• A historian awards
    a high score of nine out of 10 for its accuracy during a massive battle sequence.
  • The film correctly depicts battle formations and tactics as they are documented in primary source material.
  • Alexander
    was a significant critical and commercial failure upon its release in 2004.



Oliver Stone’s Alexander earns a high accuracy score from a historian, who assesses a major battle sequence. Released in 2004, Alexanderstars Colin Farrell as the titular Alexander the Great, the former King of Macedonia, chronicling his military conquests and fraught personal life. The film, which also stars Rosario Dawson, Anthony Hopkins, and Angelina Jolie, was a notable failure both critically and commercially.

In a recent video shared by Invicta, historian Dr. Roel Konijnendijk analyzes an epic battle scene from Alexander, finding that it’s actually surprisingly accurate.

According to Dr. Konijnendijk, the film makes use of accurate battle tactics and formations, all of which are seemingly gleamed from real source documents chronicling the conflict in question. Check out selections from his analysis below, as well as his score for the sequence out of 10 below:

“There’s so much going on here that you can directly trace back to ancient sources, although some other parts are obviously made up because they had to work with the extras that they had. So they created various ways of trying to keep the rhythm, all moving the spears back and forth and things like that.

This is cute, but it doesn’t really have any basis in fact. But then there are things like the fact that they chant the name of the war god “Enyalius,” which we are told is the Macedonian war cry. So you hear them chanting “Enyalius,”… turned into a way to keep the rhythm in the march. So these are really kind of inventive ways to make sure that all these guys, all these extras, know what they’re doing.

“As you fly over the battlefield you can see these squares of pikes, which are the pike formation…of the Macedonian phalanx. These are blocks of 16 by 16, forming 256 men. There are formations of 1500 men that consist of these blocks, and there are six of those in the Macedonian formation. You can see them all in the overview, it’s all laid out.

“And then you have Alexander’s cavalry, the companions, which are moving off to the side on one flank. The intent there was hopefully to try and separate the Persian wing opposite Alexander’s heavy cavalry from the rest of the army to create the gap, and then to charge into that gap while further troops from behind that cavalry wing on the Macedonian side would keep the Persian left wing busy. You can see all of that unfolding exactly as our best accounts and reconstructions of this battle have it…

“The way it looks is frankly unrivalled. There’s no other movie that does this much to try and portray the formations as they actually looked…. The advisers on this movie were really a crack team of scholars… Because the director really gave them a lot of leeway and listened to them, the result is the most accurate in terms of its faithfulness to the sources. The most accurate depiction of ancient combat that we have.

“Because you can point to these little things, I’m not going to give it 10, but nine out of 10 it definitely deserves.”


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Alexander Was A Major Failure

Why Oliver Stone’s Epic Flopped

 val kilmer, colin farrell, and angelina jolie in Alexander

Stone may be the director behind acclaimed true-story adjacent movies like Platoon and JFK, but that clearly didn’t make him immune from failure with Alexander. The movie currently holds a lackluster 16% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the audience score somewhat higher at 35%. Clearly, despite its military accuracy, the film didn’t resonate with either audiences or critics.

A frequent complaint in the Alexander reviews is the film’s length. The runtime clocks in at two hours and fifty-five minutes, truly making it quite the time commitment. While the three-hour Oppenheimer evidently made good use of its long runtime, Alexander ultimately becomes something of a slog to get through, with too many scenes feeling as if they could have been left on the cutting room floor. The movie’s biggest sin is that it fails at its central objective: digging into the man known as Alexander the Great to any meaningful or interesting degree.

Financially, Alexander was also a major disappointment. The film had a budget of $155 million and made only $167.3 million at the worldwide box office. It’s worth noting, too, that Stone hasn’t made a movie at Alexander‘s budget level since that film’s failure. Although the film was evidently a major disappointment, it is certainly commendable that it so accurately depicts ancient warfare and tactics.

Source: Invicta

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