happy Monday!

November 13, 2017

Ah, another day of working to keep it all together!

So I’m doing a lot of knitting for the holidays right now, and I’m finding I’d rather watch movies than TV shows while I knit, because it turns out a lot of the shows I’m watching I actually want to watch, rather than have them run in the background. So I want to watch movies, but not necessarily complex serious movies, but I also want to see ones I haven’t seen before, but also not anything too stupid and mindless…

Which is how I ended up watching Oliver Stone’s Alexander, starring Colin Farrell.  This thing was panned when it came out — it was a massive production with a huge budget and a cast of thousands. It was clearly done in the spirit of the old Charlton Heston sword-and-sandal epics. In fact, this version (“The Ultimate Cut” on Netflix right now, and does everything really need a different cut than the theatrical one? Really?), had an intermission. You know the intermissions on old movies, when they spend a couple of minutes playing the score with pictures. I can’t remember ever seeing one of these on a movie made after 1980. Did the theatrical cut have this? I don’t know.

But it was weird. The whole thing was weird. Like, on one level it was exactly what I wanted, historical epic with lots of ripped men wearing chitons (mmm, biceps), lots of horses and chariots, some freaking amazing battle scenes and decadent production values. There’s a scene where Alexander is wearing a red cloak and standing before the epic vista of the Hindu Kush mountains, and it’s beautiful, and it’s also how I expect that moment really did look, 2300 years ago.

But then you start to notice that most of the Macedonians are blond and white, and the people they’re conquering are not, and Alexander keeps saying that they’re fighting for freedom, which they’re totally not, and then Anthony Hopkins (playing old Ptolemy) ends with this speech about how great fascism is. I mean, not really but sort of? It went something like, “He proved that one man could rule the world, and the world would be better for it,” and I’m like wait, hold on, part of the point of the movie, and of the story of Alexander the Great, is that he couldn’t rule it. He could conquer it, but he spread his army thin and it all fell apart the minute he died.

This was about five different movies squashed together. The story of the conquering army was actually pretty great. So was the one about how myth influenced reality and vice versa. All of the weird emotional blackmail stuff with his mother went on way too long and wasn’t interesting and didn’t really fit. And then there’s the “yay fascism!” thread which I think was actually accidental but there ya go. Maybe that sort of thing stands out more these days than it did a dozen years ago when the movie came out.

 

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