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Biography of the ancient warrior who conquered the known world.
King Philip of Macedonia embarks on relentless brutal military campaigns to conquer all of Greece. While he is away at war, his wife Olympias gives birth to their first son, Alexander, and sends word that the baby is a god. Philip returns to see his son, and is suspicious of the child's paternity when Olympias' devoted Egyptian soothsayer, Nectenabus, who is rumored to be the baby's father, reiterates his claim. The king confides in his aides that he is considering having Nectenabus killed, and Parmenio urges him to also kill the scheming Olympias and the baby to avoid appearing like a jealous lover. However, Philip instead proudly displays the new prince to his populace. By the time the highly educated and sheltered Alexander is a young man, he longs for the glory of battle. Philip, meanwhile, more powerful than ever, chafes under the label of barbarian, due to public perception that he is a brutal conqueror but a weak ruler. In time, Philip appoints Alexander to be the regent of Macedonia, against the advice of Alexander's teacher, the philosopher Aristotle, who believes Alexander is immature. At the palace at Pella, where Olympias resides, Philip warns Alexander that his mother is plotting to destroy Philip and rule Macedonia through Alexander. To that end, she has installed her brother's army on the Macedonian border. Before he leaves for battle, Philip instructs Alexander to exile Olympias. When Alexander refuses, Philip assigns Antipater to be his son's political advisor. Alexander, who believes the prediction that he is a god and is destined to die young, eagerly exercises his power by waging war against local tribes. In 356 B.C., Greek statesmen Aeschenes and Demosthenes publicly debate Philip's legacy of warfare, and Alexander visits his father's encampment to join the attack on Athens, but is offended by Philip's romance with Eurydice, the niece of General Attalus. Philip chastises his son for naming conquered cities after himself, erecting statues devoted to his own image and denuding their tribes of prospective warriors. Philip nevertheless gives Alexander command of a regiment that will attack the Athenian army. Despite Alexander's reservations about his father, he saves Philip's life during their victorious battle at Chaeronea, and is hailed as a hero. Fearing assassination and hoping to save Athens from destruction, Philip sends Alexander to arrange a peace treaty. In Athens, Alexander meets Demosthenes, Aeschenes and General Memnon, and becomes attracted to Memnon's wife Barsine. Demosthenes reluctantly signs the treaty that makes Athens part of Philip's empire, despite his belief that Athenians have lost their freedom. When Alexander returns to Pella he learns that Philip has divorced and humiliated Olympias. The resentful Alexander dutifully attends Philip's wedding to Eurydice, but later argues with his father. At the wedding celebration, Attalus loudly suggests that Alexander is illegitimate. Alexander assaults him, then belittles Philip when the king drunkenly stumbles in his attempt to stop the fight. Alexander then awakens his mother and insists they leave Pella immediately. When Eurydice later gives birth to a son, Philip issues pardons and welcomes back exiles, including Olympias and Alexander, who is made an army commander. However, Philip banishes Alexander's closet friends, Harpalus, Ptolemy, Philotas and Pausanias, as he believes they incite Alexander's disloyalty. That night, Alexander overhears his mother insinuate to the drunk and embittered Pausanias that he would be famous if he killed Philip. The next day at a religious ceremony, Pausanias assassinates Philip, and is himself killed by Alexander in retribution. Alexander then presents himself to his father's army, which has the right to elect the next king, and publicly disavows involvement in his father's murder, and pledges to continue the mission to conquer Persia. Alexander inherits the throne and claims the loyalty of all Greek statesmen except for Memnon, who rejects Alexander's claim on Athens. Two other rebellious statesmen are stoned to death on Alexander's orders. Eurydice commits suicide, and Polemias, one of Philip's aides, informs Alexander that Olympias has murdered Eurydice's child. By the spring of 334 B.C., Alexander has led his vast army through Asia, and begins to work his way to Persia. Memnon, meanwhile, is an advisor to the Persian emperor Darius, who insists on confronting Alexander's army at Granicus. One morning, Barsine, who is Persian and Greek, pleads with Memnon to avoid battle, and he believes she is in love with Alexander. The Macedonian army wins the first battle at Granicus and, after Alexander refuses to grant Memnon and his troops quarter, they are killed in an ensuing conflict. After solving the riddle of the legendary Gordion Knot by simply slicing the rope in two, Alexander cuts a bloody swath across the land and imprisons any Greek or Athenian who opposes him, except Barsine, who has become his lover. When Alexander receives scrolls proving that Demosthenes has betrayed him to Darius, Alexander is advised to return to Athens and force the Athenians' loyalty, without which no one believes they can win in Persia. Alexander is haunted by memories of his father and collapses. The next day, he disbands the fleet and grants his army the freedom to return home or remain and fight. Darius later sends a message belittling Alexander, and demanding that he withdraw. Instead, Alexander focuses his attention on killing Darius in battle, as the Persians will not fight without their commander. Alexander's plan partially succeeds when Darius is wounded, but escapes. Alexander adopts Darius' family, whom he finds at Darius' camp, while Darius and a small band of men continue to flee until his men mutiny and murder him. Later, Alexander finds a letter on Darius' body in which the emperor calls him son, and bids him to wed his daughter Roxane in order to meld their countries. Alexander is moved by the king's vision and has Darius' slayer impaled. Despite his victory, Alexander longs for even greater power. In time, he leads his army into India and demands that even his friends address him as a god. When his friend Philotas is heard complaining that Alexander's ambition leads to bloodshed, Alexander has Philotas and his father slain. Bitterness spreads among Alexander's most loyal friends. When Cleitus, his most devoted ally, angrily confronts Alexander and accuses him of self-aggrandizement and disloyalty, Alexander stabs him in the back with a spear, then sobs over the body. Exhausted and disillusioned, Alexander marches his remaining troops back to Macedonia. At Susa, a renewed Alexander pledges to conquer the hearts of mankind, rather than their territories, and marries Roxane in a mass wedding between Persians and Greeks. After the ceremony, Alexander makes a toast to his fallen family and friends, and prays for peace. At that moment, Alexander collapses. With his last breath, Alexander urges Barsine to allow his body to disappear into the Euphrates River, so that people will believe that he was a god. Alexander then wills his empire to the strongest among his men, and dies.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||London, England premiere: 22 Mar 1956; Los Angeles and New York premieres: 28 Mar 1956|
|Release Date:||1956||Production Date:||
EB; UCLA; AFI
has 16mm Scope print - R-A4-310-4, M57664 + VHS from this print (squeezed) P-VA3620
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound System)||Production Co:||Rossen Films, S.A., C.B. Films|
|Duration(mins):||137, 141 or 143||Country:||Spain and United States|
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alex the great
kevin sellers 2017-03-12
After watching the first ten minutes of this film I couldn't help but muse on how there is no sillier phenomenon than a bad Greco/Roman Hollywood...
Too painful to watch
You should have aired "The Key" (1958) [which I missed seeing this AM], at the time slot that this film was aired. But the airing of this film...
Okay but no world beater
Oliver Cutshaw 2012-06-29
The movie features the handsome, young, dynamic Richard Burton, Peter Cushing, Frederic March, and a cast of thousands but it never gets past being a...