Oliver Stone hints at studio problems in the newly recorded introduction, citing that this version is the film he was able to finally put together with 'total creative freedom'. And it's magnificent. The first 45 minutes are breathtaking and almost an epic in themselves as we plunge headfirst into the (extended) battle of Gaugamela before slipping back into Alexander's past. The film is stronger for it's total re-edit as well as the inclusion of many scenes that add shades of character to the once faceless soldiers and generals in Alexander's army. Unlike previous versions of the film, the bond between Alexander and his men is palpable. Being allowed to breathe, the film is genuinely affecting in places (the soldier's death after Gaugemela and the last few moments between Phillip and Alexander) where as before it felt hurried, as though we had to get to the next big scene. The big moments are all there, in fact they are even stronger here, but the pacing greatly improves the emotional impact and allows a deeper understanding of the character development and motivation. It also feels as if you are watching an intelligent film taking the viewer on a journey that is both provocative and fascinating.
The India sequences are also extended, and again the battle scene is emotionally involving, creating a genuine moment where we intercut between Alexander the man and the boy, as he talks to Bucephalus before his last charge. The violence in the India sequence is also extremely graphic.
As in any version, Vangelis's score is a bonus and the film looks amazing. The performances are strong and Anthony Hopkins provides, I think, a new voice over for the duration of the film. It works in providing an anchor as the film is very non-linear.
I could go on, but you have to see it for yourself. It is finally an Oliver Stone film, as opposed to the compromise of the theatrical version and the second guessing (although greatly improved) 'Director's Cut'. THIS is the version to own, but with no extras at all, you'd be best to keep a hold of other versions for documentaries, commentaries etc.
An absolute epic. From the critical ravaging of the original release to this glorious masterpiece, it is an essential film for any serious film lover and DVD collector. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant...
on 8 August 2007
I was always a fan of the original theatrical cut of Alexander; I found it to be a brave, dashing film which looked and sounded exquisite and had a genuine emotional kick to it. However, as much as I loved it, I could concede that certain parts detracted from the overall effect; namely certain dialogue, too much clunky exposition, perhaps not enough of Stone's Alexander showing himself to be 'great' on the battlefield and perhaps too much of Alexander weeping and sulking. With this new double disc DVD Im am very glad to say all of my personal reservations seem to have been addressed amd rectified!
We now get the sense of epic-ness through a greater spectrum of drama: the family scenes at Pella with Kilmer and Jolie are less distracting and domineering, both battles at Gaugamela and Multan benefit from added gore (sorry if that sounds childish but if a battle is to be horrifying and realistic then we should be allowed to watch the suffering. There isn't much more insulting to an audience than a film editor who robs us of emotional impact!) and tactical explanation, to a generally more lyrical and emotionally resonant narrative. All of the craziness is present and correct: the elephants, the infra-red battle, the Persian eunuchs, the dancing girls, Kilmer and Jolie CHEWING up scenery with their entertainingly demented performances, the larger than life (and achingly beautiful) Vangelis score...everything an epic movie should be is represented here with style, swagger and verve.
Homophopics will not be pleased (who cares?)to learn that the male on male relationaships are given more time and space to develop: for me, this serves to make the characters more sensitive and human; besides, the heteosexual relationaships are shown in far more graphic detail. I guess Stone was hoping that after 2300 years we would have gotten used to the idea but reports suggest many viewers (no elbows pointing at bible-belt USA) still have a problem with this kind of depiction.
But for those of us who are more sensible and open minded, Alexander Revisited represents an astounding example of epic filmmaking that topples the petty attempts like Troy.
Hollywood take note! Both Alexander and Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven have been improved ENORMOUSLY by being allowed longer running times. These are stories that require a large canvas to be told properly. Im very glad Oliver Stone didn't let this go and cut his losses; like Alexander himself, he persevered in the face of incredulity and his emerged, finally, with the masterpiece he set out to make. This is the stuff of Titans. I recommend this without hesitation.
on 9 August 2005
Before I begin to compare both the Theatrical DVD Version (2 Discs) and the Alexander Directors Cut Edition (1 Disc) I would just like to inform everyone that this film is actually very very good. I believe that the critics basically had fun in panning Oliver Stones picture and I urge everyone not to watch this film due to those reviews.
