Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Alexander also known as “Alejandro Magno,” “Alexandre,” “Alexandre, o Grande,” “Alexander: Alejandro Magno,” “Alexandros”

MPAA Rating: R for violence and some sexuality/nudity

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
STAFF WRITER

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action Adventure Biography
Length:
2 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
November 24, 2004
Copyright, Warner Bros.
Copyright, Warner Bros.
Copyright, Warner Bros.
Copyright, Warner Bros.
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros.
Featuring: Colin Farrell, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer
Director: Oliver Stone
Producer: Thomas Schuhly, Oliver Stone, Jon Kilik, Iain Smith
Distributor: Warner Bros.

“Fortune favors the bold”

Oliver Stone’s “Alexander” isn’t great. Apart from a few captivating moments, the greatest thing about it is its running time. Some scenes resonate with the current war in Iraq, but the strongest emphasis is the diversity of love relationships that Alexander has with others. Most of all, I didn’t feel engaged in the movie, and found it very difficult to sympathize with any of the characters.

Beginning and ending with Alexander’s death, this story has another set of bookends with the character Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins), who also provides narration throughout the story. Starting as a young boy, we see Alexander (Connor Paolo) growing up and being taught by his teachers as well as his mother, Olympias (Angelina Jolie). After Alexander (Colin Farrell) grows up, his “father” Philip (Val Kilmer) dies, and Alexander takes over the kingdom. He leads the people to conquer other kingdoms, until he is finally stopped in India. The story includes many historical facts and details, while also emphasizing some specific interpersonal relationships of Alexander’s.

One poignant relationship is with his male friend, Hephaestion (Jared Leto). The night before battle, Alexander is looking nervous when his friend Hephaestion asks him, “Is there no love in your life?” Alexander begins opening up to him and speaks very intimately—confessing that it is only him that he loves. There is nothing physical that we see happen between them. It is also a relationship that causes Alexander’s wife, Roxanne (Rosario Dawson) to be jealous, and ask, “Do you love him?” to which Alexander replies, “There are many different ways to love.”

The R-rating is due to battle related violence, sex and nudity. I did not notice any foul language. After Alexander is confronted by his wife, he begins to force himself on her and strips her clothes off. (This scene is reminiscent of a prior scene where Philip forces himself on Olympias until he is stopped.) During their scuffle, Alexander is impressed by how Roxanne is fighting back and compliments her for her lack of fear. He is impressed by her and says that he will die for this kind of love. Consequently, he tells her that his life is hers and declares that she will have his son. A somewhat explicit sex scene follows.

The idea of homosexuality is referenced or implied several times throughout this story. Besides hints in his relationship with Hephaestion, it is also implied that Alexander is sleeping with his man-servant, who is disappointed when Alexander tells him he will be bathing alone one night. Later, we see Alexander subtly inviting him to bed. On another night, at a party, the people watch a show of male dancers, coupled together with hints of homoeroticism. When coaxed by the crowd after the performance, Alexander gives in and kisses one of the male dancers—followed by a cringe from his wife.

Another possible element of the director’s visions for this film is the relevance to the current war in Iraq. There are moments that can be inferred to relate to President Bush leading our country into war. After having conquered so much, Alexander wants to continue and conquer more, but the people are not with him. They say, “We’ve seen too many people die,” and exclaim how they want to see their families again. Alexander tries to keep it positive and promises them pensions, and boasts of how he took them farther than his father did. However, the film seemed neutral on the subject, not trying to take sides on this issue, and any reference to current events is subjective.

Having been entertained by previous Olive Stone films, it was surprisingly difficult to find much entertaining here. The greatest sequence is the battle in India—involving very stylized elements. This reviewer wishes that Stone would have incorporated more of this approach to the entire film, rather than only at the end. The straightforward narrative aspects made it a bit dry. The fact that it was extremely difficult to sympathize with the characters made it all the more disengaging. It might have been much more enjoyable if Stone has used the strength he has with poetic images and done the entire film in that way.

