Web Edition

lead stories
other news
photo gallery




chess forum
town talk


press releases


last week's issue

real estate
classified ads


For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

photo caption:
TREACHERY IN TROY: The Trojans's excitedly celebrate the arrival of the gift offering presented by their supposedly departing Greek foes.
end caption.


Homer's Iliad Gets Hollywood Treatment in "Troy"

Review by Kam Williams

The Iliad is an epic tale of martial conquest which was composed by the Greek poet Homer somewhere between 900 and 800 B.C. His account of the Trojan War covered critical events that unfolded during the pivotal closing days of the 10-year conflict. This ageless epic poem about pride, honor, wrath, grief, and the pursuit of power has literally hundreds of characters, however, its central focus is the stormy relationship between Achilles and the Greek King Agamemnon, whose arrogance has alienated his greatest warrior.

As one might expect, it is a considerable task to adapt any epic piece of literature to the movie format. In the case of The Iliad, this challenge was undertaken by Wolfgang Peterson (Das Boot). The German director has fashioned a sufficiently faithful condensation of the original so that its spirit, if not its plotline, remains recognizable. Peterson's earlier movie, The Perfect Storm, was well-received and made $200 million at the box office.

Brad Pitt's uncharismatic portrayal of protagonist Achilles is decidedly two-dimensional. He fails to engage the emotions of his viewers, dividing his screen time between preening and pouting like a runway model, and behaving like an impersonal killing machine. Veteran character actor Brian Cox co-stars as Agamemnon; among the other principals are Peter O'Toole as Priam, King of Troy; Eric Bana as his son, Trojan prince Hector; Orlando Bloom as Hector's brother, Paris; Diane Kruger as Helen; Brendan Gleeson as Helen's cuckolded husband, Menelaus; and Julie Christie as Thetis, Achilles mother.

All the cast members, even Mr. Pitt, adopt the obligatory British accent, sans contractions, employed by the historical drama genre, even though the action takes place in ancient Greece. As the movie opens the fragile peace between the long-warring armies of Sparta and Troy is broken when Priam secretly seduces and steals Helen away from Menelaus.

With war once again on the horizon, Achilles is aroused from the aftermath of a tryst. He grudgingly agrees to fight again for the ungrateful, greedy Agamemnon and joins the army already at the front.

The plot unfolds with characters and events conflated or eliminated entirely, the confusing net result bears little resemblance to what we read in high school. Though the storyline has been revised and simplified, Homer's underlying message about the importance of honor and loyalty have been retained, as has the famous scene with the wooden horse.

Computer-generated imagery is combined with panoramic cinematography shot on locations in Mexico, Malta, Morocco and the U.K. Troy's production scale evokes comparisons with Cecil B. DeMille. The movie is replete with mob scenes, horse-drawn chariots, laurel wreaths, togas, leather skirts, anachronistic dialogue ("We need to talk."), pro wrestling-style fights, sacking, pillaging, and hand-to-hand savagery.

Good (2 stars). Rated R for sex, nudity, expletives, and graphic violence.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


Website Design by Kiyomi Camp