[MOVIE REVIEW]Glory and honor drive historic epicOn the surface, “Troy” is about human glory. The idea of being remembered through history echoes throughout the film. The movie itself is also a glorious vehicle, for director Wolfgang Petersen and its bevy of stars, from Brad Pitt to Orlando Bloom and Peter O’Toole. But behind glory lie bare emotions ― greed, love, brotherhood, honor, loyalty, cowardice ― which makes for a stirring film, especially when the cinematography, and the fight scenes, are as handsome as these are.
But that’s only if you consider that Petersen was inspired by Homer’s “Iliad,” but not necessarily faithful to the heroic epic. Athena’s doomed prophetess Cassandra and the gods are really nowhere to be found in Petersen’s version, except when Achilles (Pitt) converses with his mother, Thetis (Julie Christie), who looks more like a plump grandmother then a beguiling sea nymph. And the siege of 10 years takes place in what appears to be two weeks.
Then again, “Troy” never set out to be a faithful recreation in the way that the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” films did. Luckily for Petersen, Homer has been dead for quite some time now. So the director takes his poetic license, and crafts a visually stunning feast in manly, Hollywood-blockbuster style, complete with ladies in Grecian robes and buff men in short leather skirts. James Horner supplies the orchestral score, and David Benioff supplies the sometimes trite dialogue.
The movie begins with Agamemnon (Brian Cox) building the Greek empire. Meanwhile, the Trojan princes Hector (Eric Bana) and Paris (Bloom) are on a peace mission to Sparta. While enjoying Menelaus’ (Brendan Gleeson) hospitality, Paris seduces the Spartan queen, Helen (Diane Kruger), the face that would set a thousand ships to sail. He makes off with her, then asks his older brother, Hector, for protection.
Menelaus entreats his brother, Agamemnon, for help. Agamemnon, who had been longing to control the Aegean anyway, gathers his forces, and sets sail for the walled city of Troy, ruled by King Priam (O’Toole).
The movie lumbers at first, especially considering the obvious lack of attraction between Helen (who doesn’t look like someone Aphrodite would consider the most beautiful woman in the world) and Paris. And though Pitt’s six months of working out to prepare for the movie paid off, his face looks worn when it first appears on screen.
A few moments of poor acting aside, the movie thrives on the character development of Achilles and Hector, and the grace of O’Toole’s and Rose Byrne’s (who plays Briseis) performances.
Achilles is a maverick warrior for hire, born to fight and blessed with near-immortality. His counterpart is Hector, heir to the Trojan throne and held in high esteem by all. Pitt tackles his role with brooding charisma, while Bana takes on a peaceful nobility.
Both of their presences bolster the morale of their soldiers. Hector fights for love of country, and his father, the king. Achilles fights for glory and honor. On Trojan soil, he falls for Briseis, a virgin priestess and cousin to Hector and Paris, who questions the very nature of war, thus questioning Achilles’ soul.
Thus, by the times Achilles dies, even this Hollywood presentation leaves lingering questions about love and human ambition.
Action / English
by Joe Yong-hee