Oliver Stone I leading the race over which one of the two movies will hit the theatres first
For months, there has been talk in Hollywood about two competing, big-budget versions of a film about the epic Macedonian King, Alexander the Great, both with Oscar-winning directors and actors attached. Oliver Stone, director of Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, is to direct one version, with Colin Farrell in the title role and Anthony Hopkins said to be playing Alexander’s general, Ptolemy. The Australian director Baz Luhrman, who made Moulin Rouge, is to direct the other, with stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman.
Now Dino De Laurentiis, the producer of the Luhrman version, has said that his shooting will not start until later this month and the film will be released in 2005. This will bring Stone’s version first into the cinemas in 2004: he has already shot his Himalayas scenes and is due to complete filming in Morocco by the end of the year. With a budget of 150 million dollars, 70 speaking roles and countless extras and special effects, De Laurentiis concluded there was no point in being first on the screen if the film was not ready.
His director agreed. “I am not going to be drawn into a race,” Luhrman told the LA Times. The Luhrman film stars this week reinforced their commitment to the film – even if inevitably meant it would be referred to as Alexander the Late.
DiCaprio, meanwhile, said: “What most attracts me is the complex character of Alexander himself.”
There has already been one Alexander the Great version; in 1956, Richard Burton, Claire Bloom and Stanley Baker starred in a film about the ruler. But many other plans to film the epic, including one by the director Martin Scorsese, became stuck in the sand. Jennifer Lopez had been scheduled to play Frida Kahlo in a different version from the one that won Salma Hayek an Oscar nomination this year, but plans were scrapped when the Hayek version went ahead.
But both sides in the race now on seem to feel there is room for all.
“Oliver [Stone] and I have always said that there’s nothing wrong with two Alexander projects,” said Moritz Borman of Intermedia, the producers of the Stone film.
WHO WAS ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Alexander III the Great (b. Pella, 356-d. Babylon, June 323 BC), the greatest conqueror in history, changed the map of the world by his achievements. Son of Philip II and Olympias, he was tutored by Aristotle, who introduced him to the Greek letters and philosophy. He was instructed in the art of war by his father, and was involved in the administration of the Macedonian kingdom from an early age.
At his accession to the throne in 336 BC, he carried out his father’s ambitious plans to annihilate the Persian empire. He reached as far as the Indus River (334-324 BC) with his large army, while concurrently sending out scientific exploratory expeditions.
The rapprochement of the conquered peoples under the novel conditions of equality initiated by Alexander, and a common, Greek, language and education constituted the soldering links of his vast dominions.
His untimely death left the empire without an heir. His son by Roxane, Alexander IV, died at an early age. The dismemberment of his empire by the Successors did not hinder the fruitful interaction of Greek culture with those of the Near and Middle East, which led to the emergence of the Hellenistic civilization.