Viewer Comments
Negative
Negative—Please… please… PLEASE don’t waste your time to see this movie. I try to keep an open mind about movies, knowing that many of them are not made with Christian virtues in mind, but watching this movie with an open mind still made me cringe and regret seeing it. I was so excited to see this historical movie, being that we just finished Daniel in church and wanting a little more information about Alexander, but this movie provided me with nothing of the context I wanted. I would suggest to anyone who wants to see this movie for its historical value to buy a book instead (which will probably be the same amount of money as your movie ticket anyways!) And anyone who wants to see this movie for entertainment value… listen to the Spirit telling you to flee ALL immorality and walk as far away from the fence as possible. The grass is NOT greener on the side of the fence that Alexander is playing on. I pray that those who read this will take a sister’s advice and watch a more positively moral and better quality movie than this.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/2]
—Erika, age 22
Negative—Alexander is 1. filled with pompous, long-winded and ridiculous dialogue, 2. boring and unenjoyable, 3. relentless in its homoeroticism and guys with eye makeup and hair like a male strippers in Los Angeles, 4. gratuitously violent and sexual, 5. impossible to follow, like why did Alexander need to wear a white chiffon dress and where did his friend get a brand new bathrobe from out there in the Indian desert, 6. apparently under the direction of Edward D. Wood, Jr., as in, what was up with the pink trees and the elephants with umbrellas from like the British Raj but it was 300 BC or whatever, and 6. a waste of time and money. It was bad-funny a few times, but not enough to get it to Mystery Science Theater 3000. Avoid this film.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1½]
—Richard Schmitz, age 48
Negative—I finally walked out. I was very repulsed with the homosexual undertheme. I understand that the past had other views on such practices, but I don’t care to view them. The battle scenes tried hard, but were lost in the wide angle shot too far away. Instead of greatness it gave us bickering, rough nude foreplay, and poor dialogue. Ptolemy was the only redeeming performance.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2]
—Michael Frisbie, age 59
Negative—I waited a long time to see Alexander. Alexander failed to live up to the exciting previews and anticipation it generated several months ago. Oliver Stone seems to have two messages on his mind, bisexuality and homosexuality. The historical evidence does not lend any thought to Alexander being bisexual anymore than George W. Bush could have once played goalie for the Indianapolis Ice. I suppose it is possible that Bush could have been a goalie once, but certainly far from probable. Where did Stone come up with such a goofy idea?

Stone presents Alexander’s character as overtly feminine and greatly attracted to all the feminine looking male supporting cast around him. For such a blatant homosexual message, Stone presents the stereotype of homosexuality, a domineering mother who controls and caresses, in her bed, a young Alexander to the point of nausea, not counting her fixation with snakes, and a distant father who does not show any love. Throughout the movie Alexander is in search of his father’s approval and a father figure, finding relief in his male lovers.

