Alexander: The Making Of A God is a six-part documentary series (Alexander Netflix 2024) that follows Alexander The Great’s ascent from a brief exile in Macedonia to becoming the country’s “boy king” at the age of 20, and eventually conquering the vast Persian Empire. The story is recounted through expert interviews and detailed rehearsed reenactments.
As we view real-life sequences of Dr. Calliope Limneos-Papakosta presiding over an archaeological dig in Alexandria, uncovering fresh artefacts from Alexander The Great’s reign, we meet Alexander (Buck Braithwaite) in Illyria in 334 B.C., the year before he exiled himself from Macedonia. There he hangs out with his two closest confidants, Ptolemy (Dino Kelly) and Hephaestion (Will Stevens). In actuality, the experts explore Alexander and Hephaestion’s intimate relationship, explaining that same-sex partnerships were prevalent in ancient Greece, with no clear demarcation between same-sex and opposite-sex pairings.
Alexander is sent back to Macedonia to attend his sister’s wedding; his father, King Philip (Christopher Sciueref), is marrying her off to a local warlord. His mother, Olympias (Kosha Engler), was the supreme monarch over all of Philip’s wives and wielded significant power over Alexander. Philip discusses reconciliation, but is stabbed by one of his guards before the reception is completed. With his father’s crown almost physically pushed on his head, Alexander becomes the new king and vows to attack the Persians, whom he believes are responsible for the assassination.
Darius (Mido Hamada), the great Persian monarch, determines that the upheaval in Macedonia presents an opportunity to attack and conquer. One of Alexander’s generals, Attalus (James Oliver Wheatley), is fighting the Persians on the outskirts of Persian land when he begins to doubt his allegiance to Macedonia.
Alexander: The Making of a God appears to strike a decent balance between professional talking head passages and contrived theatrical reenactments. However, as with previous such series, we wonder if the topic of Alexander the Great would have been better served by making the show a documentary or a drama.
The performances, particularly Braithwaite as Alexander, are well-modulated; the actors portray these characters as genuine individuals rather than characters from a Shakespeare play. However, as we’ve previously stated, using an interview-based narrative to drive the scenes gives the series no plot momentum; while the acting is generally good, and the dialogue isn’t cringeworthy, the scenes are still disjointed because there isn’t a connective tissue between them.
Because Alexander’s biography is so long and complex, it can be difficult to keep track of who is who if you are not a Greek history scholar. This, of course, is part of the narrative problem we discussed earlier. By the end of the episode, we know exactly where Attalus’ loyalties lay, but the tale has taken so many different turns at this time that we lost track of why he had to die and who was killing him.
Another casualty of the disconnected storytelling is Alexander’s connection with Hephaestion. While the concept of sexual fluidity in ancient Greece is mentioned, and Alexander and Hephaestion become romantically involved, it is unclear whether or not that topic will be handled later in the series. It feels like it’s there because it needs to be addressed, but it doesn’t really fit with the tale the scripted portion of the series is trying to tell.