Alexander the Great
Robert Rossen's CinemaScope epic Alexander the Great (1956), starring Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Fredric March, Harry Andrews, Niall McGinnis, and Barry Jones has been out of DVD in Europe for several years, and finally showed up as a region-one disc in October of 2004, complete with the original trailer (letterboxed, like the movie, at 2.35-to-1). The materials are in excellent shape and the film-to-video transfer isn't far behind. Capturing the beauty of Robert Krasker's photography, the detail is excellent, and the color is even better; when dust blows across a battlefield, we see the clouds of it in good resolution; this is still the kind of title, in its brightness and rich color and spectacle, that can serve as a demonstration disc on large-screen monitors. The 136- minute movie has been given 16 chapters that are just adequate to the task of breaking down the historical epic, especially with a pretty complex script authored by Rossen, one of the most literate of directors/producers. The disc opens up to a simple two-layer menu that includes selections for subtitles in English, French, and Spanish; Spanish and English-language audio tracks are available. Alas, there is no insert or other framework for annotation on this fascinating artifact of Hollywood's and European cinema's romance with epic film subjects.