Alexander is brilliant. It is historically accurate in many ways and tells a near on complete and interesting story of his life (as the film is three hours long).
Oliver Stone shows his directorial talent by creating many unforgetable images and excellent scenery and backdrops. And the BATTLE SCENES, well, they are just superb. Both the sandy battle at Gualamela and the huge invasion of India at the end of the film are both excellent with some quality cinematography and a great musical soundtrack to back them up. If you are going to watch Alexander just for the battle scenes then believe me, you will not be dissapointed!
Now I come to comparing the DVDs.
As most DVD Talk forums would agree with me, this version, the two disc theatrical version is so much better than the directors cut. I have seen both and would tell anyone to purcahse this version instead. The directors cut is shorter and has way too many flashbacks (nine years before, ten years after, nine years on, 2 years later) making the direcots cut DVD a mess/shambles which could esialy confuse anyone. If you are buying this DVD for the action then it doesn't matter what version you buy because there are no alterations in the action sequences at all, both are the same.
Overall, the Direcotrs Cut DVD is in a huge mess and is actually shorter than the original film which really is a bad thing. The theatrical version is a three hour 2 disc film which tells the COMPLETE story of Alexander and hasen't missed anything out at all. The only downside is that the theatrical version is spread over 2 discs so you have to change discs in between film but I actully prefer this as you can watch what is a three hour epic in two smaller chunks. The directors cut is all on one disc but has cut out nearly 15 minutes of the film and has only had some scenes 're-configured' with hardly any 'decent' scenes being added. Hence I would urge all to purchase the 2 disc theatrical version. It may cost more but it is worth it.
On the whole, Alexander is actually an excellent film and I ugre everyone to ignore what the critics have said and wtahc this tremendous epic (with some quality battle scenes included). I would also like to say that if you are going to buy Alexander get the Theatrical 2 Disc Special Edition and not the directors cut.
on 4 October 2014
Wondering about whether to buy Alexander on Blu-ray?
Don't buy the UK one - you only get the Theatrical cut. This Italian one has both the Theatrical Cut and the new Ultimate Cut on two separate discs with different extras on each disc. I suspect on a quick watch that the Theatrical Cut is the best cut of the four on Blu-ray but I advise you to get this one. The only Italian you will see is on the back of the case. The actual disc boots to an English menu on both discs - English DTS-HD MA audio is the default option - no subtitles need to be switched off etc. All the extras are in English.
This seems exactly the same as the much more expensive US 2-disc one yet the discs are the same. Summary? If you want Alexander - buy this one!
on 18 November 2015
The man known as Alexander the Great was an inspiring leader, his military prowess is still of mythic proportions. His Macedonian/Greek armies moved across the Middle East all the way to the Himalayan mountains and down into India itself. In general they conquered all in their path, yet in the manner of conquerors throughout history, once he passed from the scene his mighty empire quickly falls apart.
This film contains a great deal of royal deception and intrigue as Alexander’s mother claims to have been impregnated by Zeus as she schemes and plots to have Alexander assume the throne of the kingdom of Macedonia. This role is played very well by Angelina Jolie, there is nothing that she will not do in order to move Philip of Macedonia, Alexander’s father, out of the way.
The battle scenes are depicted with a lot of blood and mayhem, which is historically accurate. Two mighty armies fighting with spears and swords spills a lot of blood on the ground as well as on each other. This is particularly the case in the final battle scene between Alexander’s forces and those of an Indian army attacking with a large number of war elephants. They were in essence the first battle tanks, men on the ground were easily brushed aside by crazed elephants charging through their ranks.
