Do you remember watching “Alexander” when it first came out in the theater’s in 2004? Eh, me either. I knew I went to see it somewhere around the time I saw “Troy”, but I don’t really recall much at all from my first viewing. “Alexander Revisited – The Final Cut”, released in August 2007, changed my opinion of this great film. The rather unremarkable theatrical version is completely out shown by “The Final Cut.”
As director Oliver Stone wrote in the DVD booklet, he felt unsettled by the theatrical release and chose to revisit the film not once, but twice (a director’s cut was released in 2005) to perfect his telling of Macedon’s greatest leader.
“The Final Cut” requires a bit of a time commitment, with over a 3 1/2 hr. running time, but is well worth it in the end. There is even an intermission after the second hour where you can digest what you have seen, change positions on the sofa, put in disk 2, and prepare yourself for the last hour and a half of Alexander’s life (at least in the film). Intermission comes at a natural point in the story telling, right before Alexander marches his army into India, so there is no awkward break. I also find it sort of nice to watch a modern film emulate the epic films of the 1950’s and 60’s by taking a well deserved pause in the middle.
Normally I do not like films that communicate their story in a disjointed, non-sequential fashion, but Oliver Stone weaves the story in such a way that I did not mind seeing young Alexander in the middle of film, nor Alex’s death in the opening scene. Narrated by Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins), the first time we see Alexander he is leading his army into the Battle of Gaugemela. His cunning and masterful battle strategy award him control over the coveted Persian empire, but also shows his near insane lust for conquering all in the East. These scenes of Alexander at the height of his glory are interwoven with supplemental stories from his youth and young adult life, to spin a complete, complex, and rich tale.
The performances by Colin Farrel, Jared Leto, Angelina Jolie, and Val Kilmer are superb. Cinematography and costumes were beautiful. As fantastic as these were “Alexander” truly shines in the brilliant score composed by native Greek, Vangelis (best known for composing “Chariots of Fire”). I can say with absolute honesty that “Alexander” is my favorite movie score of all time. The only thing I would have done differently than Mr. Stone to perfect this epic would be to have made more use of the score, especially the piece “Titans.” It is just incredible music!
In summation, if you have not seen “Alexander” yet, watch this version. If you saw it in the theater’s and found it average, watch this version. “Alexander Revisited – The Final Cut” is a film worthy of it’s great namesake.