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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

“Fortune favors the bold”—Virgil, The Aeneid

Alexander (2004) on IMDb

Plot Overview

This film is based on the life of Alexander the Great (356-323 b.c.), King of Macedon and one of history's greatest military leaders, who conquered Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia and part of Ancient India. The opening is abstract featuring a stone model of his head, and a large bird of prey swooping down to fade into a closeup of the statue juxta­posing the great king and the predator. The camera then focuses on an eagle in flight surveying the territory it's patrolling, which segues into a narrative by Alexander's confidant Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins) going back and forth over his great but brief life.

As a child young Alexander (Connor Paolo) was manipulated by his mother Queen Olympias (Angelina Jolie), disciplined by his aloof father King of Macedon, Philip II (Val Kilmer), tutored in Greek culture by Aristotle (Christopher Plummer), bested at wrestling by his bosom buddy young Hephaistion (Patrick Carroll), and was given an unmanage­able mount to ride Bucephalus. He shows him­self to be a self-starter.

As a newly crowned king Alexander III (Colin Farrell) proceeds to conquer the superior forces of the Persian empire led by Emperor Darius III at the Battle of Gaugamela, then move on to an eight-year campaign across Asia and parts unknown until his generals persuade him to with­draw with dignity once they reach the fag end of their rope in the Indus Valley. The returned hero endures palace intrigue, but succumbs at age 33 to a bout of Typhus brought back from India … or was it some­thing else?


Philip told Alexander to, “All your life beware of women. They're far more dangerous than men.” So much of this movie deals with such drama. Historian J.M. Roberts reports that Alexander “married Darius' daughter as his second wife (his first was a Bactrian princess)” (42). In the movie after Alexander's wedding to Babylonian princess Roxane (Rosario Dawson), he was criticized that, “Your father must be turning in his grave, Alexander. After all this time, a hill chief's daughter? Do you call this tribal wedding legitimate?” It might be useful to compare that ancient mind-set to Christianity during its early spread. From visionary Maria Valtorta, 631. The Last Teachings before Ascension-Day: (430)

II In the Mosaic religion matrimony is a contract. In the new Christian religion let it be a sacred indissoluble act, on which may the grace of the Lord descend to make of husband and wife two ministers of His in the propagation of the human race. From the very first moments try to advise the consort belonging to the new religion to convert the consort, who is still out of the number of the believers, to enter and become part of it, to avoid those painful divisions of thought, and consequently of peace, that we have noticed also among our­selves. But when it is a question of believers in the Lord, for no reason what­soever what God united is to be dissolved. And when a consort is Christian and is united to a heathen, / advise that consort to bear his/her cross with patience, meekness and also with strength, to the extent of dying to defend his/her faith, but with­out leaving the consort whom he/she married with full consent. This is My advice for a more perfect life in the matrimonial state, until it will be possible, with the diffusion of Christianity, to have marriages between believers. Then let the bond be sacred and indissoluble, and the love holy.

1 Corinthians 7The apostle Paul looked upon mixed marriage as an occasion for Christian influence on the unbelieving partner, (1Cor. 7:16) “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” Paul's answer in addressing some questions of the Corinthians appears to have been in the present tense, regarding an existing marriage of a Christian to an unbeliever, but he allows for such influence on an unbeliever to apply to developing composites as well, (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether … the world, or … things present, or things to come; all are your's.” In the early days of Christianity, there just might not have been enough available believers from whom to make a suit­able match, so a Christian single might have to select an unbeliever and then try to convert him or her.

Let's borrow from the apostle's admonition to the widow to see what that might look like: (1Cor. 7:39) “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” To proceed in the Lord might entail, (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” In this particular case, (Luke 15:4) “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” A Christian single might also reject available Christian suitors in order to make a special project to convert an unbeliever through his or her influence in marriage.

