Stone was lucky to find a historian who not only understands the limitations of dramatic visual storytelling, but is willing to become involved. Here’s a picture of Robin Lane Fox on horseback:
Fox, a scholar of many ancient languages and civilizations at Oxford, agreed to help on Stone’s film for “a place on horseback in the front ten of every major cavalry charge by Alexander’s cavalrymen to be filmed by Oliver on location.”
[Via Arts & Letters Daily.]
Still, as the horses advanced and the cameras rolled, Mr. Fox felt epiphanies flow through him. After decades of researching often-incomplete texts about Alexander’s time, he was now empirically testing history.
Yes, he sensed, you could charge with a lance without using stirrups. No, his body told him, you couldn’t carry a shield in your other arm while riding. And what of the popular notion that Alexander guided his soldiers with battlefield commands? That, too, felt hollow in the noisy rattle of battle, with dust limiting a cavalryman’s vision to the riders on either side. Later, Mr. Fox would become convinced that it was physically possible to run a man through with a lance from the back of a horse without losing the weapon. (Aim for the shoulder.)