Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oliver Stone: "I’m not just a filmmaker"

Some directors specialize in sequels to create movie franchises. Oliver Stone has developed another angle: he does new cuts of “Alexander”.
At the Taormina Film Festival, he presented the third cut, entitled somewhat geeky but certainly precise “Alexander Revisited: The Final Unrated Cut”. In the master class, he talks about the movie, his ongoing Marihuana film project and why he’s not making political films.

Q: Can you say more about the first version of “Alexander”?

Oliver Stone: It cost a lot of money. We did manage to do break even in foreign countries, but not in the UK and the US. We ended up in the list of top 20 top grossing films of the year.

It wasn’t what I wanted it to be. People made it sound like it was the worst film of time. It was horrible for me. I knew Alexander well, and I assumed the audience knew what I know.

Q: When seeing “Alexander”, I saw certain parallels with Jesus.

Oliver Stone: I never thought of Alexander with the reference to Jesus. I see Alexander as a model for myself. He admired the Indian philosophy. He brought philosophers with him on this journey. His was a world of survival and strength.
It is interesting they both died at 33, but a lot of people die at or before 33.

I think of him as a pre-Jesus. Jesus is the guy who turned the other check. And that’s not at all Alexander.

Most of the Greek stories come from the east. Greek heroes go to the east, and they bring something to the west. The truth is Alexander never came home. He wanted to become more and more eastern. He made 500 of his officers intermarry. He goes beyond most Greek mythology.

The Christians didn’t like Alexander. The Christians destroyed a lot of Alexander literature. A lot of what we know about Alexander came from the east.

Q: What are your next projects?

Oliver Stone: I am finishing a documentary for television, which I’ve been working on for three to four years. I’m trying to make history entertaining for young people to see it. It is really the untold history of the US. We have been brainwashed. America is a closed society in many ways, even though we are a free society. We are not as educated about history; there is s certain uniformity of thought. We see ourselves as the good guy.

I will start a new movie in three and a half weeks. It’s about the Marihuana production in Southern California. In that area, southern California rules. The do the most advance work in genetics. So it’s an interesting time. In our movie we are proposing that the Mexican cartels have a big influence. They come after our young people. It becomes an interesting story like a western, the good and the bad.

Q: When JFK came out it sent shock waves trough the US. How do you see it now?

Oliver Stone: The movie was a shock at the time. There was lots of editorializing about it. They ignored fact it was a movie. I was using new techniques. We did a lot of revolutionary stuff. It got all politicized. We did a lot of research.

I continue to defend this film. I continue to think JFK was murdered. I continue to follow the case. JFK was going to do a peaceful coexistence, but the American military didn’t want to go down this path.

Q: I am surprised you are surprised that critics focus on political issues. Very few directors pick political subjects. I think you are the only one who picks political subjects for every film. Is every film a political one as Godard said?

Oliver Stone: Politics is very confusing to people in America. I think political film is impossible in that sense. I try to make my films entertaining. I’m a dramatist primarily.

When I speak sometimes extremely, I speak as private citizen. It doesn’t affect the work. I think you have to separate. I’m a citizen; I’m not just a filmmaker. 

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