Sunday, August 06, 2006

Always The Sun

Finally saw Oliver Stone's Alexander. Not as bad as I'd anticipated (though I've only seen the Director's Cut version on DVD) but still a failure, I think, of cinema mostly because Colin Farrell was a terrible casting choice.

But then, curiously, as the movie wore on, I began to appreciate his attempt. His acting was a failure not because of an idicosyncratic approach, but because he just didnt have the chops. On the other hand, I admit I can't think of anyone who could have pulled it off to my liking.

In some ways it's a brave film -- heavy on the bisexuality, which means it's true to its subject. Bagoas was a nice touch; a nod to Mary Renault, for which Stone should be praised.

As for the story, I'm sorta peeved that one of my favorite Alexander anecdotes was ignored. I should stress that the following is from memory:

When Alexander was still a prince, he and his friends from school encountered in town a strange, unkempt man lying in a tub out in the street, sunning himself. Alexander's group walked up to him and addressed him. The man simply replied in asking them to stop blocking the sunlight he was enjoying. This, of course, was unspeakably rude, and considering to whom the insult was addressed, dangerously so. Alexander's friends took offence for the prince. But Alexander himself was amused -- more to the point, he was touched. The rude man was a philosopher, Diogenes the Cynic. Alexander moved so that his shadow no longer blocked the sun, and did something kind (whether it was an apology or a gift of coin, I don't remember). As the Prince and his party left, he told his astonished friends: "Were I not Alexander, I should like to be Diogenes."

***

That story reminds me of another anecdote concerning Cynics. A Roman Emperor (I think it was Diocletian) profiled in Suetonius's gossipy book had a certain drollery about him. When his litter would pass by men he knew to be Cynics, he'd push back the curtains, stick his head out, and bark at them loudly. ("Cynic" is Greek for "dog".)

***

More about Alexander here.

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