Went with Matt to the Arclight to see Oliver Stone’s latest “opus” – a nearly-three hour long tome on the life of Alexander the Great. In Alexander, Irishman Colin Farrell takes on the role as the young Macedonian who conquered a huge swatch of Eurasia by the time he was 30. Stone, no stranger to controversy, portrays Alexander as an ambitious man driven to power by the manipluations of his mother Olympias (Angelina Jolie), and the guilt of the role she might have played in the suspicious murder of his overbearing father Philip (Val Kilmer).
The story is told in “flashback” form by Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins) from the famous library in Alexandria, Egypt. We see Alexander as a boy, being maniplated by his mother from the start. (The actor who plays young Alexander was perfectly cast; he has the same eyes as Farrell!) We see him as an adult, trying to balance the pressures of his mother to take power, while at the same time trying to honor his father.
As Alexander eventually expands his domain, by conquering Persia and then moving into India, he is pressured to take a wife and produce an heir. Of course, Alexander’s love was for Hephastion (Jared Leto), but that aspect of Alexander’s life is only suggested through furtive glances, hugs, and emotional tearyness. Yeah, this is a pretty “gay film”, but it’s not like Top Gun, which was by far one of the gayest studio films ever made.
The battle scenes are brutal. They don’t hold back, and the ferocity and intensity with which they are executed rival Gladiator and most Paul Verhoeven films (without being excessively gory). The battle at Gaugamela is a truly evocative sequence, as is the final battle in India with the elephants.
There is no shortage of symbolism throughout the film, either. Snakes, hawks, and ancient myths all play their parts. Being an Oliver Stone film, I was surprise that his use of pervasive flash cuts only make their appearance more towards the end of the film. Still, it was quite effective and works really well. The music, by Vangelis, serves as nice emotional underscore, but I feel works better on the album.
When the movie ended, the main thing that stuck out in my head was Angelina Jolie’s performance. I would not hesistate to give her an Oscar nomination for this role. She’s striking on film, and there are some moments that were truly shining. At nearly three hours long, the film moves quickly – I didn’t feel like I had been sitting for so long in the chair. It’s worth it for Angelina’s performance.