Alexander the Great

Screening on Film
Directed by Robert Rossen.
With Richard Burton, Fredric March, Claire Bloom.
US/Spain, 1956, 35mm, color, 141 min.
Print source: HFA

A commanding, epic dispatch from a half-exiled Rossen to Hollywood, the film presents a fascinating overlay of his humanely rendered obsessions with purpose and power onto a lavish Cinemascope production. With Shakespearean bearing, Richard Burton abundantly fills the title roll as the prophesized god of men who wins hearts and conquers nations while fighting conspiracies boiling between his mystical mother and “barbarian” father Philip of Macedonia. Like Willie Stark or Charley Davis, the iconic legend falls prey to ill-defined desires, impulsive instinct and internal anguish. Aspiring to rise above the crude rule of his forebears and create a new, unified civilization, he is vaingloriously, unconscionably caught up in his own spectacular waves of victory. Alexander’s totalitarian idealism mirrors that of Rossen who was again in control of writing, direction and production, yet fighting studio battles all along the way as he attempted to regain his stature upon Hollywood’s world stage.

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