"..a bardy view!"

Troy and all that jazz….

I watched the movie Troy the other day and would like to thank Hollywood for rewriting history. Perhaps not history, more mythology, but it was loosely based on Homer's Iliad. Troy_main

"Loosely" meaning that it was as remote as a wifi connection in Mogadishu.

Anything which brings the classics to the masses should be applauded, but I suspect this was an attempt to capture interest from the sword and sandal brigade, especially after the success of Gladiator earlier.

The characters are a roll call of antiquity. Achilles, Hector, Paris, Helen, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Ajax, et al.

The gist is that Paris (son of Priam the king of Troy) stole the beautiful Helen (wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta) and that was used as an excuse for the Greeks to invade.

Everyone knows the story. The wooden horse (left as a parting gift by the defeated Greeks) was subsequently hauled within the walls of Troy, and unbeknown to all, a group of warriors secretly climbed out of it during the night to open the gates for the rampant Greek and Ithican hordes.

The Trojan Horse and "beware of Greeks bearing gifts" are now synonymous with gullibility and danger. "Trojan" is even used in our high tech age to indicate a virus in a computer.

But's that's by the way. Lets look at the movie. Or more importantly lets look at the cast.

Our anti-hero is none other than Brad Pitt (Achilles), whose line delivery incorporated such gems as "we will all die one day" and "the gods will determine our future" proclaimed with a transatlantic accent where I'm sure the director was attempting to get him to sound like Russell Crowe.

Well luckily for Russell, he wasn't in this travesty. So our erstwhile and balletic Brad was seen swaying shields and swords around as if they were made of plywood (which they were) and prancing around in battle on a par with Rudolph Nureyev.

Meanwhile Paris, noted in the annals as a jolly good looking chap, was played by Orlando Bloom. Pity poor Peter O'Toole, who as Priam was giving off his theatrical best, but visibly pained for having to share lines with such a lightweight.

Add to this Eric Bana (Hector), Priam's son and Paris's brother, who approached his role with all the enthusiasm of a chicken on a KFC production line, and O'Toole must have wished he was back in Ireland with his bottle of pochine.

Getting away from the Hollywood stars (dim as they were), the film was notable for sound British character actors. Without them it would probably have gone straight to DVD.

Peter O'Toole aside, Agamemnon was portrayed by Brian Cox. He certainly had the stature and menace, but unfortunately, his character (being Greek) did not speak with a Scottish brogue, and this let him down.

"Hoy yeu Jimmy! Ai'm ganna knock yooer whaills doon, aye!"

Well you get the drift. Brian Cox is a great actor, but like Sean Connery, he can't escape his dialect. Think Connery when he was playing an immortal Spanish don in Highlander, or an Irish Chicago cop in the Untouchables.

Then we had Sean Bean playing Odysseus. Actually it was Bean playing Sharpe playing Odysseus with healthy Yorkshire grit.

"Ayh bah gum! Call that a sword lad? Wellington wud 'ave youer arse! Ya greet dollop!" (Oops – wrong war!)

As for Helen – the face which launched a thousand ships – she was rather a bland blond with little dialogue. This Helen would have been hard pressed to launch a firework on November 5th. Fortunately the excellent Saffron Burrows was on hand to play Hector's wife, but even her role was limited.

Trevor Eve popped up as well (surely not on a shoestring? Or maybe he thought he was waking the dead!).

There was a glazed appearance about Trevor. (Looking stunned for a lost plot perhaps?) There were a few more English thespians who looked equally bemused, and probably thought they were in a Greek travel commercial.

It strikes me that these Hollywood blockbusters would be pretty lame without the die-hard troopers from the British stage. These guys must be raking it in. Always around to add a bit of weight to the inane fodder churned out by the glamour factory.

As for special effects it couldn't be beat – thanks to CGI. Without that, all the extras required would have bankrupted the thing before scene one.

It is possible to convey history with less expense. "I Claudius" was a work of superb drama by the BBC and has yet to be beat. Writers like Robert Graves come along very rarely, or maybe they are still out there, but not getting the breaks anymore.

Everyone is looking at the commercial angle, and quality drama does not have a place in a dumbed down, quick thrill, short attention span big-screen-world anymore.

The theatre is out there! Thank Zeus!


September 18, 2009 - Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Another epic and thanks for that. Am still laughing all the way to the bank. Hoots mon, can ye ken that?


    Comment by Spook | September 25, 2009 | Reply

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