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The True Story of Alexander the Great (History Channel)
The True Story of Alexander the Great
History Channel
Actor: Peter Woodward
Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary
NR     2005     2hr 30min

Tutored by Aristotle, helpless witness to his father's assassination, and a brilliant, pioneering tactician, Alexander the Great had conquered the known world--and sealed his legacy as one of history's most remarkable rule...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Peter Woodward
Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Educational, Biography, History
Studio: A&E Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Letterboxed
DVD Release Date: 01/25/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 30min
Screens: Color,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Entertaining but not groundbreaking
Mobius | Folsom, CA United States | 02/02/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is a worthy documentary but it is rather short. It tries to strike a balance by showing Alexander's life from youth until he eventually assumed the reigns of power and conquered the known world. There is no one outstanding or trully memorable sequence in this documentary nor is there colorful or dramatic commentary. There are some CGI scenes (that are used over and over) that do paint a fine picture of the Macedonian army's formations. Some of the battles are explored with superficial detail and provide a shallow analysis of the strategies used.

For anyone who really likes this documentary, I would highly recommend "In the Footsteps of Alexander" by Michael Wood. In that DVD, Alexander's footsteps are re-traced from the time he left his home (never to see it again) until his death. It has many memorable scenes and fine commentary by Wood. Neither documentary provides an exhaustive portrait of the man but they do help you get there with further research."
Heavily biased
Andariel Halo | Phenomynouss@hotmail etc is my e-mail | 02/26/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Standing alone as a documentary, without any pre-knowledge of Alexander the Great, one would view this as highly informative and well structured.

However, if you know even the basics of what Alexander did, you'll find yourself a bit concerned with the way events are told.

If you're an expert, you'll feel bitter at how this "documentary" is very biased.

It tells a very informative account of Alexander's exploits, with the typical documentary style of a narrator along with the side-angle shot of historians and experts talking about subjects, along with some re-enactments of some events and the commercial breaks, even re-enactments of Plutarch, Arrian, Curtius Rufus, and such telling us directly what they wrote about Alexander.

However, the documentary leaves no room open for ambiguity, as the historians give their one-sided opinions on Alexander's character and the documentary goes along with that without showing other views.

For one, the documentary (this includes many of the experts' testimony) takes the ancients' words and twists their ambiguity for their own interpretation. Alexander is portrayed as a power-hungry, greedy, drunken little boy who isn't happy doing anything but conquering people. When he kills Philotas, he is obliged to kill Parmenion, but the documentary simply leaves it at "he also had his father Parmenion killed" without further explanation, leaving non-experts feeling as if Alexander brutally had Parmenion killed just because he was Philotas's father.

The events which paint Alexander in a favorable light (such as treating Darius's body with great respect) are given a very empty, neutral tone, while most all other events paint Alexander like a brutal, tyrannic, drunken dictator, burning Persepolis because he was drunk and wanted to please the Greeks, attacking cities like Mali and crossing the Gedrosian desert because he wanted to squeeze some last conquests out of his army, essentially screwing them when he promised them they'd come home. The very least that can be said against this bias is that it doesn't directly claim that Alexander had his father Philip killed.

The purpose of a documentary is to provide an unbiased, accurate, highly detailed and informational account, and occasionally make it entertaining. This documentary fails in its first task, to be unbiased. It's almost as if the writers had no opinion on the subject, interviewed three or four historians who gave their relatively negative opinions, and made that the general theme of the entire piece.

Not the best documentary. If you watch this, keep in mind what Alexander accomplished, not just militarily, but in uniting barbarous tribes under civilization, spread technology and culture, did not erase Persian culture, but embraced it and even tried to mix it with Greek. He was a heavy drinker, yes, he made mistakes, yes, but if we judge everyone by a select few actions, we see Stonewall Jackson as a wicked, intolerant, hateful man, Hannibal as a genius mad with anger and hate for Rome, on a bucherous quest to murder Romans, and Caesar as a cold-blooded murderer and dictator. Ambiguity in his actions is what makes Alexander the Great, son of Zeus-Ammon, truly human, and this documentary fails to capture this.
Steven Hancock | Winston Salem, NC United States | 08/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""The True Story of Alexander the Great" gives the viewer a fascinating look at the life of the greatest warrior who ever lived. From his controversial birth (Was his father Philip, or was he the son of the god Zeus?) and his rise to fame, to his brilliant campaigns east and his untimely death at thirty-two years of age, be prepared to learn as much as you can about Alexander in three hours! This is a brilliant and well-crafted documentary that belongs in any history teacher's collection of documentaries! Also, it is a great companion piece to Oliver Stone's epic film, "Alexander!"

Documentary Grade: A+"
Very Disappointing Documentary About Alexander
Virtuoso Fan | Murrieta, CA USA | 04/10/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Being a true Alexander buff that I am, I was very disappointed with this DVD. It's apparent from its production values that the History Channel didn't want to allocate the resources (expenses) that a production about the life of history's greatest conqueror deserves.

The battle scenes and the enactment of the drama are very amateurish. It's almost like you'd rather see Peter Woodward sitting behind a desk talking about Alexander. I didn't even really consider the bias elements that another reviewer noted as I sat uninterested through the program. It would have been okay if I was catching it on TV, but I soon felt that it was a waste of money and not deserving of being in my collection of all things Alexander.

You'll get a LOT more out of reading a few good books about Alexander and watching the Oliver Stone movie (the third 'Final Cut' version). It's better than worthless as it attempts to teach the viewer at least something about Alexander - hence two stars - but it'd be best to catch this on the History Channel sometime rather than spending the money on such a poorly conceived program."