When Roxane was barren, the advice became, Parmenion: “At the very least, for Zeus's sake and out of respect for the council that chose you king, give us a Macedonian heir.” ¶Alexander: “You forget, Parmenion, that my father took a barbarian as his queen.” ¶Parmenion: “Yes, and few would call it a profoundly happy marriage.” Is Paul also change­able to refute his earlier permission? In his second letter to the Corinthians he says he's, (2Cor. 4:2) “... not handling the word of God deceit­fully.” An example of deceit can be found when, (Gen. 34:13) “And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.” They told them they were allowed to inter­marry but used it as a ruse to gain an advantage, because actually they weren't amenable to it. Paul wasn't being deceitful, so after he tells us in first Corinthians a mixed marriage is permissible, he's not going to tell us in second Corinthians it's not.

Johnson states Alexander, “had mixed Greeks and Asians in his army so that it became a more cosmopolitan force” (ibid.) Paul goes through multiple chapters on church life to get to the principle, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” that's then supported by Old Testament examples as I've expounded in another study. Christians are not supposed to mix other religions with their worship and service. The plural ye puts it to the church in the aggregate. Applied to marriage it would be like a New Age guru performing one of those mass weddings where the cult makes the matches. Johnson notes that Alexander “once presided at a mass wedding of 9,000 of his soldiers to eastern women” (ibid.) In this movie is observed by Antigonus: “Never will our people accept this girl's son as king. They'll be angry enough when they find out their husbands all have second wives in Barbaria.” ¶Alexander: [laughing] “Then they'll learn!” New Bible trans­lations tend to substitute the nonspecific you for both singular (thee, thou) and plural (you, ye) second person pronouns. When quoted that way, the verse, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” becomes nonspecific regarding number and is then used by some as a proof text to dissuade an individual Christian from a mixed marriage (to an unbeliever.) For example from Nasaw, “If the other Witnesses found out she was seeing some­body out­side the faith, they'd have shunned her. Kicked her out of her apartment, turned their backs to her on the street. She'd have been a complete out­cast. For her it would have been like losing her home, her family, and her friends simul­taneously” (231). This movie helps us ponder an ancient mind-set that separates an individually considered action (allowed) from a mass compromise (not allowed.)

Production Values

This Director's Cut “Alexander” (2004) was directed by Oliver Stone. It was written by Oliver Stone, Christopher Kyle, and Laeta Kalogridis. It stars Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins, and Rosario Dawson. Val Kilmer beneath layers of makeup is suitably evil as King Philip of Macedonia. Angelina Jolie success­fully plays the twisted queen mother although she seems too beautiful for this slime­ball king. Colin Farrell makes a rather tepid Alexander. Rosario Dawson comes across as a foreign bitch par excellence, but the casting was generally mediocre. It's a very camp film with some god­awful dialogue, distracting accents and superfluous dancing & partying.

MPAA rated it R for violence and some sexuality/nudity. Runtimes start at 175 minutes | 167 minutes (director's cut) | 214 minutes (final cut) | 206 minutes (Ultimate Cut). The director's cut I saw seemed long and Machiavellian what with jumps in time period and motivations. The script was a let­down and the direction was nothing to write home about. As a spectacle, though, it came through in art direction, costume design, cinema­tog­raphy and editing. Vangelis's other­worldly soundtrack didn't hurt any either. Unfortunately it was weighed down with too much commentary and theater.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This film is an epic disaster; it's sprawling, messy and incoherent. The Great Alexander deserved better.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: None of the Above. Suspense: Predictable. Overall product rating: three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Nasaw, Jonathan. The Girls He Adored. New York: Pocket Books, 2001. Print.

Roberts, J.M. A History of Europe. New York: Penguin Press, 1997. Print.

Valtorta, Maria. 631. The Last Teachings before Ascension-Day. in The Gospel as Revealed to Me. Vol. 5. Translated from Italian by Nicandro Picozzi, M.A., D.D.  Revised by Patrick McLaughlin, M.A. This 2nd English Edition has now replaced the First English Edition, The Poem of the Man-God. WEB.