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The True Story of Alexander the Great (History Channel)

4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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(Dec 28, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Tutored by Aristotle, helpless witness to his father's assassination, and a brilliant, pioneering tactician, Alexander the Great had conquered the known world--and sealed his legacy as one of history's most remarkable rulers--by the age of 25. In the year 334 B.C., 20-year-old King Alexander of Macedonia decided to bring the farthest reaches of the world under one domain. Over the next 12 years, he led a grand army across more than 20,000 miles and eventually brought all of Asia under his control, only to perish from battle wounds at the age of 32. Incorporating dramatic onsite reenactments with high-end computer graphics and the expertise of renowned scholars, THE TRUE STORY OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT is special presentation from THE HISTORY CHANNEL®, examining the life and career of this military genius, impassioned lover, and fearless leader. Hosted by Peter Woodward (Conquest), this definitive program is available on DVD for the first time. DVD Features: The Making of The True Story of Alexander The Great Featurette; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Special Features

  • Making-of featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Woodward
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 28, 2004
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006L7UFG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,663 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a worthy documentary but it is rather short. It tries to strike a balance by showing Alexander's life from youth until he eventually assumed the reigns of power and conquered the known world. There is no one outstanding or trully memorable sequence in this documentary nor is there colorful or dramatic commentary. There are some CGI scenes (that are used over and over) that do paint a fine picture of the Macedonian army's formations. Some of the battles are explored with superficial detail and provide a shallow analysis of the strategies used.

For anyone who really likes this documentary, I would highly recommend "In the Footsteps of Alexander" by Michael Wood. In that DVD, Alexander's footsteps are re-traced from the time he left his home (never to see it again) until his death. It has many memorable scenes and fine commentary by Wood. Neither documentary provides an exhaustive portrait of the man but they do help you get there with further research.
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Format: DVD
Standing alone as a documentary, without any pre-knowledge of Alexander the Great, one would view this as highly informative and well structured.

However, if you know even the basics of what Alexander did, you'll find yourself a bit concerned with the way events are told.

If you're an expert, you'll feel bitter at how this "documentary" is very biased.

It tells a very informative account of Alexander's exploits, with the typical documentary style of a narrator along with the side-angle shot of historians and experts talking about subjects, along with some re-enactments of some events and the commercial breaks, even re-enactments of Plutarch, Arrian, Curtius Rufus, and such telling us directly what they wrote about Alexander.

However, the documentary leaves no room open for ambiguity, as the historians give their one-sided opinions on Alexander's character and the documentary goes along with that without showing other views.

For one, the documentary (this includes many of the experts' testimony) takes the ancients' words and twists their ambiguity for their own interpretation. Alexander is portrayed as a power-hungry, greedy, drunken little boy who isn't happy doing anything but conquering people. When he kills Philotas, he is obliged to kill Parmenion, but the documentary simply leaves it at "he also had his father Parmenion killed" without further explanation, leaving non-experts feeling as if Alexander brutally had Parmenion killed just because he was Philotas's father.
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Format: DVD
Being a true Alexander buff that I am, I was very disappointed with this DVD. It's apparent from its production values that the History Channel didn't want to allocate the resources (expenses) that a production about the life of history's greatest conqueror deserves.

The battle scenes and the enactment of the drama are very amateurish. It's almost like you'd rather see Peter Woodward sitting behind a desk talking about Alexander. I didn't even really consider the bias elements that another reviewer noted as I sat uninterested through the program. It would have been okay if I was catching it on TV, but I soon felt that it was a waste of money and not deserving of being in my collection of all things Alexander.

You'll get a LOT more out of reading a few good books about Alexander and watching the Oliver Stone movie (the third 'Final Cut' version). It's better than worthless as it attempts to teach the viewer at least something about Alexander - hence two stars - but it'd be best to catch this on the History Channel sometime rather than spending the money on such a poorly conceived program.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I found this DVD to be a fantastic and engageing documentary on arguably the greatest conqueror in history. Some of the other reviewers commented that it was too short??? It is over 2 hours long...not sure what else they were hoping for. The DVD takes you from the childhood of Alexander through his adulthood and demise. They quote Heroditus, Plutarch, and a few other ancient sources on Alexander throughout the documentary. This DVD does a good job reinacting scenes from Alexanders life. The one thing that they DID fall a little short on was the discriptions of battles. Gogamela was the one that stood out the most. They neglected some details that I would have appreciated. I really wish they would have given some of the battle estimates as far as numbers go to get an idea as to what Alexander was up against. Many of the battle scenes use the cheesy CGI for parts of it. I don't care for the CGI stuff, but was not particularly bothered because they didn't use a ton of it. I did take a Greek history class a couple of years ago and, in all I learned a lot from this DVD and it was an excellent and entertaining refresher. I highly recommend this DVD if you know nothing about Alexander the Great, or if you simply would like to refresh your knowledge without having to spend the next few days or weeks reading a history book.
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