on 19 November 2005
Troy, like a lot of historical movies with many action sequences, rewards a second viewing. We all know Wolfgang Petersen, like many movie-makers before him, took many liberties with Homer's Iliad but I am happy for myths like this to succumb to the hollywood treatment.
Interestingly, Petersen opts to give us the siege of Troy through Achilles' eyes rather than the classical Helen/Paris scenario, as it opens up the prospects for this big action movie. Achilles was the Rambo of the ancient world, but while Rambo goes on for ever, Achilles, alas, proved to be just mortal in the end. If you view Achilles in that light, you feel less inclined to criticise Pitt for his performance. He was a fighting machine who disliked the squabbling Greeks as much as he did the Trojans, but in the end he had to settle for the lesser of two evils in deciding where his loyalties lay. The pace of the movie, which sustains two romances, gives Pitt little opportunity to do much else other than fight, whilst Eric Bana as Hector at least has more to philosophise over in the shape of his brother Paris' problems, as well as defending Troy itself.
Petersen cleverly presents the opulence and decadence of Troy as opposed to the spartan Greeks and their ambitious plans to topple it. Helen of Troy was no more than a pawn, an excuse to invade Troy, and though Bloom works hard as the cowardly womaniser Paris, he comes over as the spoilt useless younger brother of the more commanding Hector. Diane Kruger, too, has little to do except look gorgeous, and fails to grasp that the invasion is only superficially about herself.
The beautiful photography and endless beauty of the calm Mediterranean contrasts sharply with the terrible unfolding violence, and we are treated to endless shots of the body beautiful, Mr Pitt himself who disrobes more regularly than the ladies. Not that I'm complaining!
The finale, when the invaders leave the safety of the Trojan horse and the city falls, is magnificently filmed, and one is left wondering: even if this never happened, it surely is one of the most entertaining stories ever told. It might not be perfect, perhaps the characters could have been fleshed out a little more, but one can't sit in a movie all day long, and in the end film-makers have to learn the art of compression probably more than any other media.
on 25 March 2008
Troy (Director's Cut) is so much better than the theatrical version that it is almost hard to believe that they are in essence the same movie. That is not to say that this new version is perfect, it isn't. As with the Theatrical version, the acting is in some instances passable at best and it takes quite a few liberties with the accepted version of events according to Homer. However, what it does do is make the film run far more smoothly than it did before. Considering over 30 minutes of footage has been restored it actually seems to make the film a lot tighter than it was before. The rather disjointed, lacking in focus theatrical version is now replaced with a movie that always keeps you engrossed. Not just in the battle scenes which are really quite brilliant but also in the political intrigues and infighting amongst both the Greeks and the Trojans. Brad Pitt always seems to divide people as to his worth as an actor. I happen to think he is actually quite good. In Troy he is the leading man and he does a good job of holding the film together. According to Homer, Achilles was the most beautiful and the deadliest warrior of his age. Pitt is undoubtedly in excellent physical condition but he also manages to convey Achilles coldness and mastery of arms. His Achilles is a killing machine who cares for almost nothing but his own personal glory. He knows what his alternative futures are before he sails to Troy, but he would rather die young covered in glory than live to be old surrounded by love. There is a vacant look in Achilles eyes almost as though he is aware of everything that is happening around him but doesn't really care as long as it does not seem to personally affect him. However, in war, every action has a knock on effect and Achilles discovers this to his own personal loss. Achilles is not an easy role to take on, but Pitt does it well and he makes Troy a better film because of it.
On a side note, why do film companies continue to keep on ripping off the average punter who buys DVD's. If you are a film fan you are always going to want to see exactly what the director wanted to show in the first place. I can accept that for the theatre sometimes you have to trim the film down a little to make it a more palatable running time for people to be prepared to go and see or in some cases to cut down on some of the director's wilder excesses. But surely when they release the DVD they could make both the theatrical and the director's version available at the same time or on the same package. After all it's not like the footage isn't already available. Too many times I have come across extended additions and director's cuts, mere months after they have released the theatrical version. I know it's too much to hope for that they will stop ripping us off, but I would just like them to know that it's pretty poor show from them.
