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 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.
on 22 August 2007
Wow! I Revisited Alexander last night and although I enjoyed the first theatrical version, this is far superior. The main difference with this version is the incredible beginning, showing the Gaugamela battle first, which establishing the tone of the film and Alexander himself much more clearly. He appears as a great leader, with realistic and human relationships with his army.
This film is very long, but as Oliver Stone says at the beginning: it is unencumbered by normal theatrical running times and is a huge scale epic to be savoured and thought about slowly, and as an audience you never feel rushed, in fact I was disappointed when it was finished! The other main change is that throughout the main film, Stone dips in and out of Alexander's early life, using certain events as props to his later conquering years.
I could never understand the kind of criticism levelled at the original version of this film, especially the performances. Val Kilmer and Angelina Jolie add some marvellous drama and glamour and as for Colin Farrell, I thought he was astounding. He flawlessly conveys the love, pride, ruthless ambition and great heart of a fighter in all his scenes. He's absolutely mesmerising throughout the film and completely convincing.
I love everything about this magnificent, colourful and moving film and to the critics that dismissed it because of wigs, accents, and sudden changes of timeline, this intelligent and adult film experience is obviously not for you - go buy Not Another Teen Movie instead.
on 23 June 2006
Despite the reviews i have to admit i thought that this was a pretty good film. I was swayed by the film reviews when it came out and therefore when i watched it i was really disappointed. But then i watched it again on tv and i began to appreciate the film. The two battle scenes are fantastic emphasising the confusion in ancient battles. The fact the Gaugamela was the second best battle in film in the Empire magazine shows its quality.
Despite the views on the acting it hought some of the performance were very good. Val Kilmer as Phillip was in top form as was Angelina Jolie. It was some of the more unknown actors such as those that act as Cassander and Cleitus that make impressions.
It is also the scenes of tension between Alexander and his men between the fights that are very well done. The death of Cleitus and mutiny in India are highlights.
I personally think that too any people have been influenced by the reviews by critics and dont let their own minds make a judgement.
on 5 January 2016
A brilliant film with a star studded cast. The fight scenes are amazing, you almost feel like you could be there at times with them. This is not the best film for anyone who can't stand seeing snakes as they are a regular feature in Angelina Jolie ' s scenes. The only complaint is Colin Farrell 's hair he really doesn't suit it how his character has it and for big softies like me who get upset (yeah I know it's fake lol but they make it look so real it puts some human actors to shame) when an animal gets hurt on screen be warned
on 22 January 2007
Ignore those who berate this film. Mind you, ignore those who heap praise on it too. If you have an interest in, or understanding of alexander the great, then this film will both wildly frustrate & bewitch. To those who don't, god-knows what you'll think (though i suspect its running-time may be an issue).
Almost all its problems can be traced back to the script, an indictment many modern cinema-goers won't be particularly surprised to hear, but here, as with the similarly audacious Troy, smacks of a colossal wasted opportunity. Firstly, and somewhat significantly, Alexander's characterisation is misjudged and ultimately unrealistic (you wouldn't follow this charisma-lite, whinging alexander to the ends of the earth). Secondly, its jumps in time seem arbitrary, as though they're now a necessity & cinema has evolved from chronological presentation, but they end up surpressing a great deal of the story's tragedy.
But then the film's numerous qualities do take charge. Its beautiful realisation of significant moments in his story and evocation of an ancient world, through lavish production-design and breathtaking photography, will be enough to carry you through this (and rewatch in my case) - The entrance into Babylon for example, and the through-jungle charge on the elephants are quite simply stunning.
One other thing, if you think you might have a problem with 'Greeks' with Irish accents, don't bother with Alexander. But then this would be such a phenomenally small-minded and petty criticism of a film that you're probably better off with 'xXx' anyway.
The DVD has a three-minute introduction by Oliver Stone himself, who talks about the radical restructuring that he had overseen for the new three-and-a-half hour version. He says that this is the third cut and is for DVD only. I never saw either of the other earlier two editions of this film, so my review is blind as to how better or worse is this reconstruction. He says that he has had full freedom to do as he pleased, uncensored, and unhampered by the pressures of a cinema release or studio executives. "Those of you who loved the first Alexander will love it more, and those of you who hated it will hate it more. ... [It was] always a difficult film to understand, difficult to do." Alas there is no commentary to help us understand why this was the case and there are no extras.
Being a fan of other Oliver Stone movies (JFK and Nixon) I was at first unsure about his credentials to attack a non-American historical subject, and I feared his Alexander would be just another biopic made according to the Hollywood view of history. And my only previous experience of Alexander in a visual format was Michael Wood's excellent historico-travelogue for the BBC, "In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great". But I noted that the great English scholar and expert on all things Alexandrian (and more), Robin Lane Fox, was the historical consultant to the film.
The result of the restructuring is that, in effect, we have two films running at the same time - Alexander in Macedonia, and Alexander abroad. The (new) film opens on Alexander's deathbed, and then we move forward forty years to see and hear Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins) dictating his memoirs in Egyptian Alexandria. Ptolemy's commentary is heard at various points throughout the film and binds the whole story together, summing him up in an extended passage at the very end.
The film swiftly moves to the epic battle of Gaugamela, where a full twenty minutes is spent on makeshift speeches and then the gore of war. I do not know if the words put into Alexander's mouth in the film are in any way true to history, but the constant references to Greek freedom as opposed to Persian tyranny made me uncomfortable, as if this was in some way Stone condoning the debacle of Iraq, Gaugamela being sited in the Kurdish part of that blighted state. But then we see the twelve-year old Alexander being taught by Aristotle (Christopher Plummer) in which he warns his young charge that, "The East has a way of swallowing young men and their dreams." (An "I told you so!" to Bush?)
The battle is portrayed on a truly massive scale with an unexpected focus on tactics, the screen bearing references to the "Macedonian left", the "Macedonian right", etc. The scenes of the two great battles portrayed (the other being that of Hydaspes on the Indian frontier) are true gorefests. Some battle scenes unfortunately suffer from undercranking (slowing the film when shooting and then speeding it back up for the screen) and there are some editing problems too throughout the film - at one point Angelina Jolie speaks without her lips moving (but, then, given her character, maybe this was intentional).
No review of this film can fail to mention the prevalence of Irish accents amongst the Macedonians. Even the young Alexander aged twelve has an Irish accent, so full marks for consistency. Maybe other reviewers know why Oliver Stone did this, and I know it has come in for some criticism, but for me, once it was noted, it was soon forgotten as the film progressed. And when all is said and done, would the film be better with American accents?
The more times I watched this movie, the more I appreciated its strengths. The death of Philip and the acclamation of Alexander are particularly well-handled. The cast as a whole give true and convincing performances. The fine music by Vangelis (who else?) provides complete support for the visuals of tension, romance, exoticism, and glory, so much so that I bought the CD. I could even appreciate Oliver Stone's own appearance for a couple of seconds on-screen.
In the end, I had to concede that this movie's epic scale, matched by its assured intimacy, its power to carry the viewer along and its power to move, could only mean that it had to have five stars.