Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, May 19, 2004  

Troy: worse than Titanic

The new movie, Troy, is one of the worst ever made. I expected some bad spots, but my wife and I laughed out loud four or five times, and I had to restrain myself more than that.

They butchered the story. There was not a single believable character nor line of dialogue. It is as if they ransacked every war and anti-war movie to extract every possible cliche about war and the people who make war. There is not one salutary line about courage, bravery, devotion to duty. Honor is always spoken with a sneer.

They missed every important theme in the Iliad, and added ones which were trite, stupid, romantic nonsense. My wife said, "It's as if they turned The Iliad into a Harlequin Romance."

Troy is bad. Not just a little bad, but horribly, laughably bad. The acting is terrible, wooden, over the top, and silly. Brad Pitt looks like he's posing for Playgirl in every shot. It shows that not even good actors can overcome a hideous script and terrible direction.

This is the worst sword and sandals flick since the 50's, but Steve Reeves was never this bad (or maybe, yes, he was).

One expects some liberties with this story since Homer mixed elements of Bronze Age war and that of his own time.

If I recounted all that they got wrong, I'd be writing pages. What's worse is that they had no respect for the story, the age it came from, the kind of people that lived, and the respect for the Gods that people had. People didn't pretend to reverance Gods and seek divine help. There were no atheists or sarcastic scoffers.

Gladiator with Russell Crowe is an example of getting things right. They got Roman battle absolutely right. They got gladitorial combat well enough although they obviously exaggerated or heightened the action. They got Rome right, the murderous intrigue and madness of some emperors. It had the right look and feel. They respected Crowe's character reverance for his god, his faith. I thought the latter parts slow and lugubrious, but the basic universe for the rather weak story was there.

The Emperor Commodus had his brother killed (if I recall correctly) and fancied himself a gladiator. His enemies had him strangled to death by a wrestler he engaged to show off against. He was the Uday Hussein of his day. Gladiator substituted a more contrived plot for those facts, but the Hollywood factor (formula) didn't destroy all the value of the movie. It had a few very good scenes.

Having spent 200 million on a flop, we won't be seeing a better version of The Iliad any time soon, anymore than a new version of The Lord of the Rings.

You also wonder where the money went, for there are no great scenes, gorgeous cinematography, wondrous costumes or even cast. If they spent it all on adding ships at sea, and figures of men at battle (truly like ants scouring the plain), they were gypped because they are not the least impressive in terms of scale or emotion. In fact, this movie hardly affects any emotions since it works overtime in the most ham handed manner in trying to desperately manipulate emotions.

What is striking is that Troy is a very stupid, trite, condescending movie made by smart, very clever people who didn't intend to be contemptuous of Homer, but lacked the kind of imagination needed to respond to The Iliad (and Odyssey), and honor him as Homer honors humanity.

I won't give away how Achilles dies, but it is hilarious.

All my life (I learned the Troy story as a small child from a children's book which I dearly loved to have reread to me over and over. I wanted to cry every single time Hector died.) I've wanted The Iliad properly transferred to cinema. It will probably never happen in my lifetime now.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:32 PM |