(Ancient) History on Screen

From the very beginnings of cinematography, themes from the ancient world and the Bible have provided directors and screenwriters with inspiration. The representation of ­antiquity in the movies, and more generally in pop culture, is now a ­stimulating field of research within classical studies. In the last decade, perhaps no film has attracted so much ­interest and debate among ­historians and classicists as Oliver Stone’s Alexander (2004). In this talk, Stone discusses his ­experience making this movie, its challenges, and, more ­generally, his approach to historical themes.

A panel discussion and a question-and-answer session follow the talk. The panel, chaired by Angelos Chaniotis, Professor of Ancient History and Classics in the School of Historical Studies, also includes two current Members, Nathanael Andrade, Assistant Professor of Ancient History at the University of Oregon, and Yannis Hamilakis, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Southampton, and the acclaimed director and film historian Gary Leva.

Oliver Stone, a recipient of three Academy Awards for directing and screen­writing, has frequently addressed controversial historical subjects in his films: ­important episodes of contemporary U.S. history (the Vietnam War, the assassinations of President Kennedy and the radio host Alan Berg, the ­presidencies of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, 9/11); U.S. culture and society (The Doors, Any Given Sunday, Wall Street, Natural Born Killers); and the history of Latin America (the civil war in El Salvador). His interest in history is also manifest in a series of documentary films on Latin America (Comandante, Looking for Fidel, South of the Border), the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Persona Non Grata), and more recently U.S. history (The Untold History of the United States).

Event supported by the Dr. Lee Seng Tee Fund for Historical Studies



Oliver Stone


Institute for Advanced Study