Brad Pitt might be Achilles but David Benioff is no Homer
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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.
"May the gods keep the wolves in the hills. . ."
D. Mikels | Skunk Holler | 05/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An ancient poem and a motion picture are two entirely different mediums, and should be judged accordingly. We as viewers (well, most of us) cut Peter Jackson some slack with his deviations from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings," and we ought to give the same consideration to Wolfgang Petersen, who brings Homer's classic to vivid, sweaty life. And not only does Petersen pull off a cinematic coup, he makes watching TROY an outright fun and thrilling experience.The film centers around two characters--and they are not Helen and Paris. A beefed-up Brad Pitt plays Achilles, a fierce Greek warrior who is literally unbeatable. Yet Achilles is anything but a nice person: he is self-centered and pretentious, and he fights on his terms, often to the detriment of his countrymen. Achilles has but one quest: to be immortalized through history, and the Greek siege of Troy provides him the perfect opportunity. For such a shallow, narcissistic character, Pitt is perfectly suited for the role.Eric Bana, on the other hand, steals the show as Hector, Prince of Troy. Hector is a good, kind, and decent man who loves his family and his country. Faced with having to clean up the mess after his brother Paris (Orlando Bloom) brings Helen of Sparta (Diane Kruger) to his beloved land, Hector leads the Trojan army against the Greek invaders; his showdown with Achilles is inevitable, and is also the film's defining moment.Yet TROY is bursting at its wooden horse seams with other memorable performances, including a frail Peter O'Toole as Trojan King Priam, and his scene-chewing counterpart Brian Cox, who plays greedy King Agamemnon. Brendan Gleeson and Sean Bean are superb, too, as Greek kings Menelaus and Odysseus, while Bloom is less than stellar as a peach-fuzzed, pusillanimitic Paris.Director Petersen delivers a grand epic complete with stunning cinematography, fierce action, imaginative special effects, and a spellbinding story. His film does not detract, but instead enhances, Homer's classic. In the words of King Menelaus of Sparta: "May the gods keep the wolves in the hills and the women in our beds." How can an epic go wrong with a line like that?
Director's cut gives additional depth and scope to an impres
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Features 2 new extras: "Troy In Focus" a 23 minute interview and a new 5 minute introduction by Wolfgang Peterson. Most of the other special features have been ported over from the previous edition.
First the most important question is whether or not this double dip is worth it? Absolutely because the additional footage only enhances the film giving it additional depth. The transfer is striking (regardless of which format)as well. In many respects this isn't a double dip because we get a film that is superior to the original version.
Unlike "The Illiad" Wolfgang Petersen's film "Troy" seemed too short and for good reason; Petersen had to trim the film down to a shorter length for its theatrical release. Luckily Warner gave Petersen the opportunity to revisit this epic film and add more meat to the bones of a film that had the look of an epic but was missing much of the emotional depth.
Petersen restores roughly 32 minutes to the film giving additional depth to the various relationships in the film. While "Troy" isn't a perfect epic, it's much improved. James Horner's score is still occasionally obtrusive but the overall impact of Petersen's film with its marvelous performances from Brian Cox (who steals almost every scene he's in), the quiet power of Eric Bana and even the gravity of Pitt as Achilles is far more effective than the previous version.
Image quality is superb for both the DVD and Blu Ray verisons of the film (the Blu Ray, of course, gets the nod because the images are much sharper, crisper with better definition but the DVD isn't too shabby either). Audio for the Blu Ray is presented lossless while the DVD's audio sounds terrific given the limitations of the format. Colors are a bit bolder here than on the previous version to my eyes.
It appears that a lot of the special features from the previous edition have been ported over and the only new things are the introduction by Petersen as well as a retrospective 23 minute interview where Petersen discusses the genesis of the original film and this project.
This film version much more closely resembles what he had in mind when he took on the project. Greek mythology purists will find some of the changes disturbing but some of the changes enhance the film pulling the strands of the story together a little tighter."
