Alexander the Great

The colossus who conquered the world!

Adventure History Drama
136 min     5.939     1956     Spain


An engrossing spectacle set in the 4th-century BC, in which Alexander of Greece leads his troops forth, conquering all of the known world, in the belief that the Greek way of thinking will bring enlightenment to people. The son of the barbaric and ruthless King Philip of Macedonia, Alexander achieved glory in his short but remarkable life.


Wuchak wrote:
_**Alexander’s conquests from Greece through the Persian Empire**_ After being tutored by Aristotle (Barry Jones), Alexander (Richard Burton) takes over the Macedonian throne in 336 BC at the age of 20 after his father is assassinated (Fredric March). Over the next 13 years he, amazingly, conquers the Persian Empire and heads into India before finally turning back. Claire Bloom plays Alexander’s mother while Peter Cushing appears as General Memnon, who defects to Persia. Teresa del Río is on hand as Alexander’s wife acquired in Bactria. “Alexander the Great” (1956) debuted 48 years before Oliver Stone’s 2004 rendition. It’s better than what I expected for such an old, obscure film, but not great like, say, “Ben-Hur” (1959) mainly because the brooding story is more tedious than compelling. There’s a lot of Shakespearean posing and talking, which will turn off some viewers. However, I like the doomy, heavy air, which is augmented by the score (that no doubt inspired doom metal bands fifteen years later), as well as Burton’s forceful presence (people claim that he was too old for the part, but not really since he was 30 during shooting and the real Alexander died one month shy of 33). I expected the ambiance to be lusher, yet the colors are surprisingly muted. This one spends so much time in Greece/Macedonia to the point that the conquest of the Persian Empire seems like an afterthought and India is barely mentioned (if at all). Nevertheless, there’s enough to appreciate here for those interested in the topic. Speaking of which, I suggest reading up on Alexander a little bit before viewing so you can grasp the main characters and the basics of what’s going on. I also suggest watching the 2004 version and comparing the two. The film runs 2 hours, 16 minutes, and was shot entirely in Spain. GRADE: B-
CinemaSerf wrote:
This is essentially a story all of it's own. Though history forms the basis of the subject, Richard Burton's depiction strays quite wilfully from any of the more established legends that are Alexander of Macedonia - or it just chooses to create a completely new one. Frederic March is good as his borderline megalomanic father Philip. with whom Alexander has a love/hate relationship as is Danielle Darrieux - his glamorous, and equally enigmatic mother Olympias who is constantly filling her son's head with tales of his divine origins. The tale leads us on a colourful adventure through his life without much subtlety, artistry or style - indeed Burton is pretty wooden throughout. To be fair, he has little by way of good dialogue to work with and although the assembled cast is impressive, they rarely work together well enough to create anything like a sense of peril, achievement or anything much, really - with Stanley Baker and Clare Bloom as the Persian Princess Barsine proving to be casting at it's most curious. As you'd expect, the budget wasn't meagre and the craft elements are stunningly produced; costumes, scenery and the battle scenes are all staged well with plenty of action. It's far too long however, and the chances to develop the more historically interesting facets of their characterisations are pretty much all missed. Just goes to show that money isn't everything...