'Alexander' the Not-so-Great

By Celeste Meiffren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Sigmund Freud theorized that humans do not have a large capacity for dealing with traumatic or troubling events. He asserted the way that a lot of people can and do deal with these events is through symbolic representation of them.

For example, Freud might well have made a connection between the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the storyline of "Ladder 49." That movie was a sort of societal catharsis to come to terms with what happened to the firefighters, without having to actually deal with it straight on.

I postulate that Oliver Stone's "Alexander" is a subconscious and symbolic representation of the changing global structure, specifically our involvement in Iraq. Allow me to explain.

The story of Alexander the Great (Colin Farell) is known by most people who have gone through the eighth grade. Alexander was a Macedonian conqueror, who conquered 90 percent of the known world by the age of 25. One of his "greatest" accomplishments was his conquest of Persia - the contemporary Middle East. In the movie, Alexander said that his fundamental reason for conquering Persia was "to free the Persian people" - in effect, creating several small Macedonian colonies throughout Persia. Sound familiar?

Also, the actor that they chose to play the Persian general looks exactly like Osama bin Laden. They also have Alexander yelling to him something to the extent of, "you can run, but you can't hide."

After his conquest of Persia, Alexander took his army through Egypt and then to the eastern coast of India. It was in India that Alexander became a selfish leader by forcing his soldiers to fight bloody wars for his own interest in the discovery and conquest of new lands.


2 out of 10

I am not suggesting that the filmmakers intended to create a movie that is a commentary on the Iraq war and bin Laden consciously, but I do not think that it's only a coincidence. It provides an interesting sociological and psychological study of human behavior and its interaction with the arts - specifically film.

The story itself is interesting. As for the quality of filmmaking, it is not good at all. At 173 minutes, "Alexander" will test your will and strength as a moviegoer. Should you choose to stay for its entirety, there is no big payoff at the end. It is simply a catastrophic attempt at a biopic/action/period piece, without ever giving voice to the true importance of the story. You will find yourself wondering, "yeah, and...?"

As for the acting, it was sub-par. Farrell was the only halfway decent one, while Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Jared Leto and even Anthony Hopkins seemed to be detached from their respective characters. I was always conscious that they were acting - or trying to.

The bad acting coupled with the daytime drama-like music gave the picture an unintentionally campy feel. The dialogue was either trite or overreaching. The action scenes were too obviously computer enhanced with a cheesy CGI hawk guiding the focus of the cinematography. The whole movie had a very clichéd feel to it and it made me embarrassed for the filmmakers while I was watching it.

The only somewhat compelling storyline was the relationship between Alexander and his gay lover Hephaistion. But even that was half-assed. They only show the lovers hug. And what lovers do you know who only hug?

Oliver Stone has lost his touch. He is spiraling downward as a director, and I fear that it is only going to get worse. His is a name I worry I will no longer be able to trust.

Only go see this movie if you are interested in its political relevance and psychological implications. I do not suggest going if you intend to have a fun and worthy moviegoing experience.

"Alexander" is an extreme disappointment, especially since it was promised to be one of the best movies of the year. But you don't have to take my word for it. Fortune apparently favors the bold, so have at it.