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Troy (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition) (2004)

A movie directed by Wolfgang Petersen

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A Very Respectable Rendering of the Trojan War

  • Feb 1, 2005
Based loosely on Homer's Iliad, this film recreates the Trojan war in telescoped form, compressing a decade and more of momentous events into a few weeks of political maneuvering and a few days of outright fighting. It succeeds in a variety of ways.

It creates an authentic seeming eastern Mediterranean bronze age world, not infected by the latter day Greece of classical times (which is more familiar to us), and thereby establishes a convincing cultural backdrop for the decisions which may actually have driven the events recorded by Homer. The war, itself, is shown for what it most probably was, a power-driven effort by one group to dominate another, and not a massive effort to reclaim a wayward woman.

The characters, though drastically shrunk in number from those who people the Iliad, come convincingly to life through the efforts of screenwriter and actors. Though Helen herself is rather stiffly portrayed, Brad Pitt, despite complaints by some, gives us a very convincing and human Achilles. He does seem a little wooden at times though, particularly when confronting Peter O'Toole's Priam. That scene was the powerful denouement of the Iliad and called for more vitality from Achilles, as the man is at last awakened from his self-absorbed bronze age heroic persona, than Pitt managed to provide. But Pitt is excellent as the warrior par excellence and makes real the myth of an invincible Achilles as he practices and teaches and kills those around him.

License was taken with the story as characters are knocked off who supposedly lived through the Trojan war and much has necessarily been left out. Still, that is to be expected in a film treatment of such a huge tale and, all in all, most of it was well done. True, Orlando Bloom's Paris is a little hard to take but then so was the original character who is basically a sneak and a bit of a coward in the original. The priestess, Briseis, who is captured by Achilles and becomes the cause of his rift with his fellow Achaeans when Agamemnon claims her for his own, is nicely portrayed in this film. Her part has been enhanced here from the original in which she was little more than a prop whose possession triggers the anger of Achilles against his leader and thereby sets the entire Achaean enterprise at risk.

Eric Bana's Hector seemed wooden and a bit too much of a goody-two-shoes to have been the great champion of Troy he is supposed to have been and it was a little hard to imagine him standing up for long against Achilles as, of course, he ultimately must do. Of course, even in the original Iliad he doesn't really stand his ground before that fierce warrior but, rather, breaks and flees before Achilles who chases him around the walls of Troy before finally killing him with a spear thrust. Still, that is not quite how the great duel between the champions is portrayed here though it is handled well enough.

The actors, director and choreographers seem to have captured the manner in which the ancient Acheaeans might really have moved in battle, as seen in the pictures on pottery shards that have come down to us from that era. In a stylish blending of ancient acrobatics, modern martial arts and, perhaps, not a little dance, Pitt's Achilles demonstrates why he is the unchallenged master of war and individual combat for which the legends seem to remember him.

Alas, the episode of the Trojan Horse is a bit of a letdown and seems almost an afterthought in the narrative. It's particularly disappointing when the Trojans foolishly disregard the obvious (to us) threat the wooden statue poses and heedlessly drag it into their city, giving the Greeks the opening they've long sought. But then I don't suppose there was any better way to present this. How do you create suspense when something like this is so much a part of our historical background?

This tale is dramatically tighter than its literary antecedent but, in the end, it does not quite rise to the power of its predecessor. Still, it's finely done despite that and worth seeing.

author of The King of Vinland's Saga

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More Troy reviews
review by . September 06, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Onslaught of action, sheer scope     Cons: Extremely stupid. Doesn't require the attention span of a typical epic     The Bottom Line: Were the 2004 Trojans the best team ever?     Troy, when it was released, proved to be Orlando Bloom’s latest step in what is apparently becoming an inexplicable – not to mention completely doomed – quest to become the next Charlton Heston. Take a quick glance at his movie resume …
review by . February 27, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
If you liked the recent King Arthur or the Lord of the Rings movies, you should like this one. Everything about it was excellent from the cinematography, to the acting, with excellent action. The battle between Hector and Achilles is epic. Peter O'Toole is excellent, in probably his best role in years.     The makers took great liberties changing the story around from the myth with great success. Having known about the Trojan horse and how everything was going to work out in …
review by . May 29, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Spectacular battle scene, Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Achilles.      Cons: Omission of Greek gods directly effecting events detracts from the story.     The Bottom Line: Troy the movie is spectacular. And while the story does not remain true to what Homer penned some 3,000 years ago, it does offer plenty of engaging, old-fashioned action.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Like most children …
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Stuart W. Mirsky ()
Ranked #303
I'm a retired bureaucrat (having served, most recently, as an Assistant Commissioner in amunicipal agency in a major Northeastern American city). In 2002 I took an early retirement to pursue a lifelong … more
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There are many reasons to recommendTroyas a good ol' fashioned Hollywood epic, especially if you've never read Homer'sThe Iliad. Dispensing with Greek gods altogether, this earnestly massive production (budgeted at upwards of $200 million) will surely offend historians and devoted students of the classics (for them, there's theHistory Channel's Troy). But there's politics aplenty in the grand-scale war that erupts when Trojan prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) makes off with Helen (blandly beautiful German model Diane Kruger), wife of Spartan ruler Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), whose brother, the Greek king Agamemnon (Brian Cox) prods him into enraged retaliation. Greek warrior Achilles (Brad Pitt) brings lethal force to his battles (and there are many of them, mostly impressive), and his Trojan counterpart, Paris's brother Hector (Eric Bana), adds even more buffed-up beefcake to a film so chock-full o' hunks that there's barely room for Peter O'Toole (doing fine work as Trojan king Priam) and even less for Julie Christie, appearing ever-so-briefly as Achilles's melancholy mother. The drama is nearly as arid as the sun-baked locations (Mexico and Malta) that stand in for the Aegean coast, and many critics suggested that Pitt (who valiantly tries to give Achilles some tormented dimension) was simply miscast. But when you consider that Wolfgang Petersen also madeThe Perfect Storm, there's nothing wrong with enjoyingTroyas a semi-guilty ...
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Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Genre: Action, Adventure, Foreign, War
DVD Release Date: January 4, 2005
Runtime: 163 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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