My writing muse is back in a big way. I'm working on some original stuff that's been sitting around for a couple of years now...how exactly that'll go remains to be seen, but I'm just relieved inspiration's been striking again. ^^
Coupling is back on tv! And that means Jack Davenport goodness. However, I do miss Jeff. His replacement Oliver just isn't cutting it for me. :-\
In the last week or so, our old PC was replaced by a new one dad brought from work, plus my own work one. Dad's trying to see if we can get broadband, but right now? The internet is awful. It'll work one moment and then conk out the next. Plus.....we are getting so many viruses it's not funny. Our anti-virus software is catching all these worms/Trojan horse things, but...damn. Plus, there's these annoying pop-ups that come from something called 'Messenger Service'. Now, I know this program, because I deleted it from our old computer, but I can't remember for the life of me where it was and file searches are turning up nothing. *tears hair out* I suppose I'll have to live with it for the moment. >_<
I knew it was a stupid thing to do, but I did it anyway:
And all guns blazing I go!
But first, a disclaimer: People may well say that I overreact when it comes to historical accuracy, but quite frankly, this is history, people! And I love Graeco Roman history, more than any other field of academia. When people get it wrong, I will understandably get annoyed, and this was no exception. I'm sure you'd all be as unreasonable as I was if something you really loved was done the wrong way. And yes, there is that old "It's just entertainment" argument that some will give when a historical film is inaccurate and people pick it apart. Well, I can safely say that this was not entertainment...c'mon! It flopped at the US box office....clearly people didn't enjoy it anyway, so I'm going to attack it as much as I please.
Now, I know I was asking for it when perverse curiosity caused me to fork out $10.50 to go and see Alexander, which has already been savaged by critics and filmgoers alike. I'm a red-blooded ancient history scholar as you all know, and it's interesting to see how modern storytellers portray ancient history, literature and figures like Alexander.
As far as adaptations go, my favourite historical drama has always been 'I, Claudius', a British miniseries centering on the Julio-Claudian dynasty in ancient Rome. The worst I've seen is Caligula, a 1979 movie on the famous nutty Julio-Claudian starring Malcolm MacDowell. I saw it last year, and suffice to say.....it's pornography. Probably not entirely inaccurate, as debauchery and orgys were commonplace during Caligula's short reign, but pretty nasty to watch anyway, with terrible acting.
Which brings me to Alexander. In short, I feel sorry for everyone that was involved in this overblown Greek tragedy.
Older Ptolemy, despite having little screentime was a plodding sort of role. Badly written. Anthony Hopkins, I expect better of you. I assume, or rather hope you only did this for the money.
Colin Farrell, as the legendary Macedonian general and king of the title...I would say, he faltered. He struggled to achieve the sort of presence that Alexander must've had in life, and he ultimately failed. The role was too big for him and required someone that had the charisma necessary for that sort of character. Plus.....the dye job on his hair was atrocious. His blonde mullet was ugliest hairdo I've seen for a while.
What really bugged me though, is that it appears Oliver Stone couldn't decide what he wanted to do with the puzzle of Alexander's sexuality, so he just threw everything in. Oedipal desires with his mother (I'll get to Angelina Jolie as Olympias later); hot monkey sex with Roxanne, his wife (Rosario Dawson being given mercifully few lines. She just has to bare her breasts and looked pissed off most of the time); exchanging sultry looks with/stripping in front of/kissing his attractive male Persian servant/exotic dancer. And then there's Haephestion (Jared Leto overdoing it on the mascara and with the second-worst hairdo in the film), widely believed by scholars to be Alexander's male lover. Again, Stone doesn't know what to do with him. Is it lifelong friend love? Is it sexual love? I just don't know, so I think I'll have these two hug a couple of times, Haephestion can give Alexander some sort of friendship ring and we'll leave the whole thing hanging. Stone himself has said he wishes he'd tackled this aspect better, and he is right, because there was no clear resolution of it.
What else...ah, yes. Sex and violence, a vital part of ancient society. I understand that ancient battles were gory, and that there was much decapitation of heads and limbs, but the way that the violence was filmed was just wrong. The blood spurting looked incredibly fake as well. And the big love scene between Alexander and Roxanne? It's meant to be passionate and fiery, but really it's just ridiculous and overblown (it sort of goes from looking like attempted rape to full on porno-style lovemaking. o_O). Rather unsexy, all in all.
Visually, there were some things I really enjoyed. The scenes when Alexander explores his new palace in Babylon are just amazing. I especially loved that Stone put in the Zoroastrian iconography of Ahura Mazda. Also.....a scene where a high priest engages in the divination of animal innards, also known as exstipicy(sp?) was fascinating to watch, if a little gory.
The supporting players in this film did what they could with what they were given, which wasn't exactly great stuff. Some of the lines were just cringe-worthy. Val Kilmer I kind of liked as Phillip, but it was like he knew that he was working with really crappy material.
Angelina Jolie looks like the one person in this film that's enjoying herself. She knows it should be treated as a bit of fun, and she plays the manipulative antagonistic Olympias to campy perfection. There's one great moment where you see her as Medusa, though it is still somewhat corny and just doesn't quite work.
....Pshew! I'm really glad I got that out. Fortune may favour the bold, but not the foolish, Oliver Stone. Baz Luhrmann was wise enough to cancel his own Alexander movie, perhaps you should've too.
Next adaptation up for release is a dramatisation of the ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, as far as I know. Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif are reuniting for the first time since Lawrence of Arabia to co-star in it together, so I'm a little more optimistic about this one. Here's to hoping another classics favourite isn't butchered!