The main difficulty with history is that is has already happened, and our fore fathers have left it upon us to interpret and respond to it. I dare say man has always done that in his own unique way. The most interesting part of History is mythology and within mythology, the most romanticized is the Greek mythology.
Many of us who have no idea about the subject have heard about Greek mythological figures like Apollo, Atlas, and Heracles to name a few. But Wolfgang Petersen sought to add Hector, Achilles, Paris and Helen to that coveted list.
Released in summer of 2004 many would argue that “Troy” is till date the most loved and hated movie based on the myths of ancient Greece. For a layman to watch the heroes of ancient Greece do what they do best (read war), was not only an experience in itself but it also had attached to it strings of inquisitions.
The movie finds its sources from deep within the archives of Homer, the highest authority on ancient and Greece and Virgil a well known and accomplished voice on the subject. However, as often with historical films the plot of the movie is a bit offset from the history textbooks.
The cast is star-studded complete with Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom. The greatest warrior in whole of Greece and may be in the world too, Achilles, is played by Brad Pitt. The princes of Troy, Hector and Paris, are played by Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom respectively. Diane Kruger, Brain Cox and Tyler Mane have done a very good job as Helen, Agamemnon and Ajax respectively.
The movie kicks of in Thessaly were an ever aggressive Agamemnon wins another battle of the edge of Achilles’ sword in the old but effective “your best man against mine”, fight. The alliance between the Greek god and the War lord is fragile and threatens the nation.
The younger prince of troy, Paris (played by Orlando Bloom) has got his priorities mixed up on a diplomatic mission to Sparta, and ends up having an affair with the queen of Sparta, the beautiful Helen, (played by Diane Kruger) who later elopes with the Spartans. The enraged king of Sparta, Menelaus, seeks revenge and asks for help from Agamemnon.
Agamemnon, who is also Menelaus’ brother, accepts the offer whole heartedly. For he had for long wanted to invade Troy and to command probably the best army in the whole of Greece.
The reluctance of Achilles to join the war is evident as he does not regard Agamemnon very highly as king and does not understand the reason behind the whole of Greece going to war, just because one Trojan offended a Greek and to quote “ A man whole could not hold on to his wife”. But neither does the war promised to be “never forgotten” nor do the heroes lure Achilles to join forces with the Greek, he does so on his own accord.
What follows is a bloody battle on the beaches of Troy. A battle well contested both in the respect of numbers, honor and quality of combat.
Although Wolfgang Petersen has toyed with Homer’s Iliad, his version of the epic is molded to suit the movie. For example having a Port at Sparta is to make the escape of Helen more realistic, and the ending has been aptly deviated to facilitate viewership.
With all its deviations the best part of the movie is that is highlights certain ancient combat ethics that have gone missing in the modern world. In the age of guerrilla warfare and self sufficient missiles, there is less space left for Honor on the battle field. Having said that, the other thing that is enthralling is the emphasis of the soldiers to make their names eternal and immortal.
I guess what sums up the movie and the idea that led to it, which is given in the opening lines;
“Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity, and so
We ask ourselves will our actions echo across centuries,
Will strangers take our names, long after we are gone and wonder who we were,
How bravely we fought who fiercely we loved.”
All in all, ‘Troy’ is among the recent classics on ancient Greece and is a must watch for everybody who loves a bit of war depiction. Well, now it’s almost five years since the release of the film and I do hope that no one has missed out on it- just in case you have, watch it and share the captivating experience!
Talha Masood Siddiqui