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‘Troy’ Falls Dead

Peterson Condenses Ancient Mythology into a Long Feature Film

By Kevin Der


Screenplay by David Benioff

Directed by Wolfgang Peterson

Starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom

Rated R

Opens May 14

I saw this movie because I love mythology and I was interested in the special effects. I didn’t realize I would have to look at the unclothed bodies of Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, or Orlando Bloom in virtually every frame of the movie. Why Wolfgang Peterson did this is a mystery to me, especially since the swarms of thirteen-year-old girls who want to watch that will have to sneak in to do so. That makes me laugh. It’s very ironic.

Indeed, the abundance of male nudity, whether it be in a sex scene or a battle scene -- the two categories of scenes in this film -- in relation to the lack of female nudity (we’re talking about Helen of Troy here) is disturbing. What is not quite as disturbing, but much funnier, is watching Orlando Bloom trying to deliver a serious line away from the tutelage of Peter Jackson. The entire theater cracked up every time he opened his mouth.

I won’t bash the screenplay because I realize how difficult it must have been to translate The Iliad (and parts of The Odyssey) into a two hour and forty-five minute script. Parts of the story were omitted or redone, but the skeletal structure is there. Paris (Orlando Bloom), a prince of Troy who happens to be a cowardly weasel, steals Helen from Menalaus, king of Sparta, a Greek state which had been at war with Troy in the past. As a result, Menelaus grabs his power-hungry brother Agamemnon along with all the soldiers in Greece, and they sail to Troy to get Helen back. With them is Achilles (Brad Pitt), the most deadly Greek warrior, who is arrogant, has no loyalties to anyone, and boasts an impressive leap attack. His nemesis is Hector (Eric Bana), brother to Paris and the most skilled Trojan fighter. No major gods or goddesses makes an appearance in this movie, which makes sense from a screenwriter’s point of view since there are far too many characters from mythology to include and still have any kind of character development.

Unlike Hector and Paris, who remain honorable and despicable respectively, Achilles does actually change throughout this film, a transformation which apparently occurs over the span of several days rather than nine or ten years. His two most significant moments from the literature in my mind were both included in the movie, to my shock and approval. The first is Achilles’ sea-goddess mother telling him that he will either fight in the war and gain immortal glory but die, or live a long and peaceful life and be forgotten. The second moment is when Priam (Peter O’Toole) visits Achilles in the Greek camp to beg for a proper burial for his son Hector.

In general, I enjoyed the battle scenes from Troy more than those from similar epics, particularly Gladiator. The climactic Achilles-Hector fight is laudable. These smaller, non-computer graphics fights were a lot more convincing than shots with tens of thousands of soldiers. When they rush each other, it just looks like two blobs mixing. I don’t know whether these scenes were made with Massive (animation software used in “Return of the King” to generate realistic scenes involving huge crowds of people) but it didn’t look very good.

I don’t think much more needs to be said about this movie. Either you’ll like the battles or you won’t. Either you’ll go to see male actors’ bodies or you won’t. They drop in a bunch of heroes’ names just for people who are listening for them, but it would probably be more satisfying to play a Starcraft use-map-settings game. For those of you who end up being disappointed and think it’s Wolfgang Peterson’s fault, just realize that in May 2006, his vision of “Ender’s Game” will hit theaters, and Orson Scott Card actually collaborated on the screenplay. Think about that and it’ll be okay.