…well, four but is that is enough in less than 10 years…, right?
Alexander. Oliver Stone’s epic biopic of the legendary conquer was troubled from day one. The master film-maker who had brought us Platoon (1986), Born On The Fourth Of July (1989) and JFK (1991), was now tacking something outside his comfort zone and it showed.
Having a score by Vangelis was not the best choice, nor was Colin Farrell’s wig, but this film was far from rubbish. It was epic, grandiose and visually stunning, with some stand out performances to contrast the equally hammy ones, wooden speeches and confused narrative.
But the idea of a horse facing of against an elephant and battle scenes which in scale stand not only the test of time but most also stand as some of the cinemas best, whilst suffering from the same problem as the film as a whole. Poor pacing. The first major battle has Alexander (Colin Farrell) riding his horse, on and on and on…
So, can we blame Stone for re-cutting the 175 minute movie down to a more palatable 167 minutes Director’s Cut, one of the few examples of shortening am film, in response to film’s poor reviews and performance? No entirely, but this was not good enough either, probably because it was released on the same day as the Theatrical Cut of the film, rather confusing the audience and pointing out that nobody has any faith in the project.
It is at this point that you should cut your losses but no… role on 2007 and the FINAL CUT, Alexander Revisited, a 214 minute epic version ans well as the longest and to be honest, if you are going to produce a Director’s Cut, the longer the better in my opinion, as the audience is getting more for their money.
But then in 2014, the cynicism continued as the yet ANOTHER cut was release on Blu-ray, The Ultimate Cut, negating the so-called FINAL CUT’s claim, this having a 207 minute running time.
So, what’s the score?
Well, I’ll tell you. Alexander is a good film. Not a great film, not a masterpiece but many of its constituent elements are masterful, with Stone’s visual style and emotional volatility and vulnerability coursing throughout in a way which is rarely seen in a mainstream epic. Alexander himself is portrayed as a believable, emotionally weak man, whose charisma and charm only serves him so much.
And what about the love story between Farrell and Jared Letto, a homosexual sub-plot which played out with no fanfare what-so-ever back in 2004, two years before Ang Lee would be winning Oscars and other awards for Brokeback Mountain (2006). The problem is that if they had just left the 175 minute Theatrical Cut alone in the first place then people would have had a chance to take on the movie for what it was as possibly recognise that it was underrated in the first place.
But by announcing from the day of the initial DVD release that they had no faith in it themselves, they doomed their own work, forcing Stone and his producers to continually re-invent the film in order to sell it again and again.
In conclusion, it is my feeling that the audience was robbed of the right to embrace this film over time and have been given version after version in order to tidy it up but the Theatrical Cut wasn’t that bad! It was baggy, yes, but it was not incomprehensible or unwatchable, it was a slightly long-winded epic which needed some more time in the editing suit and quite frankly, a different director but since it had Oliver Stone, Stone managed to litter the film with some stunning visuals and mould it around a strong emotional core.
Give this film a chance but pick a version and stick to it, the same advice which I would the producers. LET IT GO!