This news just in: Alexander is not the stinker it has been made out to be. At least that’s the conclusion of this headlifer, who saw Oliver Stone’s new movie last night. True, it lacks the pace and passion of Gladiator, but if you like Swords-and-Sandals (and eunuchs and bisexual affairs–and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then Alexander is just about worth 3 hours of bum-numbing attention. Yes, it’s a long movie, but Alexander marched 22,000 over 13 years, so what do you want? If it’s camp and a little preachy so be it: so is Shakespeare.
So B+. But I’m a little aggravated by the stench of hypocrisy wafting this way from Stone Mansion. I think Stone wants us to like Alexander. “He’s a dashing-warrior king who had a vision of compassion, generosity of spirit and peace,” Stone said. “He was not a needless killer, he was not a butcher.”
Au contraire. Alexander was many things and “butcher” squares with his long resume. Just because he built the odd library doesn’t hide the fact that Alexander had a insatiable imperial ambition and slaughtered anyone who got in his way.
Stone admits that, “at times he did massacre, but these were hard times. He did so with a purpose, with a reason.” Ah. That’s OK then: he was bringing the world “democracy” so the bloodshed was excusable. Now, if that’s what Stone really thinks then fine, enjoy the movie. But whereas Alexander is his flawed hero, George W. Bush is his villain. “I started this thing before all this nightmare came down, this morass,” Stone has said of the Iraq war. “Alexander was beautiful because he saw beyond conflict into a synthesis. I’m not so sure our present administration does. It’s great that they say, ‘Democracy, blah, blah, blah,’ but you have to modify democracy to the local customs.”
Believe me, Stone’s Alexander has a lot of the same blah (“I had to kill Cleitus because he was getting in the way of my vision of peace and love”). Whether you believe any of it is a personal call, but I cannot see how in Stone’s world Bush is any different–he too has a noble vision, and the damage is, well, collateral. Perhaps George should get a boyfriend and highlight his hair. Maybe then Hollywood will like him better.