As a teacher of Classical Greek and Roman Mythology I was looking forward to "Troy." In the past I have put together a unit on the Trojan War that included not only Homer's epic poem the "Iliad," but also the plays of Euripides and Aeschylus and other ancient works on the stories of these characters. In other words I am familiar with this story to the extent that when Briseis showed up wearing a garment with long sleeves I was upset that we did not get to see the lovely arms that were part of her usual epithet. So, suffice it to say, that when characters who survived the Trojan War started dying in this film, I was not exactly happy. Consequently, the truth is that the less you know about the Trojan War of classical mythology, the more you will enjoy Wolfgang Petersen's "Troy."
I have no problem with the idea that Homer and the other ancients have to be adapted in making a modern motion picture about the Trojan War. The decision to eliminate the gods is appropriate, getting away from the idea that this was a ten year war makes sense, and if the alliance of the Greeks is now political rather than as part of an oath sworn by the princes who were suitors for Helen's hand, I consider that to be legitimate. I do not understand why Iphigenia, Cassandra, and Hecuba are all eliminated but there are not fatal omissions. But when you start rewriting who gets killed that is going a bit too far, especially when one premature death starts a chain effect that means Athens will never develop the jury system, which means we probably lose out on it too. David Benioff's screenplay was "inspired" by Homer's "Iliad," which at least is an honest way to characterize what he did in this script, but I still do not have to like it or endorse it.
The big selling point for this film was not Homer but rather Brad Pitt as Achilles. Stories abound about how Pitt worked six months to get in shape for this film, gave up smoking, and ended up hurting his Achilles tendon in one of those profound ironies that indicates that maybe the gods were not pleased with what was happening in this film. Pitt certainly looks good, not just in terms of taking several opportunities to display the line of his nude body, but in how he carries himself as Achilles. The whole idea is that this guy is the greatest warrior on the face of the planet and Pitt exudes that with the way he strides across the sands of Troy. Even more impressive is the choreography for the fights, because Pitt's movements are so smooth and powerful, especially compared with that of Eric Bana's Hector, that you do not doubt that this guy is in a league by himself as a warrior. I also like the way he uses the distinctive form of his shield when fighting. They thought this part out quite a bit.
The fight choreography was worked out by Simon Crane, the film's stunt coordinator and second unit director, who describes Achilles as fighting with a boxing style but with the velocity of a speed skater and the agility of a panther. They also come up with a nice touch in that Achilles looks slightly to the side at his opponent until he is ready to come in for the kill. The best fight sequences of "Troy" are when Achilles is fighting. The giant battle sequences of computerized soldiers are not as impressive, mainly because the camera is always in motion and the cutting is so fast that we are left with an impression of the battle rather than always being able to tell what is going on (which has become my constant complaint with most movies with large battle sequences).
Bana does a good job of capturing Hector's nobility without turning him into a marble statue, while Peter O'Toole fills the role of Priam naturally. On the Trojan side the problematic character is Paris (Orlando Bloom), again because of the writing more than the performance. Priam has negotiated peace between Troy and the Sparta of King Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), but that is destroyed when Paris persuades Helen (Diane Kruger) to run away with him. Both Hector and Priam know that Paris is wrong and their reasons for supporting him and thereby dooming Troy ring hollow (the less than stellar "Helen of Troy" television miniseries did a nice job of providing a solid motivation for the Trojans to protect Helen).
It you want to draw a clear distinction between Homer's story of Achilles and that of Benioff it is that the former is about the rage of Achilles (see the first line of the "Iliad") and the latter adds an equally strong love element. The one character whose role is most inflated in this version is that of Briseis (Rose Byrne), the Trojan slave girl who comes between Achilles and Agamemnon (Brian Cox), the king of kings for the Greeks. This change becomes the reasoning behind how the film rewrites the end game of the Trojan War, although I still do not understand why some of the key characters get to live happily ever after. But since Pitt's performance dominates the film and he is clearly the horse that director Wolfgang Petersen is riding to make the whole thing work, it makes sense that he has to be around until the very end.
The good news is that when I teach mythology after this DVD comes out my students will probably enjoy attacking Benioff's changes in the original stories of Greek mythology in their papers. I think this will definitely help them understand why the writings of Homer and the other ancients are considered classics.
The new director's cut of Troy might at over 3 hours be rather long to have been sitting in a cinema, but for home theatre, this is now finally the movie punters wished it could be when it first came out. The extra scenes - a mixture of character moments and action scenes, truly change it from a bit of a muddle, to something approaching classic status.
