Get Napster Premium!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Alexander: A Potpourri of Fighting, Sex, and Inaccurate Accents

I don’t know if this shite bothers any of you as much as it bothers me, but here goes… What is the deal with movies set in ancient Greece or Rome -- or Macedonia, Epirus, and Thessalia for that matter?

It never fails, I start watching a film set in ancient Greece and the first character that opens his/her mouth to let some dialogue… has a BRITISH accent! If that isn’t anachronistic, I don’t know what is. I can’t tell you how many plays I’ve seen, which are set in Ancient Greece or Rome with this basic flaw. Just an FYI… Julius Caesar didn’t make his first expedition into Great Britain until 55 B.C.E. A whopping 268 years after Alexander the Great died (275 years after Alexander got to third base with Hephaistion, his main man at the time).

Getting back to the point…I’m not a thespian, so I don’t know the inside story about this British accent that is so pervasive in Greek and Roman plays, but my guess is that it must be taught in thousands upon thousands of flawed acting schools around the globe. Another reason that the British accent is used may be that affecting a Greek accent might be a little tougher to master. It seems to be the technique used for plays set in ancient times. This is the reason we did not hear a throng of British accents in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Conversely, I never heard one “opah!” in Alexander , even when they were throwing their big shindigs. If there were British accents in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and “opah” showed up in Alexander, they would have cinematically cancelled each other out by the Cinematic Reciprocal Flaw Rule (I just made that up).

At the time of Alexander’s life (356 B.C.E. to 323 B.C.E) I don’t believe that the British accent sported by so many of the actors in the movie existed. I’m no linguist. It’s just an educated guess. Two major facts lead me to believe this:

1. Great Britain did not formally come into existence until January 1, 1801.

2. The distance between modern day London, England and Athens, Greece is 2392.68 km (1486.74 mi).

3. The distance between modern day London, England and Rome, Italy is 1448.49 km (900.05 mi.).

I never said that I could count.

I’m fully aware that it was possible to travel these distances back in 356 B.C.E., but I don’t think that it happened very often. Often enough to have an appreciable amount of genetic drift to transplant a British (British-like) accent in ancient Greece or Rome. I also realize that just because England and/or Great Britain didn’t formally exist, it doesn’t mean that a variant (or variants) of the ever popular British accent couldn’t have existed. All of the accents in the neighboring regions (Scotland and Wales) probably have exerted slight influences on each other in some way or another. Meter, inflection, borrowed words, back formations of words from one language to another, etc.

If a Greek or Roman person was able to make the trek to Great Britain and stayed for a few months, it is high likely that he (or she) may have picked up a British accent. Call me crazy, but I’ve known people, to which this has happened. A person goes to Britain for a short while on a corporate job gig or with a legion of foot soldiers on a campaign to take over scattered Welsh, Scottish, and English tribes and…poof! They come home sounding like a limey.

Back to the movie, Alexander, I don’t want to even get started on Colin Farrell’s (Alexander) Irish accent or Angelina Jolie’s (Olympias) Russian accent – a lot of badly rolled R’s. Overall, I think most people watched this movie for the same reason they watched the HBO series Oz … All of the fighting and the (implied) sex.

An after thought: Along the same lines, this past July (2005) I was in New York and happened to get tickets to see Julius Caesar on Broadway starring Denzel Washington.

You guessed it…Ancient Rome, Oscar-winning Black actor from New York, British accent. I got to meet Mr. Washington afterwards and I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from asking him about the British accent. He would have probably gotten pissed and made it so I would never work in movies again. In New York, Hollywood, or anywhere for that matter.

Oh, BTW, my camera was not working for this photo op, so the woman behind me agreed that she would take my picture with her camera and send me the picture via email. Of course I gave her my email address, name, and contact info. It's been 5 months and the beeotch hasn't sent me my picture of me hugging (in a manly way) Denzel Washington. Deep inside I knew this would happen. Altruism is dead.

Matt "Maximus" Largo


Post a Comment

<< Home

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.