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Alexander the Great (1956)

Richard Burton , Fredric March , Robert Rossen  |  NR |  DVD
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Burton, Fredric March, Claire Bloom, Danielle Darrieux, Barry Jones
  • Directors: Robert Rossen
  • Writers: Robert Rossen
  • Producers: Robert Rossen, Gordon Griffith
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: October 19, 2004
  • Run Time: 141 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002KPHW4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,929 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Alexander the Great" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Original theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

Fierce military commander, magnificent warrior, world conqueror. Legendary Macedonian hero Alexander the Great is celebrated in this definitive film about his tumultuous life. Richard Burton, FredricMarch and Claire Bloom lead a "remarkable cast" (Leonard Maltin) of thousands in this epic film that seamlessly blends spectacular action, vivid character portrayals and an age-old tale of wisdom, blood and glory! Alexander (Burton) is a man torn by conflict between the lofty wisdom of histeacher, Aristotle (Barry Jones), loyalty to his warrior father (March) and his own grand design for world domination. In a turbulent world of political unrest, this ambitious young man must rise above all conflict to unite the continents of Europe and Asia and become one of the most celebrated rulers of all time!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a Great looking DVD! October 27, 2004
Format:DVD
I see that all other reviews where written before the Oct. 19th 04 release of this DVD, therefore referring to VHS only. I purchased and viewed this today, Oct. 27th. 04. It is not my intention to give this a detailed review as has been done at lenght eleswhere. Not my style anyway.
To write about Greek or Roman history/heros with all the factions and diverse warring rulers of those times is tedious at best. And a hard subject to put into a screenplay, to breathe the least. However this is a literate screenplay and all the players are mentioned, just a bit hard to follow unless you've read your Will Durant. Not just another popcorn flick.

No, I just want to say that if anyone is thinking of buying this DVD, I don't think you'd be disappointed, providing you love all the Hollywood epics of the 50's. If you do you may want this one too! Not the spectacle of Quo Vadis, Ben Hur, King of Kings or the pagentry of Cleopatra, but a worthy entry none the less. Matte paintings used in all aforementioned used here as well, but not as many. The Babalonian City is extraordinary and enough glass paintings to convey an epic, unlike the claustrophobic Spartacus. The sets are somewhat meger, like Spartacus, but what lacks there is made up for in the use of Technicolor and Cinemascope and the absolutely remarkable and stunning wardrobe. This is a terrific transfer and will look even better on your 16 x 9 HDTV! The 480 that DVD's put out look as though you might reach for that goblet on wine on the table.
Spain seems to double well for Greece and Persia and although the battles were not of the rousing kind, one over looks this as a trade off to the overall movie.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended On All Levels February 27, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Great entertainment and historically correct, for the most part. Richard Burton plays a convincing Alexander. From the start, with the background on Alexander's youth and his relationship with his father Philip and mother Olympias, the movie awesomely captures history. The battle scenes are recreated very well. I especially liked the post-battle scene at Chaeronea with the drunken Philip's singing echoing through the valley. Only minor errors, such as Darius's daughter being called Roxanne (a Bactrian princess) instead of Statira, can easily be overlooked. Alexander in fact, married both women anyway. The Persians are also shown historically correct for the most part, especially Darius' murder and the scene at Persepolis. For an under two-hour movie, what you get is quite spectacular. Of course, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to reduce to film everything in Alexander's life.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Looking DVD November 4, 2004
Format:DVD
I have recently rented or purchased so-called "remastered" films on DVD and have frequently been very disappointed. For instance, "Pope Joan" (1972) starring Liv Ullman, and "Third Man On The Mountain" (1959) starring James MacArthur. Both are terrible film/disc transfers, with scratches, dirt and no color correction. So, I shuddered to think what "Alexander the Great" would look like. To my surprise, and enjoyment, the DVD transfer is very good, with excellent Surround sound. The picture image (widescreen, 2:35.1) is free of dirt, scratches and distortion.

That said, the film is . . . well, what it is. You can't go back and remake this particular version with this cast. So, we're stuck with making the best tranfer we can with what we've got.

