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Troy (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition) (2004)

A movie directed by Wolfgang Petersen

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Final Analysis: It’s Entertainment not a Documentary

  • May 29, 2004
Rating:
+1
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 I heard bits and pieces of the story of Troy; of Helen whose beauty launched a thousand ships; of Achilles and his unprotected heal; of Hector Prince and hero of Troy…But also like most I am not fully conversant in the real tale as laid out in Homer’s The Iliad. This despite the fact that I have the tome and its companion The Odyssey resting peacefully in my personal library.

It is speculated that Troy, which lay on the west coast of Turkey, was an actual city; I have even visited the site of the supposed ruins. So when I first heard that story of the razing of Troy was coming the silver screen, I marked it on calendar.

The Plot

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot – 1982, Enemy Mine – 1985, In The Line of Fire – 1993, Air Force One – 1997, The Perfect Storm – 2000), this rendition of the face that launched a thousand ships, opens with the Greek King Agamemnon (Brian Cox, Rob Roy – 1995, Affair of the Necklace – 2001, The Ring – 2002) putting the finishing touches on his burgeoning expansive empire, with the more then able assistance of the valiant warrior who cannot die, Achilles (Brad Pitt, A River Runs Through It – 1992, Legends of the Fall – 1994, Fight Club – 1999, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas – 2003).

However, Achilles holds no love or allegiance to the George W. Bush like Agamemnon, or any king for that matter, he fights only for the glory and the promise—and hope—that he will be remembered as the greatest warrior of all time. But Achilles is deeper then just a mere warrior, he thinks, he pontificates, he agonizes over the death and havoc he causes at another’s behest. Agamemnon bristles at Achilles' continued and open disrespect, but soon has other battles to fight. Agamemnon's brother, Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson, Braveheart - 1995, Mission Impossible 2 – 2000, Gangs of New York – 2002, Cold Mountain – 2003), King of Sparta, has had his considerable pride wounded when his beautiful wife, Helen (Diane Kruger, Wicker Park – 2004), swayed by the love of the Trojan prince, Paris (Orlando Bloom, Blackhawk Down – 2001, The Lord of the Ring I, II, & III – 2001-2003) is stolen away to the great city of Troy across the Aegean Sea. Trouble is Sparta and Troy have just joined in an alliance of peace and cooperation.

The scandalous and dishonorable act creates a disastrous chain reaction—loosing the cuckolded Menelaus' need for retribution, Agamemnon's insatiable desire to take Troy as his own, and Achilles' pursuit of the ultimate glory. But Troy 's impassable walls are ferociously protected by the legendary Trojan warriors, led by the powerful and honorable Prince Hector (Eric Bana Blackhawk Down – 2001, The Hulk -2003). As the battle is joined on shores of Troy, Briseis (Rose Byrne, Star Wars: Episode II – 2002, Wicker Park – 2004), cousin to Hector and Paris, and nice of Priam (Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia – 1962, Man of La Mancha – 1972, Masada – 1984, Joan of Arc – 1999), King of Troy, is captured by the Greeks and becomes a pawn in the game of wills between Agamemnon and Achilles, eventually falling in love with the later, and he with her.

My Impressions

I have heard from several quarters that Warner Brothers theatric release of Troy does no justice the famed poem by Homer. And after doing some research, including reading at least some passages from the The Iliad, I have found that the movie takes considerable artistic license with Homer’s epic poem. Depending on your perspective, and whether or not you have read The Iliad one can conclude that in making the movie, certain decisions were made that had dramatic and distressing consequences on the overall story.

For instance, the gods and goddesses of Greek Mythology who played a central role in the conflict between Greece and Troy were banished from the battlefield. Although their names are invoked—quite often I might add—their sway was not felt on the lives of Greeks and Trojans. This is a major departure from the Homer storyline. Without the guiding hand of Apollo, God of Prophecy, upon the arm of Paris, Achilles should have survived and might well have lived long enough to spring from the Trojan Horse, and win the day for Greece; without the hand of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty, Paris should have died, smote by the hand of Menelaus.

One could speculate that it was only because of the intervention of the Greek Gods that the Trojan War lasted ten years in The Iliad rather then the two weeks of Warner Brothers/Wolfgang Petersen’s godless rendition. I suppose for the sake of theatrical expediency and enjoyment I can get overlook the time differences, the presence of Achilles in the Trojan Horse, and the killing by Hector of Menelaus and Ajax, but the omission of the gods from the telling fundamentally alters the story for the worse. It removes the mystical aspect that makes The Iliad a tome that most consider one of the definitive works on man.

But hey, Hollywood is in the business of entertainment, not documentaries, for those I tune into PBS. As a marker for entertainment, Troy delivers. The battle scenes are epic without a hint of CGI in the mix to disturb the human drama unfolding on the screen. But be forewarned, this movie is violent, and how could it not be given the realistic depiction of battle some 3200 years ago when armies came together and slugged it out toe-to-toe, spear-to-spear, sword to bloody sword.

Many critics found fault with Brad Pitt’s performance, but heaped solid praise on Eric Bana. I found no fault with Pitt’s performance; he played the part of Achilles with intensity and deft skill. Homer’s Achilles was fiercely independent, fearless, arrogant, cocky, self-assured, but with a touch of humility and dare I say compassion born of honor. Pitt’s performance mirrored that personification and his dance-like fighting methods, impulsiveness, defiance of Agamemnon, and love of Briseis all seem in line with the Achilles Homer penned.

In the final analysis, Troy the movie is spectacular as told by Hollywood. And while the story does not remain true to what Homer penned some 3,000 years ago, much less as it really happened, it does offer plenty of engaging, old-fashioned action, buttressed with skillful acting, and skillfully interleaved special effects.


Recommended:
Yes

Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More Troy reviews
review by . April 30, 2009
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 . December 13, 2008
In recent times, Hollywood has sparked a renewed interest in the great epics of ancient Greece.  May 14th of 2004 brought the release of Troy starring Brad Pitt.  Before this, there were countless miniseries, movies, and TV shows, both accurately and inaccurately, depicting the mythological life of Homer's great epic heroes.  Included among these was a wonderful NBC mini-series called The Odyssey, which, in fact, covered both of the poems of Homer to some extent.  There is a …
review by . November 17, 2008
If "Camelot" is the romanticized version of "King Arthur", then "The Iliad" went through an extreme makeover for "Troy".     There are enough pretty faces to launch several thousand ships, and I'm not even talking about Helen here. The main attractions are ripped biceps, chiseled chins, sculpted chests and smooth, bronzed legs.     This is another arrow-full movie, with lots of big battle scenes and gritty hand-to-hand combat, but be warned that an entire …
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 . February 01, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #188
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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Wiki

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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Details

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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