There are seveal full mouth kisses from Alexander with other men. There were some good battle scenes and Alexander shows some good leadership qualities and principles. Any good quality this movie has was overshadowed by the continued return to Alexander’s feminine side and one useless sex scene, actually with a woman, that went way to long to prove any point other than simple sensationalism. My neck hurt from looking away and talking to another patron during this scene. The movie was a great waste of time and left one thinking, what a missed opportunity for a good movie. Committed Christians should avoid this movie at all costs.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Rick Davis, age 53
Negative—Don’t waste your money on this film. It is full of sexual perversion, mysticism, and violence. It is overly long and the battle scenes were so rapidly flashed and stylized that I could not follow them and became bored with them. This seems to be more an attempt to promote perversion than to present a factual account of Alexander and his conquests. I can in no way recommend this film.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1½]
—Neal Krenzke, age 56
Negative—I went to see this movie because I thought it was going to be a grand epic film about the conquests of Alexander the great. I thought, its a major big-budget film with great material from Oliver Stone, one of the most well-respected directors in Hollywood, how can they mess up? I’ll tell you how, by turning Alexander the Great into Alexander the sexually confused, weepy, paranoid, momma’s boy. The Alexander depicted in this film was crying almost the whole time throughout the movie, how on earth did he get the monicker “Great”? There was absolutely no plot whatsoever. Why did Alexander want to conquer the world? To free the “barbarians” of the world by bringing them Greek culture? I don’t think so. More like running away from his creepy, obsessive mother. This movie was also incredibly boring. There are only two battles in this three hour flick and the battles are so confusing that they have to explain who won in the end! Too bad there’s no Lord of the Rings movie this year. Please, save you’re money. Go see Spongebob or National Treasure, or any other film out there.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—April, age 18
Negative—To anyone considering this movie, please consider this review. This movie was an extreme let down. I love period pieces, but I was ready for a full refund within the first fifteen minutes. I TRULY regret waisting my time and hard earned money to see unrighteousness and blatant wickedness glorified and even “justified” on the big screen. There were several overt and unashamed references encouraging homosexuality. Even homosexual intercourse!! In one scene King Philip is quickly seen raping another man at one of his feasts! In another an absolutely nude Alexander motions for a male servant to come and join him in his bed for the night,(implying that sexual activities will be taking place.) This movie is outrageous! I TRULY, TRULY, TRULY regret supporting this wickedness with my God-given money. Even if the homosexuality were not so blatant, the plot and story-line were completely unintriguing. I did not have any sympathy for any of the characters in this film. I was so offended that I inevitably became completely disengaged with this utter waste of a film.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Kimberly, age 23
Negative—Yikes! My friends and I went to see it with the idea that it would be a good war movie. Were we ever wrong and disappointed! This film is Homosexual Propaganda “in your face.” No Christ-follower can call this movie morally acceptable as it clearly propagates and revels in the support of Homosexuality. It’s the icing on the cake after all the “gay marriage” support this year. Don’t go see it. Don’t allow your children to see it. 40 minutes into the film, my friends and I walked out of the movie theater just as the film was portraying Alexander about to make out and sleep with his boy friend. Don’t know if they showed it on screen, but we were not willing to find out! At one of his parties, it has a scene implying of male rape of a servant. One of the teachings that Alexander learns from his teacher as a boy was something to the effect of “Love between a man and a man is what builds city-states.” Need I say more?

Don’t see the nasty film. I can’t believe it made it to the big screen… but then again, as we become more and more like Sodom and Gomorrah in America, I guess I CAN believe it.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—N. Brown, age 23
Negative—I saw this film with hopeful expectations, as a Veteran. It focuses on violence scenes, on relationships (homo—family dysfunctional-bad marriage) the only redeeming factor was background locations were probably accurate. I had hoped to see what it was about; the man that gave him a nature that could intimidate so many to follow him-the movie showed none of this aspect at all. As a veteran—I wouldn’t have followed such a indecisive man anywhere. He lives to the age of 33—same as our Lord—but that is the only comparison to see. The only strong parts are; that it is violent—graphic in fighting scenes—dysfuctional people in colorful costumes in colorful locations with not much of real value to say—Angelina Jolie does good in playing a woman of trickery and underhandness—like current soap operas. If you are an animal lover—seeing animals die and cut up, will not sit well with you even though they are simulated. The horse was one of the better actors. Scenes of traitorous men left in mangled positions are not needed. I advise NOT letting anyone see this. No gain.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Mr. Gerry Hulsey, age 53
Negative—Don’t waste your time or money. The homosexual scenes were offensive and too much of the movie was focused on that. It was also too long and boring. I fell asleep through part of it because it did not hold my interest and left before it was over.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/___]
—Donna, age 39
Negative—Unfortunately, my husband and I opted for this movie instead of National Treasure. It was a snore for 3 long offensive hours. The homosexual overtones were everywhere. At first I tried to think objectively, but it soon became very pervasive and left us squirming in our seats with revulsion. I was horrified at the male rape scene, however brief. This movie was filthy from start to finish. We were disgusted at the nudity. The sight of Collin Ferrell’s genitalia was highly offensive. I am saddened that I payed good money on such affrontery as Stone portrayed in this movie. I couldn’t wait to leave.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—R. Crowe, age 29
Negative—Read the other comments here… in a nutshell, I was hoping for something that was at least ok, but it was leagues below other great epic films that we have come to love in the last decade or so. Sure, the scenery and costuming and final battle scene are decently done for a big budget movie, but that’s only the bare minimum we expect, and it doesn’t make up for the rest of the 3 hours of boring monologues, expressions of love and kisses between gay lovers, and the half a dozen or more flashes of a nude woman that were in no way beneficial to me. I really wish I hadn’t gone to see it!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/2]
—Stephen, age 24
Negative—I was pretty excited on seeing this movie, but after viewing it I was so disappointed. This film is very offensive indeed! I didn’t enjoy watching it. I just wasted my money! It didn’t have any good points, I mean at any scene.

