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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 (49 customer reviews)

List Price: $14.98
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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 (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002KPHW4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,475 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
24 of 25 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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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
With films about Alexander the Great directed by Oliver Stone and Baz Luhrmann supposedly being released in 2004 and 2005 respectively, the 1956 film "Alexander the Great" from director Robert Rossen with Richard Burton in the title role is probably going to see renewed interest. However, despite providing a realistic portrayal of a historical legend and being one of the most historically faithful films about the ancient world ever to be made, there is something missing from this would be epic.
"Alexander the Great" was written, produced and directed by Rossen, who had won the Academy Award for "All the King's Men" (1949) and would be nominated gain for "The Hustler" (1961). All three films have in common the realistic portrait of a complex psychological figure. Burton plays Alexander as being both energetic and a visionary, with quicksilver changes in mood. Alexander is both idealistic and practical, intelligent but hot-tempered, courageous but shrewd. Although he conquers the Persian Empire while still basically a boy, this is a conqueror who suffers defeats and almost falls prey to becoming an Oriental potentate just like Darius (Harry Andrews), the Persian king he just conquered. This is a man who can kill a friend in a moment of anger while drunk and weep over the body.
The more you know about the historical Alexander the more impressed you are by the film's fidelity to what appears in Plutarch. Here is the Alexander who worshiped Achilles and loved Homer's "Iliad," who was taught by Aristotle, cut the Gordian knot, destroyed Persepolis, and died a young man at Babylon. The battles sequences, such as the battle at the river Granicus, run rather short, but are not all that bad.
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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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 2 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 7 months ago by John A. Mathieson
4.0 out of 5 stars cupofgold
Your looking for a good movie here but your missing the point. The costumes Richard Burton wear are a FREAKIN RIOT- everything from frumpy housewife to super gay outfits that are... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Cupofgold
5.0 out of 5 stars classic
This version with Claire Bloom and Richard Burton is far better than the more recent version with Angelina Jolie
as the nasty queen. Read more
Published 8 months ago by KatrinMarx
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sword And Sandal Epic!
The 1956 Alexander the Great is a historically accurate film about the life of the Macedonian King Alexander the Great. The first plus about the film is the cast. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Louise
2.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, and Failed to Make Me Care to Understand
I didn't understand this movie very well. Indeed, I got so lost that when it was over, I went to Wikipedia and read about the life of Alexander before I thought I could write this... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Barbara Frederick
1.0 out of 5 stars A complete waste of time
I only wish I could get back the time I spent watching this horribly boring movie. Richard Burton is wooden and the action is almost non-existent. Read more
Published on December 7, 2011 by Vinyl Spin
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