Sunday, 7 December 2008

Movies Seen: Alexander Revisited & Mongol

Saw two epics recently. Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut is Oliver Stone's preferred version of the Alexander movie, as compared to his previous two versions - the normal 2 and a half hour theatre/DVD one and the director's cut (8 mins less than the first). This new version is 3 and a half hours long, with footage not shown in theaters or either of the previous two DVDs. This is in fact how Oliver Stone wanted Alexander to be viewed. One wonders why he didn't just release this version in the first place? Maybe he felt American & international audiences aren't used to 3 and a half hour long movies? I know Indian audiences certainly are.

This version is definitely better than the first two, which just seemed like a series of unrelated shots strung together, lending a feeling of incompleteness to the whole movie. This version seems fuller and more complete. True, certain flaws still remain. The question of motive, what drives Alexander on and on, hasn't been answered, and the movie does taper off towards the end. But it is the best of all three versions so far, and a definite improvement.

Mongol details the early life of Genghis Khan, from his childhood to the time he becomes the leader of all Mongols, and sets off to expand his territories.

Directed by Sergei Bodrov and released in 2007, the action scenes are extremely well choreographed.

Without taking anything away from these two movies (which are both extremely good), both are about men who lusted for power and land. They wanted to control and to own, and waged war in order to do so. What motives do men use nowadays to justify war and killing?

Movies like these make men who killed others look like heroes; we tend to get caught up in the romanticism of the hero's vision, and focus less on their flaws. But characterisation aside, I wonder if we can look objectively at Alexander or Genghis Khan and judge for ourselves what kind of people they were. We know that some of their actions were barbaric, and their motives were probably noble. Of course, we can't judge them accurately without some kind of historical context.

Moving on to today's world, one wonders what separates those conquerors from the men of today who also use violent means to get their (supposedly noble) points across?


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