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Old 11-23-2004, 07:15 PM
mikech mikech is offline
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Default Alexander the...

...fill in the blank. OK, I didn't know he was gay (or bisexual, whatever). This is pretty cool though: the hero of a huge blockbuster action epic that millions of Americans will soon go watch, a colossal figure in history who, as the movie's marketing blitz keeps telling us, conquered much of the known world by the time he was 30, was gay! This should turn some people's worldviews upside-down...

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/20/mo...&position=

As the culture wars rage anew between social conservatives and their liberal counterparts, Hollywood is preparing to break fresh ground by releasing a high-budget epic film in which the lead character - a classic, and classical, action hero - is passionately in love with a man.

In Oliver Stone's three-hour drama, "Alexander," Colin Farrell, as the fourth-century Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great, has a number of tender love scenes with his best friend, Hephaistion, played by a long-haired Jared Leto. In the film, which cost about $155 million to produce, Alexander is also married to Roxane, played by Rosario Dawson, but the marriage takes a back seat to his passion for his boyhood friend.

In decades past, Hollywood hinted at classical homosexuality in major films like 1960's "Spartacus." And it has dealt with the contemporary subject comically in films like "The Birdcage," the 1996 adaptation of the French film "La Cage aux Folles." But the film industry has never risked quite so much on a blockbuster film that depicts a leading man as gay or bisexual.

In breaking with that historical reticence, "Alexander," set for release by Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Brothers studio next Wednesday, may redefine what is acceptable to mass audiences when it comes to heroic portrayals on the silver screen.

Warner, which financed "Alexander" with the German company Intermedia, has taken pains to de-emphasize the film's gay aspect in its advertising campaign - the trailer declares Alexander's "passion" while showing a love scene between Mr. Farrell and Ms. Dawson.

Mr. Stone, who had final say over the film, scaled back some of the gay love scenes after Warner objected to them and to some of the movie's violence. But the director, who critics say took liberties with historical fact in films like "J.F.K." and "Nixon," said that his choice with "Alexander" was to hew to the record.

"I don't want to corrupt history," Mr. Stone said in an interview. "I don't want to say, 'How do I make this work for a modern audience?' Alexander to me is a perfect blend of male-female, masculine-feminine, yin-yang. He could communicate with both sides of his nature. When you get to modern-day focus groups, to who'll get offended in Hawaii or Maine, you can't get out of it."

Still, Mr. Stone said he was concerned that there might be a backlash. "I'd be na´ve not to be concerned, in America, anyway," he said. "I didn't know there would be a parallel situation going on."

The parallel situation Mr. Stone refers to is that in the wake of the presidential election and the passage of prohibitions on gay marriage in a number of states, homosexuality has resurfaced as a focus of debate and controversy among cultural critics.

Some are already taking aim at Mr. Stone's movie. "There will be people who see Alexander the Great's bisexuality as applauding that lifestyle, and unfortunately it will lead some young boys, young men down a path that I think they'll regret someday," said Bob Waliszewski, a film critic with Focus on the Family, a Christian group. ["man, that alexander dude was awesome, huh jimmy? let's try some butt-sex and we can be just like him!"]

In Greece, Reuters reported that a group of Greek lawyers threatened to sue the studio and Mr. Stone for saying that Alexander was bisexual. Warner and Intermedia said they had not been contacted by the group.

Historians of antiquity say the picture's depiction of Alexander is more or less accurate, noting that the conqueror was inconsolable when Hephaistion died, though he also had various wives and mistresses. They also note that Alexander's bisexuality was common for his time.

"In the broadest sense Hephaistion is the love of his life, and not just based on sex," said Robin Lane Fox, an Oxford historian who was a consultant on the film. "They'd been together since boyhood, 25 years. That's what Oliver, with the Hephaistion scenes, was trying to present."

But historians of cinema said the depiction of a gay or bisexual leading man in a major Hollywood film had little precedent. When Warner earlier this year released another classical epic, "Troy" - based on "The Iliad" - it changed what Greek scholars regard as a love relationship between Achilles and Patroclus into a family tie. In that film, Patroclus is Achilles' cousin, and Achilles, played by a glisteningly buff Brad Pitt, is decidedly heterosexual.

As for "Alexander," Warner Brothers' president, Alan F. Horn, explained: "Oliver Stone is a final-cut director. He was very clear at the point at which I green-lit the movie that Alexander was a bisexual character. He felt very strongly about being historically accurate."

At least some experts say they believe the resulting film will be credited with breaking a taboo that was due to fall. "I think it will be seen as a landmark," said Thomas Waugh, film professor at Concordia University in Montreal and author of "The Fruit Machine: Twenty Years of Writings on Queer Cinema."

Mr. Waugh added: "The films in which Hollywood has broken through have been social-issue melodramas - 'Philadelphia' or 'The Hours.' That's much different than a swords-and-sandal epic, where you're presumably aiming at a so-called general audience, which in Hollywood's mind is basically dominated by teenage boys." "Alexander," which is rated R, will be open to those under 17 only if they are with an adult.

Hollywood's willingness to depict gay culture openly has gone in cycles, generally following society's reigning mores. Often movies have lagged behind television, which in series like "Soap" in the late 1970's and early 80's and "Will & Grace" now has treated the subject directly. Today gay characters are common throughout series television.

As mainstream cinema came much closer to accepting homosexuality in the last decade, it usually chose to do so in comedies like "The Birdcage," which took in $124 million at the domestic box office for MGM in its 1996 release, or "In & Out," which had $64 million in domestic ticket sales a year later.