The battle scenes add little, but the character scenes change and explain the dynamics of the characters, in particular Sean Bean's Odysseus, and the tension between King Agamemnon and Achilles.
There is still a problem with the casting... no-one really looks that comfortable in their roles, neither Eric Bana, Brad Pitt and certainly not Orlando Bloom. Only Peter O'Toole really fits the part, at least as much of a part as he is given. Diane Kruger looks pretty, but whether it is the script, or her acting, it is difficult to say - but she never quite seems worth putting a thousand ships to sea for.
That aside, the battle scenes are visceral, and if this movie added anything new, it was the mano-a-mano battles with Achilles, which are terrifically well choreographed to make you really believe in his invincibility.
Extras are prolific - I gave up before I managed to exhaust all the topics, which are conveniently arranged in segments a few minutes long, so you can either watch all together or search for just the parts which interest.
A worthy package which goes some way to restoring the reputation of this previously maligned movie.
on 7 June 2009
If like myself, you avidly read reviews before buying any blu-ray disc, you will want to know about the quality of the blu-ray transfer. With regards to this particular blu-ray, I must say 'Troy' was superb. I would recommend this blu-ray to anyone who wants to experience the very best in high definition picture quality.
on 12 February 2010
Having watched the DVD of Troy, I though it was distinctly average and nowhere near the Gladiator's or Braveheart's of this world, but I must say this Blu Ray Directors cut is definitely an improvement. The extended scenes fit in fine and actually make for a more gruesome, grown-up version of the film. The picture is stunning and is perfect for the sun-drenched, sandy scenes showing off a beautiful blue sky throughout. Even during the night time scenes toward the end, the picture is crisp and the fire crackles away perfectly unlike a lot of the CG fire that directors seem to use these days (seriously, how expensive is fire?)
Of course the actors are all a bit too beautiful but this directors cut really does help to make the characters seem a lot more likeable and real - especially Eric Bana as Hector and Brad Pitt as Achilles - and the ending is much more gruesome (throwing babies anyone?)
Overall a great Blu Ray to own and well worth picking up if you can get it for a decent price.
on 30 October 2007
Although i liked the version that we saw at the cinema there was something missing.
After buying and watching this dvd it is a travesty that this was not allowed to be seen at the cinema/
The whole film has a completion to it. New scenes, more character understanding, this is a must for anyone who thought the cinema version was not quite good.
on 12 April 2016
I would have given this film 4 or 5 stars, because it is absorbing and the battle scenes are spectacular, if it wasn't for the tame relationship between Achilles and Patroclus.
A few changes, some highly significant, have been made to the story as it was told in The Iliad. Most of the changes I can accept and some make dramatic sense, such as Hector killing Menelaus, which didn't happen because Menelaus survived the Trojan War.
The omission of the Gods taking part in the battle perhaps makes sense in that it would have been difficult to avoid the film lapsing into total absurdity, and would need handling with extreme care, which I feel was well beyond the capabilities of this studio, given they couldn't even cope with a same-gender relationship!
That is my main criticism - the avoidance of a loving relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. The outcome of the battle and the ultimate fate of Troy hinged on the power and love in that relationship. The extreme grief and anger felt by Achilles at the death of Patroclus only makes emotional sense if he had lost the person he loved most in the world. It does say in The Iliad that Achilles loved Patroclus more than his own father or his own son.
There is an absurd scene where King Priam of Troy pleads for Achilles to release the body of Hector for a decent funeral. Achilles snaps back lamely:
He killed my cousin!
Wow, such emotion! If Achilles had replied tearfully He killed my beloved Patroclus, or He killed the person who I loved most in the world, this scene might have had some emotional impact. Afterwards Achilles cried outside the tent, but the moment had passed. I wasn't even sure what he was crying about, was it Priam's bravery, the terrible state of Hector's body, or the death of Patroclus?
The film maker's were so concerned there should be no suggestion of any deep love between Achilles and Patroclus that their relationship was made wooden - just like the horse! They even threw in some steamy intimate scenes between Achilles and women just to make sure we got the message that Achilles had no passionate interest in men and certainly not in Patroclus!
At least in the film Alexander, Oliver Stone made it quite clear that Alexander loved Hephaestion more than he did his own wife, even if he bottled including any intimate scenes between the two men.
