Thursday, November 18, 2004

Alexander Movie 'Too Gay' For Audiences?


November 18, 2004 -- IS Oliver Stone's $150 million epic "Alexander" too gay for mainstream audiences? Stone, who previously stirred controversy with "JFK" and "Natural Born Killers," is on the hot seat again with his biopic about the bisexual Macedonian emperor, played by Colin Farrell, which opens next Wednesday.
As Alexander the Great, Farrell speaks softly and sports a blond pageboy and mini-toga, looking a bit like something out of Queer Eye for the Macedonian Guy.
In scenes that may raise eyebrows with some action-movie fans, the Irish actor kisses two men - a Macedonian soldier and a hunky topless Persian castrato named Bogoas, who becomes his lover - full on the mouth.
While Farrell has a steamy sex scene with an unclothed Rosario Dawson as Alexander's wife, Roxane, the film leaves little doubt that the true love of the conqueror's life is his boyhood friend turned fellow warrior, Hephaistion, portrayed by Jared Leto.
"It was said ... that Alexander was never defeated, except by Hephaistion's thighs," the aged Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins) says in narrating the saga.
While Alexander and Hephaistion are never seen in bed or even kissing, there are several deep hugs and lots of meaningful glances.
In one scene, a possessive Hephaistion turns the frustrated Roxane away from Alexander's tent - and later, Alexander accuses his jealous wife of fatally poisoning his very special pal.
"Alexander lived in a more honest time," Stone told Playboy magazine.
"We go into his bisexuality. It may offend some people, but sexuality in those days was a different thing. Pre-Christian morality. Young boys were with boys when they wanted to be."
"Alexander" was originally scheduled to open on Nov. 5, and there were widespread reports - since denied - that Warner Bros. postponed the release because of flak about the gay content at early screenings.
"I don't know how people are going to respond," Jeff Robinov, Warner Bros. president of production, confessed to Entertainment Weekly, "but I know Oliver didn't run from who this guy was."
At the movie's premiere Tuesday in Los Angeles, Farrell shot down rumors that a gay sex scene had ended up on the cutting room floor.
"There was nothing really re-edited, man," he said. "The film that you see is the film that was originally intended."
Says Playboy: "We may have had a few takes of them [Alexander and Hephaistion] kissing, but it wasn't my intention" to show anything physically explicit.
The director is also starting to get complaints from gay activists that the film soft-pedals Alexander's sexuality.
Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, who has long monitored homosexual behavior in Hollywood films, says they tend to shy away from showing the physical aspects of gay love, especially when major stars are involved.
"This film tries to have it both ways, like Alexander himself," Musto said.
"It can be hinted at, it can be talked about, but it can't be shown. Whenever gay stuff has been cut out of these movies, it seems to damage these movies at the box office."
But Hephaistion himself, Leto, insists that sometimes less is more.
"The love between these men goes far deeper than just sex," he said at the movie's press junket. "If they were to have a sex scene, it would imply a carnal relationship rather than a deeper relationship."
Stone is even more blunt.
"You only need five words. Alexander says, 'Stay with me tonight, Hephaistion,' and you get it. If you don't get it, f--- you, it's your problem."