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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Alexander (2004)

I watched this movie with my youngest son after reading a lengthy and somewhat sobering account of Alexander the Great's life. While the Greeks of his day were monogamous, the Macedonians were not, and Alexander's mother was the third wife of Phillip II.  The movie portrays Olympia as a scheming woman who may or may not have had Phillip killed after wife number four had a son.  Phillip II developed and perfected a new form of war fare and Alexander learned it at his side in battle.  He was a master horseman who miraculously had one horse through his many years of war.  Bucephalus was a horse that by all accounts he tamed and who survived with him in bloody wars where they were out manned and out horsed.  Truly a remarkable story, and Alexander's legacy as the greatest field commander who ever lived seems to be richly deserved.
Oliver Stone's retelling of his life does not gloss over the low points in Alexander's life.  Olympia (well played by Angelina Jolie, a woman who was not afraid to play the role of mother to a grown man) is paranoid, smothering, and a little creepy.  Alexander (played by Colin Farrell) aptly says of her that she sought a high price for the nine months he spent in her body.  Alexander has a close and loyal childhood friend, Hephaestion (played by the very beautiful Jared Leto) who is his right hand man on the battle field and probably has shared his bed on more than one occasion.  All of this is probably a true depiction, as is the single mindedness that Alexander took to conquering much of the known world without any sense of how to rule it all.  He wore his troops out, and left a kingdom that no one man could ever rule again.  The story is told through the eyes of Ptolemy (played by Anthony Hopkins), who went directly to Egypt upon Alexander's death, eliminated all the local contenders for the governorship, and built a dynasty that lasted until Cleopatra rattled the cage of Rome and the Ptolemy's were wiped out.

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