I didn’t know Alexander was a homo, but even if he was… I think the movie would be better if it wasn’t shown. It was nonsense! I don’t know what’s the reason or purpose of the scriptwriter why it was included in the film. But whatever it is, it’s really annoying.

To those who are still planning on seeing this movie, better turn your interest on something else.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1½]
—Len Deyto (Manila), age 21
Negative—DON’T WATCH THIS MOVIE! I REPEAT DON’T WATCH THIS MOVIE! Not only was this movie gory, sexually explicit, and much more, it was also horribly made. What could of been a great movie turned out to be a disaster. If you even consider going to this movie, consider the countless negative reviews. Went I went to this movie I was hoping it would be a step better than the OK “Troy.” Instead I got an extremely boring story full of holes. I also got more than my share of violence and sex. Perhaps the worst thing is that I had to see Colin Farell naked and acting gay. In general I am not very sensitive to violence and sexuality, but this movie was over the top. Perhaps the worst part of this movie though was the simply just horrible moviemaking. I know Oliver Stone could have done a lot better than this. Not that you’ve heard what I’ve had to say, if you decide to see this movie anyway, you must just love horrible movies.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/2]
—Brian, age 19
Negative—Amazingly Offensive! I enjoy action movies, especially those of a historical nature. I am still in disbelief…
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Michael, age 41
Negative—The movie was poorly made, to be sure. Still, I wonder why homosexuality is so offensive to many Christians when God spends a lot more time in the Bible condemning murder, liars and lust. We have no problem viewing violence, but God forbid we see two men kiss? I’m not defending homosexuality, but it is no worse a sin than murder. Or cursing, or whatever. I think too many movie-going Christians are picking and choosing sins that they are uncomfortable with and ignoring the ones they find less offensive.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2]
—J.H., age 20
Neutral
Neutral—I saw this film on the day it came out and needless to say, I’m blown away by it. Morally speaking, this is pretty bad, but what does one expect from an R-rated film? There’s only some minor nudity and Alexander has a “friendship” with one of his officers, Hephaistion.

As far as moviemaking goes, the film is fabulous. The scenes, the background, and the costumes are absolutely breathtaking. Colin Ferrell IS Alexander and I can see him getting a Best Actor nomination for the Academy Awards. This film is a lot better than Troy (and probably more historically accurate, too), despite the fact that Brad Pitt and Colin Ferrell are equally attractive. Another complaint is that this film runs for 3 hours but it runs rather quickly.

I do have a problem with Angelina Jolie playing Alexander’s mother. She is far too young (she and Colin Ferrell are about a year apart in age) and an aged actress around 50-60ish should’ve been playing the part. What surprised me is seeing Val Kilmer playing the part of one-eyed Philip of Macedonia (both Val Kilmer and Angelina Jolie playing Alexander’s parents left me scratching my head). Viewers should take note that Alexander IS NOT Greek, but Macedonian.

