Why Alexander won’t meet Oscar
BY Mike Goodridge
January 24 2005 12:00 AM ET
It’s not just in the United States that critics have mauled Oliver Stone’s Alexander. As the movie opens in countries across the globe, what was once the most anticipated film of 2004 has turned into 2005’s hapless whipping boy. And however much Stone tries to downplay them, the bisexual elements in the film have dominated every discussion. There’s too much gay content for mainstream audiences, claim some. There’s too little to make the character’s love life understandable, claim others.In Alexander’s home country of Greece, Stone’s explicit portrayal of Alexander’s bisexuality caused a national scandal. A week before the opening in December last year, a group of Greek lawyers tried to ban the film on the grounds that Stone was denigrating the figure of Alexander by making reference to his sexual proclivities, even though bisexuality was an accepted part of society in ancient Greece. The lawyers pulled the case from the courts at the last minute after being given a special screening by the local distributor, who also projected a disclaimer before the film’s titles saying that Alexander is not a historical documentary but the fictional vision of a filmmaker.Most gay commentators welcomed Stone’s efforts to address the emperor’s love affair with Hephaistion. But those same pundits commented that actors Colin Farrell (Alexander) and Jared Leto (Hephaistion)—not to mention Stone himself—were clearly uncomfortable depicting scenes of verbal or physical intimacy between the two men, although Stone clearly had no problem including a graphic lovemaking scene between Farrell and Rosario Dawson (as Alexander’s wife Roxane).So, did Warner Bros. make Stone take out gay footage from the final cut, as per the rumor which started circulating when the studio shifted the U.S. premiere from November 5 to November 29?The Advocate spoke to several sources—on condition of anonymity—who saw Stone’s first cuts of the film. They reveal that there was never a kiss between Farrell and Leto, as has been speculated.“That’s bullshit,” said Leto recently. “You think Oliver Stone is going to cut something out of a movie because it’s too controversial?”There was, however, an extended love scene between Alexander and the eunuch Bagoas (Francisco Bosch) that was trimmed. In the final cut, Alexander lies in bed and looks leeringly at Bagoas, who is standing by his bedside. In Stone’s first cut, Bagoas subsequently turned the light off and crawled into bed with Alexander. The two were then seen in silhouette kissing and writhing around. Evidently, this scene was considered dispensable.Stone wasn’t available to comment for this piece, and Warner Bros. referred all queries to the production company Intermedia. A spokesperson for the company was happy to talk about the deletions but stressed that Alexander’s first cut was nearly four hours, so numerous edits had to be made.Even with that scene cut down, Stone got into trouble with conservative groups, specifically for the key gay moment that remains in the film—an awkward hug between Alexander and Hephaistion. “I got bloody battered for acknowledging Alexander’s bisexuality,” Stone told the [London] Sunday Telegraph recently. “That hug between him and his lover Hephaistion—it wasn’t even a kiss, for fuck’s sake—got slated. The gays lambasted me for not making Alexander openly homosexual, and in the Bible Belt pastors were up in the pulpit saying that to watch this film was to be tempted by Satan.”Stone’s inability to capture same-sex passion left gay audiences feeling tepid about the central male relationship. One source, who saw the entire early cut, laughs at the awkwardness of the hug. “Ten or 15 years into their relationship, and they embrace as if they were 15-year-olds,” he says. “It was pubescent and embarrassing.”
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