Responses to Oliver Stone’s Alexander: Film, History, and Cultural Studies

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Paul Cartledge, Fiona Rose Greenland
Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2010 M01 20 - 370 pages
The charismatic Alexander the Great of Macedon (356–323 B.C.E.) was one of the most successful military commanders in history, conquering Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia, central Asia, and the lands beyond as far as Pakistan and India. Alexander has been, over the course of two millennia since his death at the age of thirty-two, the central figure in histories, legends, songs, novels, biographies, and, most recently, films. In 2004 director Oliver Stone’s epic film Alexander generated a renewed interest in Alexander the Great and his companions, surroundings, and accomplishments, but the critical response to the film offers a fascinating lesson in the contentious dialogue between historiography and modern entertainment.
This volume brings together an intriguing mix of leading scholars in Macedonian and Greek history, Persian culture, film studies, classical literature, and archaeology—including some who were advisors for the film—and includes an afterword by Oliver Stone discussing the challenges he faced in putting Alexander’s life on the big screen. The contributors scrutinize Stone’s project from its inception and design to its production and reception, considering such questions as: Can a film about Alexander (and similar figures from history) be both entertaining and historically sound? How do the goals of screenwriters and directors differ from those of historians? How do Alexander’s personal relationships—with his mother Olympias, his wife Roxane, his lover Hephaistion, and others—affect modern perceptions of Alexander? Several of the contributors also explore reasons behind the film’s tepid response at the box office and subsequent controversies.

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The epic story of Alexander the Great is just simply too big to be captured in a three and a half hour film. There is probably no director who can do justice to this story without doing it as a mini series.
I liked Colin Ferrell as Alexander but think he was the only one who fit the assigned role. He looked the part and did a passable job of acting the role of Alexander. Every other role should have been cast with a different actor.
After having read Mary Renault's books on Alexander, Fire From Heaven, The Persian Boy and Funeral Games, I would like to see some future story done in mini series that could capture the
the sweep of her novels.


Introduction Paul Cartledge and Fiona Rose Greenland
Part 1 Stones Alexander
Part 2 Precursors of Alexander
Sexuality and Gender
Macedonians and Foreigners
Part 5 Ways of Viewing Alexander
Afterword Oliver Stone

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About the author (2010)

Paul Cartledge is the A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek culture in the Faculty of Classics, Cambridge University, and the Hellenic Parliament Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. He is author, coauthor, editor, or coeditor of more than twenty books, including Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past. Fiona Rose Greenland earned a doctorate in classical archaeology as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where she subsequently served as lecturer. She was hired by Oliver Stone in 2003 to provide expertise on Greek art and architecture for Alexander. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in sociology at the University of Michigan.

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