Mr. Stone's films have often weathered criticism for taking extreme political or social positions, and in "Alexander" he has hardly shied away from controversy. The picture has no homosexual sex scene but shows many close-ups of Alexander and Hephaistion (both wearing eye makeup) confessing their deep affection. Mr. Stone trimmed a scene in which Alexander goes to bed with his Persian servant, a eunuch and historically accurate figure, but their passionate kiss remains.

Even Mr. Lane Fox, the historian, said the director may have overemphasized homosexuality somewhat in his depiction of the Alexander-Hephaistion relationship. But some welcomed the portrayal of Alexander as representing progress toward the acceptance of homosexuality into mainstream culture.

"Big-budget Hollywood films have not even scratched the surface when it comes to portraying our lives, our relationships and our sexuality," said Joan M. Garry, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "In this climate, our visibility is more important than ever. Public opinion does not change overnight. And a major part of moving the needle on that acceptance is making sure that we are a part of Hollywood storytelling."

In conservative circles, some, at least, say they believe it is high time for Hollywood to strive for historical accuracy in its filmmaking, even if that means depicting homosexuality.

"The key question for cultural conservatives, and I'm one of them, is context," said Michael Medved, a film critic and conservative talk show host. "It seems to me if you can ever make the case, and I think you can, that gay sex scenes are appropriate, it would be in this kind of movie. I've read enough about Alexander to know that it is not out of the mainstream to assume Alexander is bisexual."

Nonetheless, Mr. Medved said broad American audiences may not be ready for this kind of screen hero. "There's a certain audience out there that just loves war movies, battle movies - 'Braveheart,' 'Saving Private Ryan,' 'We Were Soldiers,' " he observed. "There are probably a bunch of people who will go to see 'Alexander' looking for a he-man, a superwarrior. When they find out he's playing for the other team, that will probably create a certain indignation in some of the audience."
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  #2  
Old 11-23-2004, 07:26 PM
stabn stabn is offline
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Default Re: Alexander the...

He was bi, not gay, which was pretty common for that time. I don't see how this is much of an issue unless you are very ignorant when it comes to Greek and Roman history.
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  #3  
Old 11-23-2004, 07:32 PM
mikech mikech is offline
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Default Re: Alexander the...

[ QUOTE ]
He was bi, not gay, which was pretty common for that time. I don't see how this is much of an issue unless you are very ignorant when it comes to Greek and Roman history.

[/ QUOTE ]
"in the wake of the presidential election and the passage of prohibitions on gay marriage in a number of states, homosexuality has resurfaced as a focus of debate and controversy among cultural critics."

right, not much of an issue.
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  #4  
Old 11-23-2004, 08:40 PM
stabn stabn is offline
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Default Re: Alexander the...

1) It's a movie
2) It's a fact that a person in the movie was bi
3) Representing that person as bi in a movie shouldn't therefor be an issue, since he was in fact bi.
4) If you hate gays you shouldn't see alexander, since they might show some naughty bi lovin.
5) I hear you see his nuts. So if nuts scare you, you might not want to see alexander.
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Old 11-23-2004, 09:34 PM
mikech mikech is offline
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Default Re: Alexander the...

[ QUOTE ]
1) It's a movie
2) It's a fact that a person in the movie was bi
3) Representing that person as bi in a movie shouldn't therefor be an issue, since he was in fact bi.
4) If you hate gays you shouldn't see alexander, since they might show some naughty bi lovin.
5) I hear you see his nuts. So if nuts scare you, you might not want to see alexander.

[/ QUOTE ]
You completely miss the point, and I'm befuddled how you arrived at the impression that I "hate gays." Try reading the article over.
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  #6  
Old 11-23-2004, 09:40 PM
stabn stabn is offline
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Default Re: Alexander the...

I didn't. I simply ignore those who complain about the bi elements in the film, based on the reasons i listed.
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Old 11-24-2004, 01:43 AM
Blarg Blarg is offline
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Default Re: Alexander the...

[ QUOTE ]
I don't see how this is much of an issue unless you are very ignorant when it comes to Greek and Roman history.

[/ QUOTE ]

I don't think it's a big issue either. But as far as not knowing Greek and Roman history -- a lot of Americans don't even know much of anything about American history, or even where Canada and Mexico are. I think we have to take it for granted that most people's knowledge of Greek and Roman history is somewhere between extremely minimal and none whatsoever...and even moreso, if that were possible, when it comes to Alexander.

I'm sure a lot of people will just go to the movie hoping to see a big war movie, and get surprised. It's kind of a laugh thinking about some uptight people totally freaking out.
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  #8  
Old 11-24-2004, 03:57 AM
Cyrus Cyrus is offline
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Default JFK was gay

and Alexander The Great was murdered by a right wing conspiracy (the right wing of his army wanted more pay).

Relying on Oliver Stone to deliver accuracy and truth is like relying on George W. Bush to deliver Weapons of Mass Destruction: Dubya 'll give ya lots of impressive footage, bits of truth here an' there overwhelmed by wild exaggerations and fill in what he can't find or understand with conspiracy theories.

(This exhausts my political content quota for this forum.)
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  #9  
Old 11-24-2004, 05:03 AM
BusterStacks BusterStacks is offline
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Default Re: Alexander the...

Alexander the man-sausage connoisseur. Oh sorry, thought this was a madlib.
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