234 of 245 people found the following review helpful
More true to history than people think,
This review is from: Alexander, Revisited: The Final Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
I originally sat on the fence in my opinion of the theatre release of Alexander, but Alexander Revisited has won me over as admirer of the film. The new cut has a truly epic feel and the leading characters are portrayed with more breadth and depth. In particular, the climactic crises of Alexander's career are conveyed more intelligibly and convincingly than before. I am the author of both academic articles and non-fiction books on Alexander, so I feel I should comment particularly on the historical accuracy of the film. In my opinion Alexander Revisited is notably honest, daring and sincere in its pursuit of historical accuracy. Although Oliver has deliberately conflated events which actually occurred at different times and places into single scenes (I think he had to in order to tell the whole story in a single film), almost everything has some kind of historical basis in the group of 2000 year old accounts, which provide most of our knowledge of Alexander. For example, such details as Cleitus severing the arm of a Persian about to strike Alexander, the incident with the monkeys in India and Alexander's visit to the wounded after the battle are all in the sources. Even that eagle is mentioned by Curtius. Furthermore, many snippets of dialogue are based on words actually said to have been spoken by Alexander: e.g. "He too is Alexander", "So would I if I were Parmenion", "It is a lovely thing to live with courage..." Great attention to historical detail was also paid to the costumes and scenery. Babylon was particularly good - the ziggurat, the flowers and the caged big cats were all really there when Alexander drove into the city in a chariot. Overall, Alexander Revisited gives a more authentic sense of the real history than any other film about the ancient world that I can think of. Gladiator was a great film, but its greatness owed more to Marvel comic strip principles of action and violence than to its setting in ancient Rome. Alexander Revisited is a great film because it tells one of the most compelling human stories in all of history with faithfulness, drama and pathos.
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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 2, 2008 3:54:25 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2008 3:59:59 AM PST
A quick comment on the historical accuracy. In the material surroundings Stone (who is a huge Alexander admirer, BTW) gets much right. But he was horrendously wrong in his depiction of Hephaestion who was portrayed in the film as short, slim, slightly effete and afflicted with eyeliner. In reality, Hephaestion was a full head taller than Alexander and was referred to as the most handsome man (not beautiful) in all of Greece. I know that Stone knows better and perhaps he made the change to appeal to the modern gay audience but it portrays quite a different relationship from the likely reality; a deep and abiding love and respect between two great warriors.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 26, 2009 3:03:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 26, 2009 3:12:53 PM PDT
Why quibble about the film portrayal of Hephaestion. All of the actors in it were probably much taller than in ancient times. Alexander was what, 5'2", 5'3"? So what? He was a giant! Hephaestion was what? A hand span taller? A big head taller? A thousandth of a furlong taller? Slim? Slim like an Olympic athlete, slim like a marathon runner? Effete? Absurd! A Macedonian general effete? Afflicted with eyeliner? I don't give a damn if he was a drag queen, in battle he and his eromenos were terrors. Handsome, but not beautiful? What homoerotic standards does this Diogenes impose? They were both handsome, and their beauty went far beyond their battle-scared bodies and fair sunburned faces. They were titans upon this earth and the last colossi whose deaths closed the Age of Heroes. Stone doesn't pander to a gay audience, if anything he understates their love, sensuousness and lifelong affection. Kudos to Andrew Michael Chugg! His books are fascinating, his review of the movie superb and his appreciation of the most famous pair of lovers in all history touching.
Posted on Nov 7, 2009 9:05:52 PM PST
From a guy who peaks at #371,000 on Amazon's book sales... who gives a rat's butt if this is historically accurate? How about historically accurate and GOOD? The movie sucks. I'd like to know a little more about him. Ok... he liked men. Fine. Really. Now how about a little insight into what made him what he was? How about a little insight into what enabled him to conquer half the freakin' world? How about a decently filmed battle scene? Jesus... how about a return for my dollar?
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2009 10:03:36 PM PST
When acting in such relationships, hollywood stars are often portrayed as the 'butch' of the pair. The long embraces between Alexander and Hephaestion are almost virginal. Stone has to cater to mainstream sensibilities, so there is still some compromise....
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2010 7:40:26 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 24, 2010 7:41:51 AM PDT
Rick Ansgar says:
And to which historical record(s) would you propose we consult to find this aspect of Alexandre? I don't think you realise that there's genuine problem with what is actually known to be true, of Alexandre.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 17, 2010 9:55:12 PM PDT
There are several Greek history books to consult, that portray history accurately. You can read the wikipedia article on the battle of Gaugamela. Or watch the history channel documentary titled "Battle of Gaugamela" on youtube, and get a glimpse of Alexander's strategic genius. Unfortunately, none of Alexander's strategic genius or leadership quality is portrayed in this horrid film.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 17, 2010 10:02:17 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2010 1:01:41 AM PDT
If you find gossip such as Alexander's affection for Hephaestion more important than the fact that he united the kingdoms of Greece, that he conquered and civilized Eurasia and that he invented strategy and tactics, then this film is made for you. And so are supermarket tabloids.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 29, 2011 6:42:54 PM PDT
colin chick says:
The Campaigns of Alexander, by Arrian, would be a good start. Arrian felt the same way about his work, that Stone did about his film, that is was the diffinative work of his life. Stone had the help of Robin Lane Fox a leading Brit scholar, who had written a very complex and factual history of Alexander's life [ which I soldiered through.] Also there is Plutarch's Lives of the noble Greeks, a standard for Ancient History classes.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2012 12:37:28 AM PST
M. Oneill says:
Gaugamela was a huge battle scene. Plus if your're not an Alexander the Great admirer then dont bother replying
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2012 3:43:17 AM PST
colin chick says:
Suggest you read, Alexander A New History,Henkel and Tritle. I'm looking for "Responces to Oliver Stone's Alexander: Film History and Cultural Studies, by Cartledge and Greenland, with a response by Stone. I'm a big fan of Alexander.