Another note: the film is incredibly violent and I nearly lost my breakfast after watching the first major battle scene. I loved the movie except for the offensive stuff. Being a history major, I can say it’s fairly accurate. My professor in Greek history also agrees it’s accurate (and that’s saying something… historians are a tough crowd). For those interested in learning about Alexander, there is a historian by the name of Eugene Borza who is a scholar on Alexander. I’m sure his books are available in bookstores or in a local library.

The film takes place about 50-60 years after the last of the Pelopennesian Wars and about 150 years after the Greece vs. Persia conflict. Alexander has conquered most of the ancient world at an age when people would normally be stuck working in a boring cubicle job. He is pretty much the Napoleon Bonaparte of the ancient world with a string of military victories only to be defeated in India (likewise, Napoleon had his share of conquest only to be defeated in Russia and at Waterloo). This film is not appropriate for teen-agers under 18.

When the film comes out on DVD/Video, I strongly urge Christians to order it through a company that filters movies for objectionable content because it is really too good to miss.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/5]
—Shannon H, age 23
Neutral—Basically, in today’s society what do we expect to come from Hollywood. Why be shocked and appalled at a movie, that you know, in its entirety will be overall offensive. Its rated R as a warning, that there may be some offensive scenes involved. If your children are not allowed to see it, then what is the difference in you seeing it? It desensitizes both groups, and in whole, basically leaves both with a feeling of “tolerance.” In all, I do not find the movie to be appalling. Homoeroticism is basically around us every day. In part, the movie describes a “lesser” example of what we see daily. I have no objections to a older child seeing this. I would prefer them see a screen than a live relationship.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Thomas, age 18
Positive
Positive—The film was slow to start and slow to finish. Technically it was great… evidence would say its historically correct. If you’re the brand that wants a Christian-filtered version of history, this may not be the film for you.
My Ratings: [ Better than Average/5]
—Alex Bailey, age 24
Positive—Alexander was a great historical movie. I feel that Oliver Stone did a great job portraying Alexander and his life. Of course, this movie does have objectional content but, it is an R-rated movie so you should not bring your children. The fight scenes were well done and the sexual scenes were like candy to me. If you are looking for a good historical movie this is it.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Matt Jones, age 43
Positive—I liked this movie. While there may be content that some would find objectional, that’s just how it is. You really can’t expect to go to a movie about Alexander the Great and not see some homoeroticism, and you can’t see a movie about ancient Mesopotamia without seeing mysticism, and you DEFINITELY can’t expect to see a movie about war in ancient times without violence, and any movie about ancient times is bound to have some sex.

All I’m saying, people, is think about the subject of the film you’re going to see. Also look at the ratings, don’t bring a child to this movie and then act shocked when they see the sexy bits. I mean, really. God gave you common sense, use it.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—RSC
Positive—Alexander is a great film in that it is completely historically accurate and portrays Alexander as a human rather than an epic hero.

Alexander does NOT have to be interpreted as a homosexual in this film, even though the movie does show that homosexuality was present in Greek society (which is historically accurate). The film clearly portrays that Alexander tries to keep control over his passions…

…The movie never shows Alexander during a homosexual act, and the only time he is shown having sex is on his wedding night. What makes the movie great is the focus on Alexander’s pursuit of his vision to create a lasting empire in the world that unified all peoples. The overall message of the movie is that greatness is achieved through the complete pursuit of a vision and requires control over passions and other desires.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Thomas Burwell, age 19
Comments from young people
Negative—I saw this film on a field trip for my Ancient history and Latin classes. I have to say that although I could see that a clear effort was made to create an epic film… the blatant sexuality of the characters ruined the experience for me. I was not impressed with Alexander’s homosexuality, but seeing as I’d been warned that many Mediterranean peoples had no problems with it, I won’t make a fuss. However, I was really not impressed with the sex scene between alexander and his wife. I definitely would not advise children to see this, for although it’s historically accurate (for a film), the themes are a bit too… mature.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2½]
—Kitak, age 16
Negative—Laughably bad! Historically ludicris! Morally offensive! They turned Alexander the Great into Alexander the gay, and Oliver Stone(d) once again revises history as he sees fit.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Trevor S., age 16
Negative—This film loses its grip on plot about thirty minutes in, keeping in mind it’s a three hour long film. It doesn’t know where it’s going, or what its purpose is. When characters die, you have no emotional attachment to them, and could care less. There’s also no good moral content, with a very extended sex scene with plenty of nudity, three scenes of rape, and one in which you see Colin completely nude. There is a very strong homosexual relationship, which I wasn’t offended by because it’s true, but I’m sure it will offend many. There is plenty of over-acting, Stone’s vision was too much for the cast to handle (Casting Jolie as Alex’s Mother? Ick.)…The movie is rather dull, and by the end, you’re ready to get out and never think of it again.

