Oliver Stone is an extremely passionate filmmaker. It is this passion that has brought us such movies as Platoon, Born On the Fourth of July, and JFK among others. It is also this passion that saw him bring the tale of Alexander the Great to life in 2004's Alexander. While large in scope and style (how can a movie about the King of Macedonia who conquered most of the modern world not be?), this film (with a running time of 175 minutes) was unfortunately seen as a disappointment for the director. Stone's classic vision and imagery where on screen in abundance, it just seemed like something had happened to the film along the way. Sadly (or not), a movie's merits are often calculated by the numbers that it rings up at the box office. In the United States, Alexander: pulled in only $34 million dollars and was deemed a failure.
However, this is where the beauty of foreign box office and DVD sales is. Worldwide the film made almost $170 million dollars. The fact that it cost about $200 million to make and promote means that somebody was sadly left eating $30 million. Well, enter the home video market and a DVDs ability to be released numerous times in different editions, and suddenly Alexander is no longer the shonda that many may think it is.
I will admit that when I first saw this movie in the theater, I was a bit baffled. I felt that I never really got to know the who Alexander was. Colin Farrell, who played the title role, is a more than adequate actor so that leaves Stone and his editors as the most likely culprits. That was my only real issue with this film. I found the noise that critics were making over Farrell's blonde hair and the homosexual relationship Alexander had with Hephaistion (Jared Leto) to be just that, noise. Walking out of the theater my first thought was that Stone had probably been crippled in way by time constraints on the movie and a fickle film marketplace.
"On DVD Oliver Stone will give us the movie we thought we were going to get." I told myself.
So the first DVD of Alexander came out in 2005 and it was actually shorter than than the theatrical cut by about 8 minutes. The DVD case billed this release as "Newly inspired, faster paced, and more action packed." Complete with two discs, a commentary track by Oliver Stone and loads of behind the scenes featurettes, it seemed odd that Stone would put out this massive work in a shorter form. The goal was obviously to get a larger audience to see the film, but when we're talking 175 minutes vs. 167 minutes, how much of a difference will 8 minutes make over the course of the film? Still this DVD came out and appeared to do well quite well for everyone involved.
Oliver Stone would go on to make World Trade Center. This epic, yet contained look at the tragic events of 9/11 seemed to show that the director had rebounded a bit from Alexander. He was certainly not shying away from controversial material, and on top of that he wasn't pulling back on the scope of his camera lens. This was a big film, about a big event, and Stone seemed to capture it perfectly.
However, Alexander must not have gone away completely because February 27, 2007 will see another release of this massive fable, and this time the cut will clock in somewhere around 220 minutes. Titled Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut, it too will offer fans 2 discs, an introduction by Oliver Stone, and a bevy of bonus features.
Commenting on another release of this film Stone says, "I don't know how many filmmakers have managed to make three versions of the same film, but I have been fortunate to have the opportunity because of the success of video and DVD sales in the world, and I felt if I didn't do it now, with the energy and memory I still have for the subject, it would never quite be the same again. For me, this is the complete Alexander, the clearest interpretation I can offer."
DVD has clearly given filmmakers the ability to redo a film that was otherwise misunderstood or not given the treatment it deserved theatrically. Oliver Stone is an artist. Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut represents another variation on one of the director's works. Stone's ability to very publicly take his film and rework it's various stories, plots and characters says something about how devoted he is to, not only the subject matter of this movie, but the craft of film itself.
Regardless of how Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut performs in the marketplace, Oliver Stone has created a cinematic tale that will have a life of it's own forever. I can see film students debating why the movie didn't work in the theaters. Others will do doubt champion that film just as they will malign the 167 minute version that was already released. One can only wonder what they will say about Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut, but it certainly seems like for this release Oliver Stone is giving it everything he has. Like all great artists he is closing the door to one chapter, and will no doubt find his muse in something else just as large if not larger at some point. However, cineastes and film scholars can now use the three versions of Alexander to examine the directors entire body of work. I am sure they will find things in all the films that were somehow executed in Alexander.
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Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut comes to DVD February 27 from Warner Home Video.
Dont't forget to also check out: Alexander
Alexander was released November 24th, 2004 and stars Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins, Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Rory McCann. The film is directed by Oliver Stone.