Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Alexander Revisited

I've got a ton of work to do before tomorrow... I will probably be awake until about 4 am *again*. But I could not stop myself from watching "Alexander Revisited" as soon as I brought it home. It is stunning... beyond stunning; it is a masterpiece! This is what the movie *should* have looked like in the theatrical version. It was everything that Oliver Stone had originally promised. If you have even the slightest interest in Alexander, run and do not walk and get yourself a copy of "Alexander Revisited" ASAP.

The acid-trip and schizophrenic tendencies of the original theatrical cut has been excised from most of the film and what little is left is downplayed dramatically. More is explained. The film flows better, is arranged more logically, and is much clearer. No more, "what the heck is going on?" through most of Gaugamela. You can tell what's going on in this version... and the rest of the movie is the same way. Cleitus' spectacular death is pretty much word-for-word from the historical record now and totally amazing. There is even more of Roxane than in the theatrical version... much more than I ever wanted to see... *but* there is much, much more of Hephaistion (always happy to see more of him!), and, omg, Bagoas isn't mute! His voice is a little nasal (and his accent, while totally appropriate, a little difficult to get past at times), but I'm not minding so much because, dude, he has lines and is now a full character. And all the ambiguity of the theatrical version has been cleared up... And all the parts that I had to listen to ten times to decipher with the theatrical seem to have much clearer sound in this version, or the voices seem clearer and more precise. ::sighs:: It makes me happy... And because I've seen the theatrical cut so many times, I've been desensitized to the last 40 or so minutes so I don't cry anymore when I see it.

There are no special features on the DVDs... It's pretty much a bare-bones DVD set, but I don't care, I don't care! This was well worth the wait and I am not at all disappointed!


halilakh@gmail.com said...

Hi Rachel,
Ilana's mom here. I think that DNA might prove that they shared genetic traits with Jews, Arabs or Ethiopians. As far as I know, there is no such thing as Jewish DNA.

Rachael said...

Hi! ;D

As far as I know, geneticists have identified certain DNA markers that point to the likelihood of an individual being of Eastern European Jewish ancestry. A few years ago, I read about a study which was done to identify the DNA profiles of different European ethnic groups. The geneticists involved concluded that they have identified markers which indicate Eastern European Jewish ancestry, among several other ethnic groups, and from what I understand, they can now do the same for any ethnic group which tended to not marry outside of itself for several consecutive centuries.

Interestingly enough, I have a close friend who submitted his DNA for a genetic study to identify different Native American DNA markers a few years ago because he knows that he's part Blackfoot and Crow. Geneticists in the US are apparently trying to do a study similar to what was done with the one in Europe.

I also read about a more recent study, within the past year or so, which identified a certain marker on the Y chromosome that indicates Scandinavian ancestry and is found natively in no other ethnic group. Geneticists in Scotland have used that marker to determine the percentage of Scottish individuals with Viking heritage. Their conclusion was that something like 70% of all Scots alive today can trace their ancestry back to at least one Viking ancestor and that this is evidence of the degree of Viking incursions into Scotland by raiding parties and immigrants during the 8th - 11th centuries. Whether that's true or not, I don't know, but that's what the geneticists claim.

Marrying outside of the Jewish ethnic group was seriously frowned upon during the Second Temple Period, which was when the occupants of the tomb in question supposedly lived. At the beginning of that period, at the end of the Babylonian Exile, everyone who could not prove through extensive genealogical records that they were Jewish on both sides of their family were expelled from Judea on pain of death and these people became the Samaritans. So I would think that geneticists could put together a profile for ancient Jewish DNA and see how close the tomb's occupants come to it. Certainly, the DNA of Arabian, Canaanite, Phoenician, Egyptian, and other Semitic peoples would be very similar. But if the samples are good enough - that is, complete enough - and they have enough on file to check them against, I don't see why they couldn't find a marker common only to ancient Jews, just as they have with European ethnic groups, if they haven't already. But maybe not. I'm really just making an educated guess here... That certainly seems to be what James Cameron's experts are claiming they've already done.

Now, I can't see how the results of such a test would necessarily prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the individuals possibly or possibly not found in the Jerusalem suburb tomb were Jewish, but that's the best result that the people studying the tombs could possibly hope for. They couldn't possibly identify the subjects any closer than ethnic group through DNA... James Cameron does seem to be claiming that the DNA profiles prove more than just ethnic group... Only time and further research will tell.