Alexander the Gay? A Great Battle Is Unfolding in Hollywood between Rival Versions of the Life of Greek Conqueror Alexander the Great-And Whether Either Will Depict His Gay Loves. (Film)

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We've seen Hollywood studios compete to produce two movies about volcanic eruptions, missions to Mars, asteroids hurtling toward Earth, even two computer-animated movies about ants--but this year the grandest race of all is being fought in Tinseltown to bring to the screen the life story of Macedonian king and warrior Alexander the Great. One is the long-planned vision of the inimitable Oliver Stone; the other is being spearheaded by veteran producer Dino De Laurentiis with Baz Luhrmann directing. Both will easily cost over $100 million to make, even with the assistance of computer-generated imagery. So how then, if at all, will they tackle the well-documented fact that Alexander, who died at the age of 32 in 323 B.C., was bisexual?

"Alexander's great love was Haphaestion, and he modeled himself on the great Greek warrior Achilles, whose great love was Patroclus," explains Eric Shanower, the out creator of the comic book series The Age of Bronze. "When Alexander made it to the site of Troy, he made sacrifices at the tomb of Achilles in his honor."

Certainly Oliver Stone is not shying away from the facts. Stone finished the latest draft of his Alexander script in August and now has Colin Farrell attached to star, with plans to shoot in Morocco and Spain before the year is out. He has been working on the project for seven years--with Tom Cruise and Heath Ledger among the Alexanders he has wooed and lost--but he remains committed to depicting Alexander's sexual relationships with men as well as his three marriages to women.

In 1998 Stone was snubbed by the Greek government after sending them the script. He was told that unless he removed the bisexuality from the film, the government would not cooperate. The Athens News Agency reported at the time that the reason for the noncooperation was that "Stone's vision of the life of Alexander the Great would differ markedly from the historical version."

The De Laurentiis-Luhrmann version, which is not as advanced in development as Stone's version but already has the backing of Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox, may be less likely to address Alexander's homosexual activities. This film will be based on a trilogy of books by Italian historian Valerio Massimo Manfredi, who carefully airbrushed out the gay content from the classical texts and focused on a dramatic straight love affair with Barsine, the wife of one of Alexander's conquered kings, Memnon of Rhodes. …