Oliver Stone’s version of the story of Alexander the Great came out in 2004 to a tepid response. It opened in sixth place and some people were not thrilled with the idea of Colin Farrell playing a blonde Alexander. Perhaps it is somewhat difficult to cover the story in such a way as to make it attractive to mainstream audiences and at the same time satisfy the historical enthusiasts who would scream the loudest if any inconsistencies appear or liberties taken.
The film had a lot of controversy from Greeks, historians, and Greek historians. Nevertheless, Alexander has got plenty of oomph in its battle scenes and a strong, ambitious sense of geopolitical sweep. It is certainly an ambitious and sincere film. But fails to find a focus for its elusive subject.
The film is a historical epic in search of a tone it never quite conquers. The movie is three-hour labor of love is simply laborious, a ponderous behemoth that favors breathy exposition over the more battle-savvy aspects of the young king who by the age of 32 ruled virtually all of the known world.
Our very real-life hero absolutely outclasses those wimpy beta-males of military history such as Achilles, Caesar, and Napoleon. Macedonia’s Alexander the Great had conquered most of the known world by the time he was 25; at the time of his death at the age of 32 in 323 BC, he presided over a vast empire stretching across Central Asia.
Alexander (Colin Farrell) is the son of Philip of Macedonia (Val Kilmer) and Queen Olympias (Angelina Jolie). As a boy, he sees his drunken father all but rapes his mother, who for her part insists Alexander’s actual father is Zeus, but doesn’t give details. Young Alexander impresses his father by taming an intractable horse, but both mother and son are banished from the kingdom, Olympias advising her son to seize the throne before Philip has him murdered. As things work out, Philip is murdered, and Alexander rules Macedonia.
Still a very young man, he sets out to conquer the known world. Told by Aristotle (Christopher Plummer) where the world ends, he finds it keeps ongoing, and so he keeps on conquering, defeating the other Greek city-states, the Persians, and all the other peoples he confronts until he is finally defeated not so much by the rulers of India as by India itself. He dies at 32.
One of the best scenes in the movie is The battle of Gaugamela, in which perhaps a quarter of a million men, under King Darius III, were put to rout by Alexander with a force of less than fifty thousand. We are blessed with an eagle-eyed view of Gaugamela—literally so, with the eagle in question scything above the conflict, from one sand-whipped flank to the other.
The real battle Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between the forces of the Army of Macedon under Alexander the Great and the Persian Army under King Darius III. It was the second and final battle between the two kings and is considered to be the final blow to the Achaemenid Empire, resulting in Alexander’s complete invasion of the empire.