MON CINEMA: Alexander The Great Starring Richard Burton (1956)


MON CINEMA: Alexander The Great Starring Richard Burton (1956)
by Darius Kadivar

Forget Oliver Stone's terrible Alexander. Robert Rossen's 1956 Epic Film Starring Richard Burton in the title role is certainly the most accurate cinematic depiction of the Macedonian Conqueror to date. The film was to introduce a young dashing Richard Burton to the American audience but the film was not the commercial success it ambitioned to be. Yet Burton's splendid voice and powerful performance could not be ignored and it is no surprise that he became one of the quentessential Hollywood Stars who was to seduce Elizabeth Taylor on the Set of the Hollywood Extravaganza Cleopatra. The Persians and King Darius III also appear in a more positive light in Rossen's film which is worth noting. Also French Star Danielle Darrieux who portrays Olympia, Alexander's mother was to play Marjane Satrapi's Grandma's voice in the now Classic Animated movie Persepolis. In itself this is a sweet ironic cinematic coincidence 50 years Apart !  ;0)

DVD available on

TRAILER: The Colossus That Conquered the World

Birth of Alexander

Alexander and Aristotle speak about the Persian Empire

Alexander's Rising Ambition: Macedonia Vs Greece - Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC)

Recommended Readings:

Robert Rossen's Alexander by Darius KADIVAR

Oliver Stone's Alexander by Darius KADIVAR




more from Darius Kadivar
Darius Kadivar

True Points

by Darius Kadivar on

Yes I agree with your points but at the same time Epic Films or Sword and Sandals set in Ancient Times are rarely aimed at historical accuracy but are often a pretext for Testosteron driven entertainment on a large scale. But Rossen's Alexander has the credit of being faithful to the historical texts of Herodotus and other historians of the Time ( obviously Greek) and the names and locations are accurately depicted unlike Oliver Stone's catasrophic film. The Problem with such larger than life characters now definitively part of human history is to sum up their life and times in less than 2 to 3 hours. What can be done in a book is virtually impossible on film unless it were a TV series.

At the same time I have to say that sword and sandal films of the 50's and 60's all in technicolour have a boyhood schoolyard charm that I cannot resist watching them over and over again without getting bored. The stories and situations are simplistic and the frontier between good and bad is very thin which makes the characters one dimensional to say the least. I nevertheless enjoy watching them like Westerns in which Cowboys vs Indians. You know that the cowboys are no better no worse than the Indians but still enjoy to watch a good fight on screen.




by Kurush (not verified) on

Of course to expect any historical accuracy would be futile in either Rossen's or that vain megalomaniac Stone's. This type of genre seeks to gloify the western military invincibility & prowess & wisdom at the expense of everything else, including the truth. The persians acted more noblely when they occupied Athens for a year in 480 BC. They did not loot nor burned it, even though they could have easily, as Alexander did in TakhtJamshid/ Persopolis. A l'egard Alexander's sexuality: as his army was advancing, his commanders were sending him pretty young boys that they had come across in the conquered lands. bisexuality being the norm in the Hellenic world. The projection of a viril 'man', all conquering and manly, rather than a mean bugger would of course not occure in any form of Western representation.