Alexander the Great
Original title: O Megalexandros
- 3h 30m
A rebel leader calling himself Alexander the Great escapes from prison and captures some English tourists to hold as hostages. He returns to his village and finds there a commune in existenc... Read allA rebel leader calling himself Alexander the Great escapes from prison and captures some English tourists to hold as hostages. He returns to his village and finds there a commune in existence.A rebel leader calling himself Alexander the Great escapes from prison and captures some English tourists to hold as hostages. He returns to his village and finds there a commune in existence.
Another difficult near masterpiece from Angelopolous
The more I see of Theo Angelopolous' work the more convinced I am that he was possibly the greatest director in the history of the movies and yet at almost 3 1/2 hours long "Alexander the Great" is not an easy film to sit through. You know while watching it that he could have made a much shorter film if he had wanted to without sacrificing any of the plot but Angelopolous is a man who likes to hold shots even when nothing much is happening in them; in other words he gives you time, (and lots of it), to take in the action or lack of it. This, like so much of his work, is a film told almost entirely in images rather than words and every shot is composed for the maximum dramatic effect. Working again with cinematographer Ghiorgos Arvanitis there are images here as fine as any in cinema. Even if the film does seem overlong it is always visually stunning. The Alexander of this film isn't the great Greek warrior but a bandit who has kidnapped a party of English aristocrats and holds them to ransom while at the same time taking over the village commune in the mountains where his presence is virtually that of a warlord. As with other Angelopolous political films this, perhaps unfortunately, tends towards the polemical rather than the dramatic. The aristocrats, for example, are used purely as props and even Alexander himself is more of a figurehead rather than a character in his own right. Angelopolous' habit of shooting mostly in long-shot means we never get close enough to any of the characters to really get to know them. Here we have a film in which there are only groups rather than individuals and narratively this is a difficult film to follow. Time and again I lost track of who was doing what to whom. Perhaps this is why, however great the film looks, it is never the historical epic that say, Visconti's "The Leopard" was. Yet this remains a considerable achievement. Films, particularly epics, this rigorous don't come along very often. This is a film that demands a great deal from its audience but stick with it and you will be amply rewarded. Like all of this great director's work it is a film you will take with you and brood over for a very long time. It may not be his greatest film but even Angelopolous working just below his best is still stands head and shoulders above his contemporaries.
- Mar 22, 2014
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