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The Trojan Women
The Trojan Women
Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, Geneviève Bujold, Irene Papas, Patrick Magee
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2004     1hr 45min

Hecuba & the other women of troy rise to find their city in ruin & their cause lost. The city has fallen into greek hands & its likely their lot to become slaves of greek soldiers. A messenger approaches to inform them tha...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, Geneviève Bujold, Irene Papas, Patrick Magee
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Kino Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 09/14/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 45min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

An emotionally distant version of Euripides's "Trojan Women"
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 04/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

""The Trojan War" was written by the Greek tragic dramatist Euripides as a plea for peace after the Athenians had slaughtered the populace of the island of Melos for refusing to aid Athens in the war against Sparta, and as preparations were being made for the ruinous expedition against Syracuse. Consequently there is a strong rhetorical dimension to the play, which prophesies that a Greek force would sail across the sea after violating victims and meet with disaster. However, there the play also has a strong literary consideration in that the four Trojan Women all appear in the final chapter of the "Iliad," mourning over the corpse of Hector, retrieved by his father Priam from the camp of the Acheans. Following the episodic structure of Greek tragedy, we begin with the lamentations of Hecuba (Katharine Hepburn), queen of the fallen city, then have the wild prophecies of her crazed daughter Cassandra (Geneviève Bujold), and then have to watch Astyanax, the son of Hector and Andromache (Vanessa Redgrave), be ripped away from her mother's arms so he can be thrown from the walls of Troy. When the beautiful Helen (Irene Papas) is brought out, Hecuba tries to convince Menelaus (Patrick Magee) to kill his unfaithful wife. The tragedy ends with the women of Troy being taken to the ships of their captives. This 1971 film was directed by Michael Cacoyannis, who is best known for directing "Zorba the Greek," but who also did an excellent version of another Euripides play "Electra" in 1962 with Irene Papas in the title role. Cacoyannis tries for something a bit more naturalistic than that previous effort, but the end result this time around creates an unfortunate distance between the characters and the audience that puts these performances in a weird sort of limbo. This is rather surprising because we are talking some formidable talent with these four actresses (who represent four different countries of origin). I first saw this film in high school, when I had absolutely no understanding of the forms and conventions of classical Greek tragedy, and I found I have less appreciation for the film today. Understand that I am a Katharine Hepburn fan of the first order and teach Greek tragedies at any and all opportunities, but I am just not inspired by this film. Hepburn's performance is overly animated, Bujold's is mannered affectation, Redgrave's is understated at the expense of the situation, and only Papas manages to bring some fire to her role that rings true. "The Trojan Women" reflects the cynicism of Euripides at its most strident. In this play the Greeks do more than enslave the women of fallen Troy: they have already slain a young girl as a sacrifice to the ghost of Achilles and they take a little boy and kill him. Even the herald of the Greeks, Talthybius (Brian Blessed), cannot stomach the policies of his people. The play also reminds us that Helen was a most unpopular figure amongst the ancient Greeks, and there is no satisfaction in her saving her life. Your ability to enjoy this play, whether we are talking about watching the film or simply reading the text, is going to be based on how much you know about Homer's epic poem "The Iliad" and the entire story of the Trojan War. Final Note: Edith Hamilton, author of a classic book on mythology that I use in my Classical Greek and Roman Mythology course, did the English translation for the film."
"Anguish Heaped Upon Anguish"
H. F. Corbin | ATLANTA, GA USA | 11/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ancient Greek plays with all their dramatic devices and often an emphasis on static speeches by the actors and the chorus often do not translate well to the screen. Euripides' "The Trojan Women," however, is an exception to the rule. What makes this production work is the fine acting by most of the performers as well as the beautiful language, though in translation, of Euripides.

The plot is simple and straight forward. Queen Hecuba (Katharine Hepburn), her now crazed daughter Cassandra (Genevieve Bujold), her daughter-in-law Andromache (Vanessa Redgrave) and a host of other Trojan women are now at the mercy of the Greek victors. The play builds as one catastrophe after another befalls these women. Cassanda will be the wife of Agammemnon, Andromache will go with the son of Achilles, and Hecuba will become the slave of Odysseus-- or as Hecuba so aptly puts it, "Anguish heaped upon anguish."

The Greek chorus-- or in this instance I suppose we must call them the "Trojan Chorus" works well. Irene Papas plays a different sort of Helen than we see through other writers' eyes. Here she is unbowed, even as she awaits her fate from the hands of her wronged husband Menelaus. In a quite wonderful scene, after Helen has made her pitch to him to spare her life, Hecuba delivers the great lines: "Kill her, Menelaus." Ms. Hepburn has a lot of such passages. I remember from having seen the movie when it was released in 1971 her lines: "Kindness unwanted is unkindness."

The theme is obvious. Wars always hurt the women and children most-- Andromache's son almost steals the movie, by the way-- and while the weaponry and locales may change, war in 2005 is not that much different than it ever was, a sad, sobering thought."
Gets under your skin
Sister Cuthbert | Cambridge, MA | 10/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I first saw this movie in college freshman English way back in 1974, before I knew anything about feminism or Greek myths. I had no idea what was going on most of the time. But it got under my skin so effectively that the images stayed with me for nearly 30 years, and when war became an issue in the US I suddenly HAD to see it again. By now I knew more about feminism and Greek myths, but it still retains incredible power. Maybe it is stilted and showing the 1971 age, but the power of the playwright stands through it all. A true classic in the best possible sense."
A tragedy is taught
Andreas Gregoriades | Cyprus | 08/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"With this production, Cacoyannis has achieved his best ever performance and has shown his directing genius; with this film, he can be considered as one of the best directors worldwide and a unique master in transferring classic Greek Drama to the screen.

Trojan Women is one of the best dramas written by Euripides 480~406 BC and can be truly appreciated from the way Cacoyannis remain faithful to the original script(415 BC)and his ability to transfer a theater masterpiece to a film.
He simplified the scenery, he utilized pastel soft colours for the background, he limited the scenery to the bare minimum and he brought forward the characters as Euripides himself indented it.

Cacoyannis has presented the best abilities of a group of exceptional actresses such as Vanessa Redgrave, Katharine Hepburn Genevieve Bujold, Ireni Papas.

One of best ever performances of Katharine Hepburn in one of the most difficult roles, as a queen of a defeated country, a wife of a proud King, a leader of the women, a mother of heroes and a mother of a daughter with an exceptional personality, a proud mother in law and a loving grandmother, struggling to maintain sense in a senseless tragic situation.

Irene Papa has performed extremely well the provocative and proud role of Helen to the point that the viewer might easily develop sentiments of hate towards her.

Vanessa Redgrave represented the very meaning of pride, character, and determination and yet at the same time the suffering of the wife of a hero and the mother of a child that must be eliminated by those who claim victory.

One of the best performances is the one of Genevieve Bujold in the role of Cassandra, in what can be considered as a perfect interpretation in one of the most complicated and universal statements ever made in the history of mankind when in her craziness is able to question the meaning of war, the very meaning of victors and losers.
This specific part must be observed with special attention as it can be compared only with the meanings that emerged from the epitaph of Pericles and it forms the core meaning of the entire drama.

A classic script that became accessible to millions through the excellent work of Cacoyannis.

In conclusion we can return to the terminology of the Greeks that when they refer to the classic drama they do not use the word " see a tragedy " but " A tragedy is taught"