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Saturday, November 27, 2004
Alexander: Not So Great

By Steven Taylor @ 12:13 pm

(Or so say the reviews).

Via Reuters: Critics Blast ‘Alexander’ But Novelist Defends It

While critics savaged Oliver Stone’s long-waited epic “Alexander,” novelist and social activist Gore Vidal rallied to the $160 million movie’s defense saying it was “barrier-breaking” because of its frank depiction of bisexuality.

Stone’s film opened on Wednesday to near universal pans from critics who called it everything from a “noble failure” to an “indifferent epic.”

The Charlotte, North Carolina, Observer said the movie was “an act of hubris so huge, that, in Alexander’s time, it would draw lightning bolts from contemptuous gods.”

Vidal said the critics failed to see it was a seminal movie because of its treatment of Alexander’s bisexuality.

The fact that the predominant discussion about this movie is the bisxexual nature of Alexander the Great is a clear indication that the movie is a failure. I say this not because of any issue of bisexuality: it is no shock that a Greek/Macedonian of the day would have engaged in homosexual acts-gee whiz, read Plato. For that matter, there is historical evidence to suggest that Alexander and Hephaistion were more than friends.

To which I say: big deal.

However, if one makes a movie about one of the greatest military geniuses of all time, a man who conquered the known world, and so forth and the main thing that everyone notices about the film is the bisexuality issue (which is not central according to Ebert’s review), then one would think that Stone missed the boat.

This would be true if the main thing that the critics were talking about was Alexaner’s marriage to Roxanne.

The man conquered the entire Persian Empire, for crying out loud: his sex life isn’t the most interesting part of his life, no matter how allegedly interesting it may have been.

Further, between comments I have heard from Stone, and now these from Vidal, it seems that there is a political undercurrent here to promote the idea that we should extol bisexuality, with Alexander as a vehicle for that message:

The film, based on historical accounts, deals matter-of-factly with the ancient Macedonian king’s affairs with both men and women - an issue many in Hollywood predicted would harm its box office chances.

In an interview with Reuters, Vidal said the film was “a breakthrough in what you can make films about. Movies are always the last to register changes in society and this movie does it.”

Vidal’s novels and plays, including the hit drama “The Best Man,” often deal with once taboo gay themes. He said American filmmakers had thrown up a wall against showing bisexuality out of fear of alienating the public.

  • Hennessy\’s View linked with Alexander

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  1. Somebody told me that Alexander was about a sponge who chased after a golden crown to defeat an evil plankton. I really didn’t pick up that plot in the movie.

    Comment by John Lemon — Saturday, November 27, 2004 @ 3:36 pm

  2. If provoking discussion of homo and bi-sexuality is the mark of success, then Queer as Folk is the GREATEST TV SHOW OF ALL TIME

    Comment by Shark — Saturday, November 27, 2004 @ 10:08 pm

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