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Troy (DVD, 2009, WS)
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Troy, or the Trojan Movie.
Feb 10, 2008 (Updated Mar 28, 2011)
Review by Mark Vaughan
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Stunningly lavish visual extravaganza, Stellar cast.
Cons:Spoiled by Hollywood's lack of testicular fortitude concerning homosexuality.
The Bottom Line: With this cast, this budget, this production value, this should have been a four star movie, five, if you give points for gratuitous nudity.
Troy, 2004 by Wolfgang Peterson has a lot to recommend it. It has a few flaws, but they are big ones.
Recommend this product?
Troy is the epic story first laid out in Homer's The Iliad. Hellen, queen of Sparta, falls in love with Paris, Prince of Troy, and elopes. This precipitates a war resulting in the complete destruction of Troy.
The movie has an all-star cast; Peter O'Toole is Priam, King of Troy. Eric Bana is Hector, his son, and Paris, the younger prince is played by Orlando Bloom. All three of these performances are note worthy. Paris is a selfish little git with too much unctuous sex appeal who begins to grow up when it exactly too late. Orlando nails the performance. This is a pampered kid in way over his head.
His big brother Hector is brought to smoking hot life by Eric Bana. Mr. Bana is dead sexy, but has turned in some wooden performances in the past. Here, he does better, conveying the gentle nobility and steadfast bravery of the Trojan Prince.
Peter O'Toole is Peter O'Toole, and at his worst, he is one of the best actors alive.
On the Greek side of things clever Odysseus is played by Sean Bean, the prideful Agamemnon whose hubris precluded peaceful settlement was played by Brian Cox, who can really make you hate him on screen. And of course, Achilles, hero of the Greeks, was played by Brad Pitt.
Now, any movie with that much beefcake, and gratuitous Pitt nudity has my full attention. I just wish Achilles had had a better take. Pitt's performance (and tush) were masterful, but he played Achilles as an angry, emotionally distant killing machine. Only after his talk with Priam do we see a human side to the man...you half expect him to start wearing a necklace of the ears of his victims. However, I do not doubt it was Peterson's direction that was responsible for this...version.
The production values were off the chart; the scenes of the armies, thousands of brave soldiers in armour, stretching as far as the eye could see, beautiful. The costuming, the sets, all evoked a world three thousand years gone. And the fight scenes were unbelievable! Alas, so were other things, and there in lies the problem.
There were a few little details that annoyed me; for instance, the practice of putting two coins on the eyes of the fallen, to pay the ferryman Charon to take them to the underworld. It was only one coin, and it was placed under the tongue. Little detail, and only a geek would care. (And yes, I know I am a geek.)
But the thing that hacked me off was the Hollywood aversion to homosexuality. Brad Pitt had some smoking hot scenes with some lovely ladies, and an affair with Priam's niece, taken hostage. It was tender and touching, and elicited the most human reactions from Achilles.
But here's the thing, in the movie, Patroclus was Achilles young cousin. In fact, Achilles was his lover, and Patroclus was the older (dominant) man in the relationship. The only place Achilles let down his guard was in Patroclus' arms, only Patroclus could reason with him.
It's not a minor oversight, its like having Helen Keller answer the telephone. Its like doing the life of Oscar Wilde and making him Casanova. There are few enough iconic gay heroes in the world, and they gave this one a beard. Its like saying Emilia Earhart was a man in drag, or that Neil Armstrong did the moon landing on a sound stage. It is like saying the holocaust never happened; it diminishes an entire group of people.
The message here is that gay people are not as good or heroic as a straight person, and that subliminal message of bigotry poisons an otherwise great movie. It works like this; what do you get when you add a spoonful of wine to a barrel of sewage? Answer; Sewage. What do you get if you add a spoonful of sewage to a barrel of wine? Answer; Sewage.
And that is the tragedy here. This movie is a Trojan horse; it looks like an epic about heroes and the price of hubris, but what it delivers is Hollywood's commercially motivated bigotry.
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