I watched Alexander today. It’s another of those epic 3 hour films with lots of gory battle scenes and dramatic speeches, with the occasional romance and sex thrown in.
Between my impressions of Troy (2/5) and Gladiator (4/5) I would give Alexander 3/5. Definitely not as annoying or artificial as Troy, but still not as rousing as Gladiator. Probably because this movie portrays Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell) as an insecure lad, overcome by his insidious mother’s (Angelina Jolie) conspiracy theories and ambitions for him. Oh, incidentally, he’s bisexual with a stronger affinity towards men. Yes, his wife wasn’t too happy about that. Notice the special ring was – coincidentally – on his fourth finger?
The Alexander in the movie has liaisons with his best friend (forgothisname) until they both get poisoned and the historians cover this up by saying he died of fever. Both assertations are plausible, considering the dangerous environment that young Alexander probably lived in as a potential heir, a controlling mother with a father (Phillip?) who showed him tough love and then got assassinated himself. A psychologist would have a field day examining Alexander’s complexes.
There is some symbolism in the show which I didn’t feel very impressed about. That eagle. Whenever it soared above Alexander’s armies it meant he would win, no matter how difficult. Finally, when Alexander dies, it flies … all the way back from Babylon to Greece or Macedonia?! and drops something down. Somehow that is interpreted as Alexander having died, causing his mother to scream in anguish. Erm, right.
My favourite battle was with the Persians – good cinematography and calvary chase. The messiest one had to be in the Indian jungle with the elephants. What’s with the red?!
The most unusual gory scene would be the soothsayer going through a bull’s entrails and brain, just before Alexander proceeds into battle with the Persians. Other gory scenes involve the lopping off of heads, the impaling of men with spears (and in one case, a dying Greek soldier who had his misery cut short with a chisel through his head), and the crucifixions of traitors.
For love scenes – all one of them – Alexander’s commoner wife was well endowed for a skinny lass. There was a slight touch of Oedipus complex here and there. What with Angelina being his mum and all, who could resist those lips? Alexander gets his fair share of boys too. I think his father openly buggered someone at a Greek orgy, earlier on in the movie. Ugh.
Any political undertones? I think so but it may be just my imagination. Alexander calls his invasions of foreign countries ‘liberations’. The Persian army soldiers all look like variations of Osama (of course, of all Alexander’s adversaries they are genetically the closest in appearance to him). Not just that – the Persian king and his generals flee after losing the war, and Alexander pursues them for 3 years.
As Alexander’s army pushes on towards India, his generals increasingly voice their frustration and desire to return home. Their forces are depleting, morale is low, and any worthy general who stands up to Alexander is branded a traitor as his ego gets bigger along with his insecurity complex.
But because Alexander doesn’t want to be a ‘flip-flopper’ he presses on. Alexander’s lover-boy friend, ominously, has just died from drinking poisoned water. When Alexander is given a bowl of wine to drink at a gathering, the eagle’s image somehow appears IN the darned bowl of wine, complete with haunting sound effects. For some unbelievably stupid reason Alexander still decides to drink it! Certainly this is one of the biggest artistic licences taken in the movie.
It was OK to watch, though I don’t feel inspired to watch it again. I expected a more heroic version of Alexander. But who’s really to know what the truth was?