LONDON – Director Oliver Stone said he was surprised by the critical reaction to his historical epic “Alexander” – and put the blame on the fundamentalist morality in some parts of the United States.
Critics lambasted the film, which stars Irish actor Colin Farrell, and some conservative groups condemned Stone’s depiction of the Macedonian conqueror’s sexuality.
“I was quite taken aback by the controversy and fierceness of the reviews about a character we don’t really know too much about,” Stone told reporters in London Wednesday before the film’s British premiere.
“I operate on my passion and sometimes I’m naive, I don’t think about the consequences,” he said.
Stone said the commercial failure of “Alexander” in the United States could be linked to “a raging fundamentalism in morality.”
“From day one audiences didn’t show up,” he said. “They didn’t even read the reviews in the South because the media was using the words, `Alex the gay.’ As a result you can bet that they thought, `We’re not going to see a film about a military leader that has got something wrong with him.’”
Stone, director of “Platoon,” “JFK” and “Natural Born Killers,” said “Alexander” was “the epic of my life.”
“I’m very happy with the result and I think Colin’s work is extraordinary,” he said. “He’s had some tough reviews but he’ll ride it out.”
Said Farrell: “If Oliver ever wanted to work with me again I would do it in a heartbeat.”
DISCLOSURE: I have A) not seen the film and B) not enjoyed many of Oliver Stone’s previous films.
Poor, Oliver! He had an Academy Award winner on his hands until the Christians and Rednecks got in the way. Or maybe not… if critics can be believed (and we are writing for a web site called Blogcritics… this movie stunk on its own merits.
Again, let me repeat, I did not go see it so I cannot declare it a piece of rubbish. But I can take issue with the way Stone is going about defending his movie. When will Hollywood learn they are not constitutionally entitled to an audience? They have a right to make any film they want, but they are not guaranteed a hit. Freedom of speech includes freedom from speech. Audience indifference is not censorship, it is freedom of choice!
As to the specifics of Stone’s complaints, antagonizing a large segment of the buying public is not the best way to make money. Homosexuality is controversial in America. Should it be? I am not interested in being drawn into that debate. There is a divide in America over the issue and that is a reality. Artists have a choice: take risks or play it safe. There are virtues to both schools of thought. Art that brings people together can be special and so can art that explores the uncomfortable. There is place for both (and some would argue the best art is that which manages to have a foot in each camp) in this world.
Oliver Stone spent $80 million (and it was probably someone else’s money). He made a film the critics trashed and the audiences ignored. And I do not feel sorry for him.