Alexander (2004)

Reviewer: Shannon H.

 

The old adage that "power corrupts" rings true. Caligula, Tiberius, Napoleon Bonaparte, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Adolf Hitler, and Josef Stalin aptly fit this old saying. So does Alexander. He conquered most of the known ancient world in his mid-20's to his early 30's and the power of ruling an empire went straight to his head. The film is a biopic of Macedonian king Alexander ("Alexander the Great") who brought giant armies to their knees, even when they outnumbered his own forces. It starts out with Alexander as a child. His mother Olympias (Angelina Jolie) teaches him the ways of the world and what to do in life. Olympias is a sorceress who surrounds herself with snakes (the snakes are an important symbol in this film; take note). She tells her son to take advantage of what would lie ahead of him. Apparently, this advice would cost him later on in life.

 

His father, Philip of Macedonia (Val Kilmer) is a drunken, abusive man who treats Olympias like dirt and at one point tries to violently rape her in front of young Alexander. It is implied that Philip is an adulterer and sleeps with both men and women. Needless to say, Alexander is not pleased with his drunken father's behavior. Alexander finally grows up to manhood (Colin Ferrell) and becomes king of Macedonia after his father is assassinated. He decides to go and conquer the east to help bring Europe and Asia together. Alexander gathers forces to face Persian king Darius, whose army is a lot bigger and stronger than Alexander's, and devises a method to beat the Persians. The Greeks are successful but Alexander fails to kill King Darius. He and his army enter Babylon where he and his men are treated like kings. From that point on Alexander enjoys victory after victory, taking more land and increasing his empire.

 

Alexander finally gets to India where he hopes to "liberate" the people. Much like Napoleon at Russia and Waterloo, this is Alexander's downfall. he only moral for this film is the old saying, "Power corrupts." Alexander has gained an empire so big that it was nearly impossible to rule it all by himself (which is why it crumbled after he died). One of his advisors argues with him, calling Alexander a "despot" who was corrupted by power (his honesty cost him his life, as Alexander had him stabbed to death).  As far as historical accuracy is concerned, it appears to be quite accurate since one of the film's consultants is a scholar on ancient civilization. Being a history major, I believe it is honest (though my specialization is not ancient history), but the sexual content makes it hard to recommend.



 

Sexual Content:

Philip abuses and beats his wife as he rapes her (this is shown in a flashback later in the film; both Philip and Olympias are clothed). Alexander tries to forcefully rape his wife Roxane (Rosario Dawson) when she refuses to consummate their marriage. He tears off all her clothing (full frontal nudity) and then graphically forces her. We see a shot of Colin Ferrell's bare derriere as he gets into bed (it's implied that he sleeps with his male lover during this scene). It's also implied that Alexander has a homosexual relationship with Hephaistion (Jared Leto). In reality (aside from the movie), Alexander was bisexual and had three wives and a male lover. Alexander also surrounds himself with feminine-looking men and kisses a male dancer. 

  

Language:

There are a few vulgar expressions.

  

Violence:

The violence is very heavy and gory; one battle scene depicts men practically covered head-to-toe in blood. Those "disloyal" to Alexander are brutally stabbed.

 

Other:

Since the Greeks and Macedonians are polytheistic, they make references to their many gods such as Zeus, Hera, Posideon, etc., which are opposite of what the Christian faith teaches us (then again, this was three centuries before the birth of Christ). 


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