Fantastic Director's Cut
British Yank | Los Angeles, CA | 08/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am lucky enough to have seen a screening of the Director's Cut for Troy prior to this DVD's release. I haven't seen the DVD extras, so all I can address here is the movie itself. It is fanstastic - the 40 minutes of additonal material adds meat to the bones of the original. The added footage and new score gives the movie a grander scope and serious gravitas. The colors are richer. There are additional scenes that give you a better insight into the Paris and Helen relationship as well as scenes that give more depth to Odysseus and Priam. I loved it.
I was already a fan of the original, and now cannot recommend this new improved version highly enough."
Director's cut improves on the original...worth the $ 14.99
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 09/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I saw TROY in the theaters, I wasn't expecting much. After that first viewing, I knew there was something missing; the screenplay just didn't grab me, it failed to immerse me on the scenes. I am quite familiar with GREEK myths, also both Norse and Roman mythology. Well, I managed to purchase the director's cut of Troy, and although it is not as great as KINGDOM of HEAVEN Director's cut, it is a better cut of the film.
I presume that most of the folks who'll be interested in the director's cut are fans or at least the ones who saw it in theaters as I did. ONE OBVIOUS improvement this version has over the previous dvd is the PICTURE transfer. The Video this time out is more vibrant, sharper and cleaner. Another difference is the SOUNDTRACK on certain scenes; the training scene of Achilles and his cousin, the duel between Hector and Achilles. Also, the music is improved with added bass during the siege at the beach and on the gates of Troy. The music sounded more powerful.
The Director's cut has the same plotlines, characters and scenes. It does have added "meat" and do they make Troy a better cut of the film? Yes.
1: Opening scene with a dog going around the spoils of war. (Dead bodies) 2: Nudity in the scene between Paris and Helen. Their relationship is also a bit more fleshed out. Love scenes are extended, suffice it to say, the film is a bit more uninhibited when it comes to nudity. 3: Helen's husband is shown as unfaithful. It gives more motivation to Helen's actions. 4: Odysseus is developed as the humble King of Ithaca. He likes to be among the common folk. His character is also more fleshed out; the film also emphasizes how it is Achilles trusts his judgment. 5: Hector knew about Paris' affair with Helen even before they boarded the ship back to Troy. He warns him of the potential consequences. 6: Achilles' ego is more fleshed out. He has a confrontation with Agamemnon regarding the Priestess of Apollo. (Extended) 7: Extended battle sequences. More blood is shown. Heads get lopped off more often. 8: Funeral sequences are extended. It shows more emotion and emphasizes the combatants' sorrow with the lost of their comrades. 9: A dog licks off the "fake" disease after the Trojans took the wooden horse inside their city. 10: Agamemnon's obsession and arrogance is more fleshed out. 11: Extended final act sequence; last assault on the city of Troy. More blood and gore is shown. A tad more brutally graphic.
There may be more that I missed, it did contain an added 30+ minutes of footage. The film is contained in 2 discs (2 Dual layer DVDs) similar to the terrific extended cuts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Kingdom of Heaven Director's cut.
VIDEO/AUDIO: 2.35 Anamorphic widescreen. Exceptional transfer, an improvement over the previous dvd release; Near-flawless picture quality, nice colors, improved sharpness and contrast. Black levels are solid. 5.1 Dolby Digital English is very powerful. I'd had hoped that this cut would include DTS sound mix, it would have been better with DTS.
In closing: Is the director's cut worth a "double dip"? For me, for $ 14.99 2-disc edition director's cut, definitely yes! As for the other more "stylish" Ultimate Edition (includes photo book etc.)with the $ 25.99-$ 34.99 price tag, I'm not so sure. For fans of the film, or if you don't have the original release, this is a no-brainer. The lack of DTS track is a minus, but this new edition definitely has a bit more "grandeur" than the theatrical release. However, if you hated the original cut, this new director's cut will NOT change your mind! Recommended! (timidly) ( 3 ½ stars)