The movie is also historically accurate in depicting Alexander’s sexual orientation. As a king, it was his duty to produce a male heir, yet many times he expresses his sexual attraction to males. While there is of course a great deal of poetic license taken with specific events, in general the movie is historically accurate. Some people object to this depiction of Alexander as gay, but all they are doing is demonstrating their ignorance of ancient Greek society.
Under his direction, Alexander’s army fought many great and bloody battles, as a military commander he was never defeated in the field. Live fast and die young is a mantra used in several contexts, no one did both at a higher level than Alexander. When you read about how he moved such large armies thousands of miles and defeated all that stood in his way, it is amazing to discover that he accomplished all of his victories in a period of approximately 10 years. There are many theories as to his cause of death, one of the simplest is that his body was just wore out after years of war and many relatively minor injuries.
This is an epic movie about one of the most amazing historical figures of all time. Educated by Aristotle, Alexander was more than just a gifted warrior, he was also a builder of cities and a surprisingly reflective man. It is a movie with enough historical accuracy to be shown to history classes.
I'm stunned to see the glowing reviews of this film (are we watching the same film?), I'm being quite generous with 2 stars on this rating.
On paper Oliver Stone's take on Alexander could have been at best great, at worst pretty good. Unfortunately it's neither and ends up being the start of a once great director's nose dive into mediocre and poor film making.
The subject is about as good as it gets for a modern day epic, one of the greatest military commanders ever born. I had visions of a great film (Alexander's life is a full of drama) and as far as ancient battles go Stone had one of the most incredible land conflicts in his pocket, the Battle of Gaugamela..but throws away it's potential with a lame and poorly directed battle scene. With around 200,000 men on a battlefield, this stunning battle was one of the most significant and epic of all time.
Sadly Stone entirely wastes it with a weak jumble of a few dozen guys badly dressed up, misplaced close up camera work...you get no sense of scale or strategic brilliance. If you were impressed with the battle scenes in Spartacus (and they were good no question) prepare to be bitterly disappointed, the wonders of modern technology do nothing to help.
Colin Farrell is miscast as the great man himself, with Angelina Jolie looking uninterested as Alexander's mother. Anthony Hopkins (who bores us with his bland and tedious narration) and Val Kilmer are also thrown into the mix, but to little gain. The cast just doesn't work, and it's let down with some very weak screenplay and a dull labouring script.
The biggest problem though aside from all the other weak areas (and they are very weak), is you simply cannot connect to any of the characters. This is a huge problem for any biopic film if the lead role can't hold your attention. Farrell is by no means a bad actor, this just is not the role for him.
Leaving aside the slamming the film got by critics and the poor box office performance (it was a flop overall due to marketing costs lost money) I wanted to like the film, but it just fails on so many counts. I did force myself to watch it, the entire trawling 3 hours experience it was, though I found the instructions printed on paint tins to be more entertaining. It was not only a crushing bore, but sad to see such huge potential wasted. This big budget film should have delivered a real corker of a movie bang up to date with all the SFX and slick presentation we've come to expect. If a film fails, it is usually at the basics and this is where Alexander does badly in every category from the miscast actors, to poor direction and weak screenplay.
No degree of polishing or CGI effect could ever made that up.
Stone later went on to re-cut the movie many times, in a desperate bid to re-vamp the film into something passable. The old phrase from the film Christine springs to mind "you can't polish a T..."
I love films based on history and historical characters. I've seen this one time and time again and I still have the same mixed feelings as the very first time when I saw it on screen.
Part of my problems have to do with Colin Farrell who either was miscast as Alexander or was required to play a "human" version of Alexander and comes out like a bit of a whimp, at least at times. Now if there is one thing that Alexander could NOT afford to be, it is precisely that, especially among his fellow-Macedonians. A Macedonian king did not live for very long if he wasn't tough, strong and ruthless. Philip was and so was Alexander, although this is not shown by Colin Farrell who, when he gets angry, seems to become more hysterical than anything else. This, in my view, was much more of a problem than deciding whether Farrell's Irish accent was "acceptable" or not. Anyway, they are all speaking English, not Ancient Greek or Macedonian!