Pros: There is ONE, but not enough to save this film. The fight scene in the Jungle near the end of the film was done amazingly, and is the best directed scene since “Saving Priavte Ryan”’s D-Day opening. But, by the time it’s done, you hopes fall apart as the film does absolutely nothing to make you enjoy it.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—Dylan, age 13
Negative—I’m a 15 year old who went with his parents to see this movie hoping for a good movie. I got so mad that less then half way through it, I told my parents, and we left the theater. DON’T WASTE YOU’RE TIME!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Nathaniel, age 15
Negative—I had heard some negative comments on the movie before finally viewing “Alexander.” I am a big fan of history-based films though, so I decided to sit down to watch it—after all, it couldn’t be that bad. It was.

The story itself is interesting, and I didn’t mind the slow pace. The dialogue was carefully chosen for the film, the acting was really quite good from Colin Farrell as well as other characters—including the almost unrecognizable Val Kilmer.

It wasn’t the story that brought out the negative side of the film, but the sexual content. The movie had moments of extreme stylized violence, but that is expected in a movie about war. The sex scene between Alexander and Roxanne was graphic, but from I’d heard from the movie, it was the only sex scene. Not so, the man servant Alexander falls in love with—or at least lusts after—is shown in Alexander’s bed. Alexander crawls in with him—showing a brief moment of frontal male nudity—and they begin to kiss and grope. Now I do realize I watched the “Final Cut” version of the film, so footage was different. Obviously I made a mistake.

I am a movie nerd so I usually insist on watching the “Final, Director’s or Uncut” versions of movies—“Alexander” being 3½ hours long. Though the added story was good—the other footage was not. I fast-forwarded through the sex scene, but I still feel ashamed for even glimpsing at it. That is how the film “Alexander” made me feel, ashamed.

The film has good qualities, but they are drowned out by the extreme sexual situations—some of which I have mentioned already, but also including attempted rape, male erotic dancing and other disturbing dialogue.

If you must watch this movie, I guess stick with the theatrical release, you will at least escape the most perverted, evil trash the “Final Cut” adds. I don’t know about the “Director’s Cut,” but I doubt it is much better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Ben Badger, age 17 (USA)
Neutral—“Alexander” would have been a good movie, if it wasn’t for the gay things in it. The battle parts were fine, because you have you see that Alexander the Great takes over a lot of the world… if you want to watch a movie on Alexander The Great. Go get the one with Richard Burton and stay away for this one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Joshua Sites, age 17 (USA)
Movie Critics
…far from great… a beautifully wrapped package, but open it up and there’s nothing there…
—Paul Clinton, CNN
…What Stone has delivered instead is no folie de grandeur, but rather the last thing one would have expected from him: an honorable failure…
—Scott Foundas, LA Weekly
…an ambitious and sincere film that fails to find a focus for its elusive subject…
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…hot-wires history and politics into a wild, memorable, breathtaking ride…
—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
…falls short of epic status… Farrell’s lone heterosexual scene is extremely graphic and further highlights his character’s revulsion for women…
—Annabelle Robertson, Crosswalk