Another change, no doubt made to avoid any suggestion of intimate attraction between Achilles and Patroclus was making Patroclus a lot younger and inexperienced in battle, so as to show Achilles' concern as merely paternal and protective. In the Iliad Patroclus was actually a formidable warrior who killed many Trojans and Sarpedon, King of Lycia, who was one Troy's greatest heroes - another happening that was avoided.
It's a shame that gay and bisexual heroes are still not being treated honestly in films - one day the studios and the audiences will be grown up enough to cope with historical characters, mythical or otherwise, being shown as they really were and not in a way that is deemed presentable or acceptable to the public.
The 'DIRECTOR'S' cut, has 30 minutes of additional footage to enjoy in this extravagant spectacle in which the
battle sequences are among the best ever screened, the director's cut that little more graphic than the theatrical
It tells the legendary tale of 'Paris's (Orlando Bloom) passion for 'Helen' (Diane Kruger) wife of 'Greek King' of
'Sparta' 'Menelaus' (Brendan Gleeson) risking all to take her from 'Sparta' back to 'Troy'
'Menelaus' shamed by this act turns to his power seeking brother 'Agamemnon' (Brian Cox) for help and to join
him in a war against the walls of 'Troy'
'Helen' is accepted by 'Priam' (Peter O'Toole) father of 'Paris' and 'Hector' (Eric Bana) as an adopted princess of
'Agamemnon' needs the legend-seeking 'Achilles' (Brad Pitt) a warrior looked upon as a hero and inspiration by his
soldiers, he asks 'Odysseus' (Sean Bean) to persuade the man who fights for glory and not for King or Country.
The fleet of 'Agamemnon' numbers 1000 ships carrying 50,000 battle hardened warriors, they hugely outnumber the
Trogan-Army led by 'Hector'
The soldiers of Troy have the advantage of the high walls, while 'Hector' leads them they are a formidable opposition
for the Greek Hordes.
The film an epic of modern day cinema filmed with the benefits of the high-tech effects available to this 2004 movie.
The additional 30 minutes added by this version considerably enhances the viewing pleasure.
Homer's -Troy Illiad - Stuff of Myth and Legend was seen as an extravagant and mythical story until a 19th century
explorer/archaeologist found the site.....
Many great performances afforded by the cast of the film, though in truth, 'Brad Pitt' does steal the limelight from the
Truly a superb spectacle, well worth a re-visit or indeed a first viewing.......picture and sound quality superb throughout.
Special Features -
Troy Revisited - an introduction by director Wolfgang Petersen' (in high definition) - Troy in focus - The talent and
resources in the thick of battle - The film's thrilling action sequences - From ruins to reality - The history behind the
production design - Troy : an effects Odyssey - The secrets behind the miraculous special-effects - Attacking Troy -
Gearing up for an on-screen-siege - Greek Ship towing - Theatrical trailer
ITEM REVIEWED IS THE 'DIRECTOR'S - CUT' BLU-RAY VERSION
I watched the original theatrical version and felt the film wasn't as bad as some critics had portrayed it, but the pacing was off and character development wasn't great you never really got to know the main cast as much as you would want to and some parts felt too slow with others being a bit "hasty and rushed" with some of the battle scenes not as full or beefed up as I had expected from a film touting itself as a modern "epic"
The re-cut version includes approx. 30 minutes of additional screen time (we're up to nearly 200 mins run time in total), there are extended battle scenes and the biggest change is in the taking of Troy which was glossed over fairly quickly on the first cut here we get a lot more action and depth. There are some additional bits including more on the Greek army attacks v the Trojans which does help lift the tension a bit more and importantly some characters get more footage helping development.
As for the film overall it does benefit from the re-working and visually it's still fairly impressive. My feelings about the cast are similar though I'm not entirely convinced with Pitt in the lead role he can act but at times seems a little vacant in such a headline role, Bana and Kruger are good though as is Sean Bean in his Odysseus character if a little predictable and overplayed but that's more down to the script than the actors.
Modern epics are not easy to do, I think film making has moved on in this regard and we've yet to really have a jaw dropping vast scale recent production that just nails everything down from storyline, script, cast, direction, action secnes. On balance though it's a more satisfying watch than the awful mess Alexander remains (even after extensive re-editing and cutting) at least the screenplay is moderately engaging and you will have some interest in the story.
Worth a peek even if you've seen the first run this does add more to the film even if it can't quite lift it to where I'd like it to be.