Responses to Oliver Stone’s Alexander, film, history and cultural studies, edited by Paul Cartledge and Fiona Rose Greenland (ISBN 978-029923284-9), what can I say? So much has been said about the Alexander movie – mostly critics in the sense of finding fault – that I fail to see the purpose of this book.
It was recommended to me by an Alexander fan as “quite interesting”. Mmmm, maybe it is just that and nothing more. The many authors contributing to this book have all their own vision, generally their own reasons or arguments to tear down the movie. It is so easy to find fault and to point out the shortcomings that little or no room is left for what Oliver Stone has accomplished.
Renown and lesser known authors have joined forces here to submit the Alexander movie to a close scrutiny. The people contributing to this book are the following:
Joanna Paul, Oliver Stone’s Alexander and the Cinematic Epic Tradition
Jon Solomon, The Popular Reception of Alexander
Robin Lane Fox, Alexander on Stage: A Critical Appraisal of Rattigan’s Adventure Story
Kim Shahabudin, The Appearance of History: Robert Rossen’s Alexander the Great
Marilyn B. Skinner, Alexander and Ancient Greek Sexuality: Some Theoretical Considerations
Elizabeth D. Carney, Olympias and Oliver: Sex, Sexual Stereotyping, and Women in Oliver Stone’s Alexander
Monica Silveira Cyrino, Fortune Favors the Blond: Colin Farrell in Alexander
Jeanne Harrison, The Cult of Hephaestion
Thomas Harrison, Oliver Stone, Alexander, and the Unity of Mankind
Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, “Help me, Aphrodite!” Depicting the Royal Women of Persia in Alexander
Verity Platt, Viewing the Pas: Cinematic Exegesis in the Caverns of Macedon
John F. Cherry, Blockbuster! Museum Responses to Alexander the Great
Oliver Stone, Afterword
Is this book adding anything to the historical Alexander? No. Is this book helping to understand the Alexander movie? No. Is this book bringing some new elements? No. Except for individual contemplations and practical/financial/theatrical elements, I fail to see the purpose of putting this book together. The best part is still Oliver Stone’s own Afterword, although it is far too long as everything is being said half-way through this chapter.
For me, personally, the Alexander movie is the best picture ever made about Alexander the Great. Most people seem to ignore that for once we have here an “entire” image of Alexander, in spite of the historical misrepresentations and incoherencies. One of these, and which is not mentioned by any of the critics, is the fact that the Battle of the Hydaspes is set in the jungle instead of the river banks; another discrepancy is the presence of Cassander through the entire campaign for he remained in Macedonia. Yet, I immediately recognized each and every one of his Companions and was “pulled” into the story from the beginning. The entire “spirit” of Alexander was present although many have expressed complaints about missing parts or aspects. The critics seem to forget that Alexander’s life was far too complex, too active, too magnanimous and too genial to be told in three hours time for a public largely unacquainted with history or with Alexander the Great.
So, for all intents and purposes, I want to stress that I do NOT want to start any discussion about the movie, not here, not now, not later. In the end, it all comes down to our own love/hate relation with the figure of Alexander - one that is going on for 2,500 years and still continues to this very day.