December 26, 2004

One last preen from Oliver Stone.

For some reason, the NYT gives a big, long interview to Oliver Stone, about his movie flop "Alexander," in its "Year in Culture" section.
Q. With movies like this, I think it's very hard to figure out what to do with the element of camp --

A. But it's an epic, you have to go with the concept of heightened dialogue, soaring music, soaring score, soaring theme - man, God, earth. I mean it's classic biblical, too. You know, it came down by Cecil B. DeMille. I wanted to get the language simple and strong like Greek dramas, so it was more like Euripides and also Aeschylus.

Why didn't they write a play about Alexander? Could have easily been a trilogy. Why didn't anybody do that? I mean why didn't Shakespeare touch the guy, or Marlowe or Goethe? He was famous. Nobody touched him. Why? Because there's too much success. He's too much - too much for people.
In spite of the incoherence, that snippet provides some insight into the mind of Stone. He thinks that the grand movie directors -- DeMille and him -- are capable of presenting the grandest stories that are beyond the reach of those stagebound mortals like Shakespeare and Euripides. And if moviegoers didn't get it, it's their damn fault:
With "Alexander" I was ... coming in with a lot of complexity, but at the wrong angle to the American people. They don't see the political parallels between empire-building, between Alexander and George Bush. They see on the surface. They say: "Oh, Alexander's gay. And George Bush isn't." I mean, Bush would have no inclination to see a movie where the guy is gay. If you say that in a headline, you're killing it. Unless you have a certain interest in Alexander. But if you don't know anything about Alexander, "Oh, it's another freaky Colin Farrell picture where he plays a gay guy."
Yes, yes, your movie flopped because Americans are homophobic, ignorant of history, and can't handle complexity. If only we had perceived that "empire" angle, we would have loved your inane pile of crap. How big was that pile of crap? Per Stone:
I feel good, I feel like I've got something out of my system. I feel that I achieved a mountain for myself. A mountain.
UPDATE: As an emailer points out, Euripides and Aeschylus have an airtight excuse for not writing about Alexander. Check the chronology. Stone's history lessons are, as we know, laughable.

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