Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Paul Cartlege's Responses to Oliver Stone's Alexander: Film, History, and Cultural Studies sounds intriguing

Responses to Oliver Stone's Alexander: Film, History, and Cultural Studies (Wisconsin Studies in Classics)Paul Cartledge's latest book exploring the historical accuracy of Oliver Stone's film "Alexander" and reasons for its less than enthusiastic reception at the box office sounds really interesting.  I was so anxious to see the film and so disappointed with the result that it would be interesting to read why others were equally disillusioned.  I actually found the critics who harped on such things as Colin Ferrell's bleach job to be just so uninformed they couldn't critique the film from a historical perspective (and too lazy to do any research).  Although there were historical inaccuracies, I just found the pacing of the film way too slow - especially the long droning voice over by Anthony Hopkins (and I personally normally like Anthony Hopkins).  Alexander was an exciting, charismatic personality and I felt the editing of the final cut was just poorly done or at least not done by someone with the same vision of Alexander as I had developed after reading the trilogy of novels written by Mary Renault (Fire From Heaven, The Persian Boy and Funeral Games) and the ancient biography by Appian.  Stone released a director's cut but what I would really like is a DVD of digital video of the movie that could be edited into a personal cut of the movie then shared on Hulu or another site that does not have a video length limit. Maybe the studio could sponsor a contest for "Best Cut of Alexander" or have categories like "Best Cut of Alexander from a Persian Viewpoint", etc.

"The charismatic Alexander the Great of Macedon (356–323 B.C.E.) was one of the most successful military commanders in history, conquering Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia, central Asia, and the lands beyond as far as Pakistan and India. Alexander has been, over the course of two millennia since his death at the age of thirty-two, the central figure in histories, legends, songs, novels, biographies, and, most recently, films. In 2004 director Oliver Stone’s epic film Alexander generated a renewed interest in Alexander the Great and his companions, surroundings, and accomplishments, but the critical response to the film offers a fascinating lesson in the contentious dialogue between historiography and modern entertainment.
    This volume brings together an intriguing mix of leading scholars in Macedonian and Greek history, Persian culture, film studies, classical literature, and archaeology—including some who were advisors for the film—and includes an afterword by Oliver Stone discussing the challenges he faced in putting Alexander’s life on the big screen. The contributors scrutinize Stone’s project from its inception and design to its production and reception, considering such questions as: Can a film about Alexander (and similar figures from history) be both entertaining and historically sound? How do the goals of screenwriters and directors differ from those of historians? How do Alexander’s personal relationships—with his mother Olympias, his wife Roxane, his lover Hephaistion, and others—affect modern perceptions of Alexander? Several of the contributors also explore reasons behind the film’s tepid response at the box office and subsequent controversies. " - Product Description, Amazon

 Alexander  Alexander the Great   Alexander the Great   Alexander the Great: Son of the Gods The Nature of Alexander   Fire from Heaven
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