A related problem is the way the relationship with Hephaïstion is treated. No problem with the relationship per se: it certainly has to be treated because it was crucial in Alaxander's existence. I did however have a bit of problem with the way it was treated, with Hephaïstion "doe eyes" at Alexander and with the two "boys" falling into each other's arms and crying on each other's shoulders at the slightest provocation. Since they were both athletes, both fully mature and both seasoned killers (as all of the Macedonians were), this did not sound very realistic.
On the other hand, most of the other actors (Val Kilmer as Philip, Angelina Jolie as Olympias, Anthony Hopkins as Ptolemy, in particular) are good or even excellent, and so are the actors playing a number of the secondary characters such as Parmenion or Philotas. The costumes are meticulously researched and superb. The battles scenes, and Gaugamela in particular, are quite fantastic. It is however both strange and a pity that we only get treated to the two last ones - Gaugamela and Hydaspes. How about Granicus and Issos? And how about Cheronea, with Philip against Athens and Thebes? And how about all the sieges, in particular that of Tyre which lasted 7 months and was so difficult? Rather than the story of Alaxander's great deeds and those of his Macedonians, we only get a selection with many events being entirely passed over and some inacuracies introduced. For instance, Kleitos saved Alexander's life by cutting of a Persian's arm at Granicus, not at Gaugamela. Kleitos was the commander of Alexander's Royal squadrom (the king's horseguard, in effect) until he was murdered by Alexander, and he had this command already under Philip.
In the film, Oliver Stone also skirts and dances around two issues which had been raised: -- First, did Alexander have a hand in his father death? He does not say so, although he seems to suspect something, given his behavior, and Stone seems to have blamed the conspiracy Olympias only. Historians and novellists have picked different interpretations, depending on how they view Alexander and we will probably nver know for sure
- Second, was Alexander poisoned? Oliver Stone does not believe this was the case although the boss was clearly getting more erratic and murderous so that they could have been incentives to do away with him as a preventive measure.
So, the treatment of Alexander is largely the modern view adopted by historians: an emphasis on the man rather than the conqueror or the legend. The problem is that, when it comes down to the execution, the "human touch" seems overplayed and Colin Farrell made a very poor and unconvincing Alexander in my view...
NB - As is Amazon's wont, they've unhelpfully bunched together the reviews of the two-disc theatrical version and the shorter director's cut, which are both available separately and not included in the same set. It does not refer to the subsequent Final Cut and Ultimate Edition (yes, Stone actually edited four different versions of the film!)
The theatrical version of Alexander is not the total disaster it's been painted, more an interesting failure with moments that aspire to greatness nestled amid others that look too much like a Hallmark miniseries for comfort. Unfortunately, it lacks a particularly good script: indeed, where there's overlap between them, Robert Rossen's somewhat underfunded 1955 film dealt with key events much more dramatically and without recoursing to excessive narration to fill in the gaps.
On an intellectual level it's easy to see the rationale behind Stone's dramatic decisions, but the execution is often lacking: when that comes down to a hopelessly inadequate Colin Farrell trying his hardest, bless his little cotton socks, and an even more hopelessly out of his depth Gary Stretch struggling in their big dramatic scenes you find yourself wondering if maybe we weren't all a bit too harsh on Tony Curtis' accent in The Black Shield of Falworth. In a role that requires either great screen presence or a great actor, the blandly inoffensive Farrell proves to be neither. He tries hard (which is much more than can be said for Clive Owen in King Arthur) and he's almost convincing in the two action scenes, but he never sells you as an extraordinary man people will follow across the known world.
And then, of course, there's the supporting cast, Val Kilmer occasionally channelling Robert Newton's Long John Silver, Angelina Jolie coming across like Irene Papas on steroids (not to mention with added collagen) and Anthony Hopkins looking for another bit of scenery to chew on. (On a purely trivial note it's strange to note how much Rory McCann looks like either a young Sean Connery or a middle-aged Victor Argo depending on what angle he's photographed from.) Although there's a method to his madness, it's hard not to think Stone is taking the Mick with all the Celtic accents and at times its surprisingly difficult to decipher what is being said, more because of mumbling and slurred pronunciation than the regional dialect, to be fair.
