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Troy (DVD, 2009, WS)
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The Anger of Achilles: Troy
May 14, 2004 (Updated Jul 16, 2004)
Review by George Chabot
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Story, Direction, Acting, Photography, Score
Cons:Doesn't follow the book exactly. Is that a con?
The Bottom Line: A well done adaptation of a very complex story. See Troy!
"War is where old men do the talking and young men do the dying." Odysseus
Recommend this product?
I watched Troy at its opening today at the AMC Stonecrest 16 in Lithonia, Georgia. As some of my long-time readers are aware, I am a great fan of history and classical literature and I eagerly awaited the release of this epic, based on The Trojan War as handed down by Homer and later amplified by Virgil, in his Aeneid. As a movie reviewer, I am often mystified that critics so often complain that a film departs from "the book." As an aside, judging from some of their inane comments I sometimes wonder whether said critics have ever even read the book. Be that as it may, my view on movies is "do they entertain?" In the case of Troy, I must offer a resounding "yes!"
According to The Illiad, the story concerned "the anger of Achilles" and so does the plot of Troy. The anger was kindled by King Agamemnon's (Brian Cox - Manhunter) confiscation of Achilles' prize, a lovely Trojan priestess named Briseis (Rose Byrne) captured by Achilles and his Myrmidons during the seige of Troy. Achilles therefore sheathed his sword and refused to fight for the pigheaded Agamemnon. The book goes on to explain that the war had been raging ten years already. The film left that little fact aside, but that is what I consider artistic license in boiling a very complex saga down to a usable screenplay.
Brad Pitt (Se7en, True Romance) played the arrogant, dour, and deadly Achilles the greatest warrior of his day, perhaps of all time, exactly as Homer scripted him - a man of few words who let his sword do the talking for him. Pitt played the saturnine hero, obsessed with glory and his own early death - predicted by his mother - exactly as I've always imagined him. Critics who think Pitt's performance not up to snuff really don't know their Achilles.
The greatest warrior for the Trojans is, of course, Hector. played by Eric Bana (Black Hawk Down) - a son of King Priam (Peter O'Toole - Lawrence of Arabia, Becket, The Lion in Winter) and older brother of the author of all this misfortune, Paris (Orlando Bloom - Lord of the Rings). Hector is no match for Achilles, but he is no coward and he eagerly searches for his arch foe throughout the several main battle scenes. When he thinks he found him, he offers individual combat as heroes did in those days. To his surprise, he slays the terrible Achilles, but when he removes the helmet he sees that it is Achilles' cousin Patroclus (Garret Hedlund). When Achilles is apprised of the death of Patroclus he dons his armor and seeks revenge on Hector. An epic hand to hand fight ends in Achilles victory and as a mark of disrespect he drags the body of the fallen Trojan hero behind his chariot.
The rest of the story plays out as told in The Aeneid after King Priam obtains Hector's body and performs the funeral rites, the Greeks abandon the seige and leave a gigantic wooden horse as an offering to their gods. The foolish Trojans bring the horse within their impenetrable walls and the Greeks hidden within open the gates for the returned Greek army and Troy is sacked. Achilles is killed, as foretold - he could have long years and obscurity or short life and glory - by a poisoned arrow in his one weakness, his heel.
The direction is by Wolfgang Peterson (Das Boot, In the Line of Fire) and is along the lines of Ridley Scott's work in Gladiator or Black Hawk Down. The screenplay by David Benioff makes a pretty good effort of streamlining the complicated multiple story lines of the Iliad down to movie length. The music by James Horner is reminiscent of the martial music heard in modern war films like Gladiator or Black Hawk down.
Acting is quite good overall with the major characters Agamemnon (Brian Cox), Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), and Priam (Peter O'Toole) chewing the scenery with relish. Eric Bana (Hector), Brad Pitt (Achilles), Sean Bean (Odysseus), Orlando Bloom (Paris), and Diane Kruger (Helen) offer more restrained but still good performances. The cast of thousands, CGI, sets and costuming are all epic in scale. For a person who enjoys historical action films, I think Troy will be just what the doctor ordered.
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