The film was a second-rate epic. One problem is the fight scenes, the fight scenes may look realistic in the time it was released but for modern audiences it may seem to look like it lacks imagination and the effects were too simple. The lack of imagination and creativity is seen all throughout the film.
The director’s work wasn’t actually bad but this kind of film must have been dealt with someone whose form of direction must exhibit more of creativeness and must be imaginative enough to illustrate what kind of life and time the story took place.
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The main character, Alexander undergoes a remarkable character change, but what is missing is the emotional depth that would emphasize that transformation. Robert Rossen’s version of Alexander the Great displays practical professionalism.
The screenplay did not concentrate on Alexander but it is concentrated on the conflict in his family that he went through. The story begins at a time that Greece is divided between Spartans, Athenians, and Macedonians, in 356 B.C. Fredric March played as Philip of Macedonia and he’s role is that he led his troops in a war to defeat Greece when his son Alexander is born.
The birth of baby Alexander caused Philip’s closest mentors to urge Philip to put to death not only Alexander, but also Alexander’s mom Olympias, played by Danielle Darrieux). The exact motive behind everyone’s extreme dislike for Olympias is not totally obvious, but it seems to be about ethnic conflict.
As a result, Philips council sees Alexander merely as an illegitimate child who doesn’t deserve the throne. In the opening half hour a great deal of time was devoted in the movie depicting the relationship between Alexander and Aristotle, his teacher.
Well nobody is sure of how historically accurate this interpretation, but Rossen used the character to creatively smother the wide-ranging idea of his film. The events shown in the film seem to mostly disagree with the written claims of Alexander being an extremely ill-tempered, egotistical, and contemptuous ruler.
There were some lines of dialogue that shows Alexander wants to spread Greek Culture, but then he is so unsympathetic to some Greeks like Memnon. The script did not build up the character of Alexander that much for the audience to understand his motivations. Another confusing part if the film is the love story of Alexander and Barsine, the wife of Memnon.
One can guess that Rossen used the character of Barsine as a vessel to stimulate a third act which seems to be incompatible with the tone of the film. The finale of the film shows Alexander leaving India and back to Greece, but the journey wasn’t of clear purpose.
There was no natural development in character and the majority of the supporting cast is forgettable. Some elements of the film, like Alexander’s affair with the daughter of the Persian king, are only implicit. The make up and costume design imply homoeroticism, but did not explicitly showed Alexander’s bisexuality.
The most provoking element of the film Alexander the Great is not that it’s an awful picture, because it exhibits skilled acting, production design, cinematography, and scoring throughout, despite the fact that nothing is astonishing.
It is nothing of these exhibit extraordinary points and maybe it is because of Robert Rossen himself. He himself was the director, writer, and producer of the film, and he is expected to be passionate of his craft.
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