There's intelligence at work here, as witnessed by the cave scene where the terrible price of greatness among the mythological heroes Alexander idolises is outlined, but often more in intent than execution. When it does work, it works well - the bloody battle of Guagamela seen intermittently from an eagle's eye view, the scenes in a gorgeously realized Babylon - but all too often there's too little of what made Alexander great. Indeed, there's too little of everything despite its running time. Relationships aren't convincingly sketched out and the big dramatic scenes are clumsily executed and emotionally uninvolving: his scenes with his mother or the fatal argument with Cleitus just show up the inadequacies of the cast and lack power or focus. Stone's tendency to idealize Alexander doesn't help, even if his script acknowledges the fact. For all his talk of being driven by a dream, it's never really communicated what that dream was beyond a desire for personal glory and a place among the immortals, nor does he deal with the fact that Alexander left no legacy but chaos. As a result, the last hour, when things start to go bad for Al, gets duller than it needs to be. Still, Vangelis' score is excellent
It's strange that so many American critics focused on the bisexuality: in truth, it's one of the least gay sword-and-sandals epics, simply avoiding all the euphemisms to deal with it head-on. That said, I could have done without Farrell flittering his eyelids like a little girl ever time he's with Hephaistion. Thankfully that's the case in the shorter Director's Cut, which is, surprisingly, something of an improvement over the longer theatrical version, if only by virtue of clarity and brevity (and the much-needed deletion of most of Anthony Hopkins' interminable waffling), but still not the film it desperately wants to be. Retaining many of the flaws of the theatrical version despite being more focused, it's not too surprising that Stone would return to the film for a third and even longer `final cut.' Still, it's refreshing and genuinely admirable that Stone on his audio commentaries for both versions stands by his cast, his film and takes sole blame for any shortcomings rather than take the Michael Bay route of blaming everyone and anyone but himself.
As for extras, the various versions offer a mixed bag. The two-disc edition of the theatrical cut offers an audio commentary by Oliver Stone and Robin Lane Fox; documentaries Resurrecting Alexander, Perfect is the Enemy of Good and The Death of Alexander; and teaser and full theatrical trailers. The UK edition of the shorter director's cut is less impressive on the extras front, offering only a commentary by Stone, though the US 2-disc version includes the documentaries from the theatrical version with an added featurette on Vangelis' score.
on 9 August 2007
I always liked this film at the cinema even though it generaly got a lot of bad reviews. However it was always obvious that there were several things wrong with the first cut in regards to paceing and a feeling of it not quite being a complete film. This revised cut of the film really sorts out the problems and feels like a much more polished film and more like what you would expect from Oliver Stone. As someone quite intersted in Alexander as a historical figure outside the film it satisfies on most levels. While there are still problems with a bit of miscasting (Farel imo didn't make a deep enough Alexander), dodgy hair cuts and hammy lines that dont really get the blood pumping like other films as a historical epic this is now a very enjoyable film. The musical score is also a bit old fashioned. Overall a worthy edition to anyones DVD collection who likes their history.
on 11 May 2015
In a bygone era in Hollywood this would have been the theatrical release, however bureaucracies are what they are and Oliver Stone had to compromise. If like me, you are a fan of Alexander the great and hated the theatrical release (for many reasons) this is the antidote and well worth purchasing. EVERYTHING about it is improved. The characters/scenes are given so much more room to breathe and add depth to themselves than before, especially the scenes with Philip and Olympias. Where before, Farrell's portrayal of Alexander was an unsure, insecure wet towel, here is portrayed as a young man torn between family loyalties and personal ambition. The structure is also changed, giving the film a greater sense of purpose than before. There will surely be other films of Alexander but I feel that Oliver Stone has achieved making the only film of THIS type; Boy, King, Legend.