In which Gerry Hayes looks at Alexander The Great and thinks, ‘the hair proves it.’
Directed by Oliver Stone.
Starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins, Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson and tons more.
Written by Oliver Stone, Christopher Kyle and Laeta Kalogridis.
Christ, another epic. Stone gives us the story of Alexander, the little, blond Irish bloke who conquered the world while wearing a funny helmet that made him look like that Martian from the Looney Tunes cartoons.
Farrell plays the eponymous hero. As is usual for our Col, he can’t really rid himself of his Irish accent and rewriting his character to explain this by his having an Irish father - or some such nonsense - wasn’t really an option in a historical biopic. Stone attempts to get around this by distracting the audience with the aforementioned stupid, blond head and ridiculous helmet.
He needn’t have bothered really, as he obviously missed the fact that everyone else in this film speaks in their own accents too. Against the general mish-mash of confusion that is Alexander, this multi-cultural aspect adds another layer of disarray.
Lets see. Alexander is heir to the kingdom of Macedonia. His dad is a cyclops (Kilmer) and his mum (Jolie) is a mentalist, sex-pot with some weird paraphilia for snakes. To her credit, at least Jolie doesn’t speak with her own accent in the film. Instead, she borrows hers from the Count in Sesame Street. “There is one Alexander. One! Ahh ha ha ha ha!”
Alexander has his own sexual hang-ups. He might be in love with his best friend, Hephaistion (Leto) who is - gasp - a man. Either Stone or the studio plays it safe though and all the audience really sees are longing, lingering glances between the two whereas, Alexander’s tryst with Rosario Dawson has boobies and everything.
Right. Have we got everything then... Alexander loves a bloke, and the eunuchs, and his mum (everybody loves their mum). Despite this, he gets married to Dawson and has wild sex. He loves his dad but his dad doesn’t love him. And he’s a bit short, with silly hair. All the ingredients for a nutter then.
And, as you might expect, he goes off conquering the world to prove to his dad that he’s all man.
Or something... Oliver Stone wrote this so there’s probably a bundle of contemporary parallels and deeper meanings related to machiavellian, political machinations and how war is an easy-sell in a culture, subservient to an avaricious ruling elite, that's been made compliant by enforced consumerism and the bias of a controlling media. I’m not sure - I was distracted by the hair.
Anyway, given that Alexander did actually conquer most of the known world, there are the inevitable battle scenes. And for the most part, these are pretty impressive. The ‘literal’ bird’s-eye view didn’t really work for me but it served its purpose. Personally, I could have done with more battles and less lingering looks or Count Chocula impressions but, I admit, I’d probably have been complaining about ‘dumbing down’ then and bemoaning the lack of anything more cerebral. There’s no pleasing me.
Well, there is, but Alexander isn’t the film to do it. If you know nothing of Alexander The Great, you won’t really come away with much more knowledge that you had at the beginning (despite Hopkin’s narration making it feel like a history lesson). This would be ok if the film accomplished something - anything - else but it doesn’t. It’s a few battle scenes and three hours of Irish accents and sub-Freudian confusion.
Good hair, though.
Read more I Sat Through That? right here.
Gerry Hayes is a garret-dwelling writer subsisting on tea, beer and Flame-Grilled Steak flavour McCoy’s crisps. You can read about other stuff he doesn't like on his blog at http://stareintospace.com or you can have easy, bite-sized bits of him at http://twitter.com/gerryhayes