Friday, March 16, 2007

Alexander


In an age when emperors were gods, Alexander the Great was supreme. He conquered his enemies despite having much less. Like a hot knife through butter, his army went from Greece to India; leaving a dead carcass that was once the most powerful empire in the world – Persia.

Unfortunately, for all the fame and glory that the Macedonian conqueror got, the film that bears his name is a dud. People hardly remember it now. Definitely disappointment for one of Hollywood’s up and coming star, Colin Farrell.

Twists and new endings are two luxuries a movie like Alexander cannot have. And it seems Oliver Stone did not even give it a try. Finishing the entire film was a waste of time. I felt that I can all the information that I needed by just watching the conqueror series of Discovery channel, where Alexander the Great was featured. If thinking out of the box actually had a box, then the film was perfect fit. The box is sealed without so much of a peep out of it.

The film’s 3 hour run time showed everything that was expected. Alexander was courageous, bold, ruthless, and generous. He showed out of the box thinking in the heat of battle, and never was this trait more successful than in the Battle of Gaugamela.

After the Persian Empire’s death at Gaugamela, Alexander’s power began on its slow decline. Here Oliver Stone started brewing a conspiracy within the Greek camp. This decision to include a conspiracy was a stand on an issue that has been debated since the days of the young conqueror: Did Alexander die of murder or sickness?

Philip of Macedon (Val Kilmer) was prophetic when said to his young son: “A king isn't born, Alexander, he is made. By steel and by suffering. A king must know how to hurt those he loves. It's lonely. Ask anyone. Ask Herakles. Ask any of them. Fate is cruel. No man or woman can be too powerful or too beautiful without disaster befalling. They laugh when you rise too high. And they crush everything you've built with a whim. What glory they give in the end, they take away. They make of us slaves.”

Acting wise Farrell’s accent came out too strongly. Whenever he talks I always get this idea that I am watching Highlander. I know, I know, Colin Farrell is Irish and the highlands refer to Scotland, but it keeps popping in my mind. It’s very distracting.

Over the course of the film he always seemed to be shouting. I think it was to make a point that Alexander, though respected and feared, was not really understood. The shouting could also be a means to show strength of character: a character so strong that it ruled the world.

It is that character that has kept me awake in the course of 3 hours, but then, I am not everybody. Ultimately the lack of imagination of the filmmaker and bad acting caused the film to suffer the fate of its character; it was never understood.