I heard that Burton disclaimed his performance because he so strongly disagreed with Robert Rossen's approach. He was probably right. You can see patches of a potentially good film, but Rossen's approach (plodding and episodic), with rough, patchy editing, destroys what vision he may have started with. Characters come and go so frequently that it's hard to keep up without a playbill in your lap. This is because Rossen told Alexander's ENTIRE life story, from birth to death. That's a lot of history, not to mention people, to absorb in just over 2 hours.

Very good actors are given only limited screen time. These seasoned character actors do the best with what they've got, but writer Rossen generally gives them only a thumb-nail sketch of their characters, people who are central to Alexander's life. I get the sense that this is the Reader's Digest version of a much longer movie.

Also, every scene feels exactly like the previous one. Rossen's direction is simple, mechanical and workman-like.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The world is my domain" March 4, 2005
Format:DVD
One of the best things about this epic based on Alexander the Great is watching and listening to Richard Burton ply his magnificent craft. He was 29 at the time this film was made, and his resonant voice is remarkable, and one of the most unique sounds to be heard in the cinema. He is unfortunately wearing a strawberry blonde wig that has so much spray on it, it could be made of plastic, but otherwise makes a marvelous Alexander, in one of his rare appearances in an "ancient costume epic", others being "The Robe" and the infamous "Cleopatra".

Written, directed and produced by Robert Rossen, it has some excellent dialogue, overall fine acting, and of course, battle sequences with 1001 extras. There is also quite a bit of "beefcake", but not many who are ready for the bare chest exposure, including Burton, whose abs are almost absent, and many of the extras are flabby and rotund, and hard to imagine are warriors.
Shot on location in Spain, the cinematography by Robert Krasner, in typical '50s vibrant Technicolor, is wonderful. Claire Bloom is beautiful as Barsine, a dark and hairy, savage and quite unrecognizable Frederick March is terrific as Philip of Macedon, Harry Andrews is a good Darius, and Danielle Darrieux is Alexander's crafty mother. Others of note in the cast are Stanley Baker as Attalus, and Peter Cushing as Memnon.

Though flawed, this is a film that can be viewed repeatedly, for its well written scenes, Burton's acting, and a smattering of history as well, which is condensed and altered to fit the Hollywood format, but has some basis in truth; it is also fascinating to note that if one listens carefully, one will hear things reminiscent of recent news stories; history seems to be a wheel that is ever turning, and for the brief time that Alexander was in power, he would say "The world is my domain, and my mission is to rule it and rebuild it".
Total running time is 136 minutes, and the DVD extra is the original theatrical trailer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best Richard Burton film I've seen
Wish there were a 3.5 rating. The history is interesting and provided me a whole new perspective from Oliver Stone's piece. The history, simultaneously, is dead wrong at times. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Frederick B. Gallaher
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring! Richard Burton was really miscast as Alexander
Boring! Richard Burton was really miscast as Alexander. I think it's best to have actors who are from another country rather than trying to make popular actors fit these part in... Read more
Published 17 days ago by The Purple Bee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
just as i remember it
Published 26 days ago by ronald p milligan
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Great costumes. Poor story line.
Published 1 month ago by Carl Konkel
4.0 out of 5 stars The man behind the legend…
Alexander the Great is easily one of the most fascinating historical figures. Because of that, his life is something that has been the subject of portrayal many times over,... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Andrew Ellington
5.0 out of 5 stars Closer to the sources
Vastly superior to the more recent movie on Alexander. Follows his life more thoroughly than most but with a sometimes overdramatic flair from actor Richard Burton. Read more
Published 7 months ago by linda Glennon
4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD AFTER RUMMINATING
When I first watched this I was severely underwhelmed because of the battle scenes. The battle recreations are a mosh pit of extras, that is two opposing forces clash with no... Read more
Published 10 months ago by T. A. Hansen
2.0 out of 5 stars Feeble production
Doubtful historical accuracy. Burton could not save this film! I was very disappointed, a lost opportunity to present a great story.
Published 12 months ago by Brian Wiltshire
5.0 out of 5 stars Older is better
I find this 1956 verion surpeior to the the newer edition. Alexnder the Great tells the story of Alexnder fairy accurately and does so with a good story and character development. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Pete N. Austira
3.0 out of 5 stars As with 1950's historical movies it takes libertys
The movie completely glosses over sexuality of the Greek world, Hespestion is not an important player as he was to Alexander
Published 12 months ago by John A. Mathieson
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