 March 2007. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  20. ^ "The Digital Fix: Home Cinema – Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut (HD) in September – EXTRAS!!". Homecinema.thedigitalfix.co.uk. 19 August 2007. Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  21. ^ Hugh Armitage (8 November 2012). "Oliver Stone plans fourth 'Alexander' cut". Digital Spy.
  22. ^ "Alexander: The Ultimate Cut". Karlovy Vary International Film. Archived from the original on 10 July 2013.
  23. ^ Iain Blair (27 June 2012). "Oliver Stone Insists Latest Cut of 'Alexander' Is the 'Ultimate Version'". Variety.
Bibliography

External linksEdit