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ALEXANDER

Reconstructing The Ancient World
In keeping with the aim of achieving the highest possible level of historical accuracy for Alexander, each prop, weapon, piece of furniture and set dressing was designed and created specifically for the production. Workshops for the art and wardrobe departments were established and active months before the cameras rolled.

"The look of the movie began with figuring out where the natural settings could be shot,” says production designer Jan Roelfs. "We needed to find locations to stand in for Macedonia, Persia, Bactria, Sogdiana, the Hindu Kush and India. Bactria and Sogdiana don't even exist anymore, and are now part of modern Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Outer Mongolia. It's amazing the puzzle you put together. With landscapes, you have to be very specific, otherwise they all blend together.”

On location scouts, Stone and Roelfs combed much of the world to find appropriate landscapes for Alexander's journey, ultimately deciding upon Morocco and Thailand, as well as Pinewood and Shepperton Studios outside of London for the interior sets. Morocco was perfect for the film's expansive requirements. What the country had to offer in terms of landscape, personnel and an atmosphere evocative of ancient times made it the perfect place on the world map in which to recreate much of Alexander's life.

"Most importantly, we had to consolidate to make the film possible,” says producer Jon Kilik. "We couldn't actually go through dozens of countries and thousands of miles, as Alexander did. We had to focus on a couple of different areas in which we could find different looks. Just outside of Marrakech, we had deserts, plains, mountains, heat and snow, all within an hour-and-a-half of each other. In Essaouira, we had our Macedonia, with the ocean, vegetation, rock formations and plant life all different from the Marrakech area. For an important river location in India, we couldn't find anything exotic enough in Morocco, so we found an amazing location in Ubon Ratchathani province on the Mekhong River in Thailand, on the Laos border. Thailand also allowed us to solve the problem of staging a battle featuring trained Asian elephants.”

Well before the start of principal photography, Stone and director of photography Rodrigo Prieto shot special footage in both Malta and India's Himalayas, to be used for visual effects "plate shots” – the former for Alexandria's harbor, including the fabled Pharos Lighthouse, another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the latter as a backdrop for Alexander's journey across the snowy wastes of the Hindu Kush.

Stone and Prieto worked out a carefully designed visual scheme, which they threaded throughout the entire film. "We decided to give a different look and feel to each period of Alexander's life,” says the cinematographer. "The Macedonia sequences in which Alexander is younger have very pure, ‘innocent' colors. For the Battle of Gaugamela, we wanted the color of the desert and the sand to infuse the whole image, so we used a tobacco filter, which gave it an orange-yellow look, and we also went with a film stock that's just a touch more grainy to give more texture to the battle. We wanted a golden feeling for Babylon, saturated with color, then later, when Alexander crosses the Hindu Kush, we started going a little cooler. For the India sequence, we wanted the exact opposite of Macedonia, so we went for a very grainy film stock and did a process on the negative that enhanced the contrast.”

Few aspects of the Alexander shoot were as daunting as the need to re-create the elements of the world that surrounded the young king, covering more than 30 years of ancient history and crossing much of the world as it was known during his lifetime. Jan Roelfs and his art department team were being stared down by historical necessity and artistic veracity. The question was how to re-invent this ancient world with both a

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