Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Alexander the Great

Was watching last night on the television set product advertisements for this new movie. Well officially not advertisements since they were each an hour long but the intent was there to promote this movie. First one was all about Alexander's penultimate battle against the Persians. Second hour was spent behind the scenes of the making of the movie and it was centered on Colin Farrell who has been cast in the role of Alexander.

Whilst watching these programs, I also caught a real commercial for the movie. And I wanted to throw the remote at the television set because of this commercial. Having Colin Farrell utter as Alexander a complete falsehood struck this movie from my go watch list.

What phrase offended me greatly? 'To free the people.' What balderdash, what utter hogwash, what historical revisionist that one phrase is. Then again why should I expect historical veracity when Oliver Stone is involved, after his JFK movie I don't.

With that one phrase, Mr. Stone is blatantly trying to make Alexander into a liberator. Which is contrary to history where Alexander was a great general who conqurered almost all of the known world. As a consequence or a side-effect of Alexander's manifest destiny Greek culture was spread across the known world. Not that Alexander consciously brought Greek enlightenment to the barbarian world. Alexander was merely fulfilling his father Philip's dream and creating for himself a niche in history to fit his own ego. Was it not Alexander who ran thrice around the mound of Illium in homage to the Achaeans before him? Was it not Alexander who undid the Gordian Knot with his sword? At least that is what the stories want us to believe, Alexander in some respects was like any other ruler if there was no good PR then it would be created. In others like his battles against the Persians he was everything he said he was. He was also, if the Geneva Conventions existed back then, a war criminal for using biological weapons against civilian targets, eg: launching via catapult dead/diseased livestock into besieged towns to make the surrender. So Alexander was a multi-facet character; some traits likeable and others very unflattering.

If Alexander was truly a liberator then his empire should have survived his death. But like any empire ruled by one very strong individual, it fell apart upon his untimely demise. There was no infrastructure for a central authority except Alexander. So this great empire was split into three empires as Alexander's top generals divvied up the spoils of Alexander's conquests.

While writing this, a juxtaposition struck me. Well not literally of course. Here we see Mr. Stone trying to make Alexander into something he was not with this movie. While in real time we see a true liberator, following in the footsteps of Bolivar and Franklin Roosevelt, get branded as a conqueror and a war criminal. Thus Mr. Stone exposes for those who are paying attention how him and his fellow comrades in the universal struggle to destroy the ideas and principles of the United States view the world. World conquering criminal general, he gets a pass from Mr. Stone. While a man who is trying to help liberate a people liberate themselves from a despotic criminal is branded a war criminal. George Orwell was right and so was Pogo. "We have met the enemy and he is us." And this is not doubly good either.


Anonymous said...

Heyyyyy Anna . YoooHoo. It is I , Too Old Guy from Jens' page. Good looking site here. I have a comment on the Stone Movie of Alexander the Great.I say Pshaw on Hollywood and all their works. Historical accuracy isn't in their bloodline. I spit on their products from the Deerhunter onward. All propaganda, says I. Now, myself, I was always partial to Lycurgus the Spartan as depicted by Plutarchs lives. This boy established a system of government that lasted for a while. And if you say "Yah but", I will clap my hands over my ears and go "La-la-la-la-la".
Too Old Guy

Anna said...

Oh wow, first comment. YAY!!!!!! Thanks Too Old Guy. Now you make me really want to crack open and read book I have on classical history called 'The Ancient Historians.' Thanks! It moves to top of heap of unread books.

Actually found at Wal-Mart a better depeiction of Alexander the Great on DVD. The 1956 Richard Burton movie. Still does not cover everything. But in under 140 minutes covers everything from his birth, his first battle beside Phillip against the Athenians, all the plotting, and finally his death as he uttered the words on whom shall inherit his empire, 'the strongest.' In other words it does a better job than Oliver Stone does in over three hours.