Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

15 May 2004

Trojan: For your pleasure.

The reason I fell in love with The Iliad as a small child was the amount of meddling and interaction the Greek deities had in the lives of the folks on Earth. Each god and goddess had their favorite people and several loyalties.  It was a kind of "Melrose Place" in the sky, and the deities fought amongst each other, using the humans as pawns in some kind of eterna; heavenly power play.  I loved this about The Iliad, possibly because I thought gods that I could actually see and who would do shit for me were a really good deal, or possibly because I just dug the idea of competing with only eleven other people for power.

Troy, as you might have heard, does not have a single actor or actress playing a Greek deity.  The folks onscreen seem to mention these gods incessantly, but there is not a god to be found in this movie.  The result of this (in my estimation) miscalculation on the part of David Benioff, the screenwriter, is that the characters in the film come across to us as weird-o religious people who believe in about a million gods, none of whom we, in our infinite modern wisdom, believe in a bit.  The problem with this is that we are distanced from the characters considerably.  They make decisions based on these gods, and we're all thinking, "Haven't they heard of Jesus?" or, "Haven't they read Neitzsche?"  'Cause I have.  So I don't connect with these crazy, weird-o religious characters.  They seem old to me, ancient even, and this is death to a movie that is set in Ancient Greece.

The movie isn't awful.  I was rarely bored.  James Horner's score is awful, and some of the dialogue is just atrocious: Helen says, at one point, "Don't play with me... don't play," and I'm thinking, "Couldn't she have said 'toy?'"  The makeup is outstanding.  Pay attention for very small details that were all attended too by the makeup artist, who deserves an Oscar nomination for sure.  I wanted to mention the pronunciation of some of the names: Shakespearean actors have been pronouncing Priam as Pry-am forever.  In Troy, it's Pree-am (like preemptive strike).  And Menelaus, who we've all been taught is called Mene-lay-us, is pronounced Mene-low-us, which doesn't even look right if you think about it.  And did we have to make Patroclus, so clearly Achilles lover and confidant in The Iliad, into his cousin.  Everything was so very heterosexual.  I was so relieved.  No homos in this movie.

Brad Pitt is, in my estimation, quite good.  He is never overacting and mostly sturdy in the part.  He is capable of so much more as an actor, though, but I suppose this is not the movie for that.  This is a movie where he is the action hero.  Eric Bana is overdone.  I wished that sometimes he would deliver some of his lines without yelling.  No siree.  That was not to be.  Orlando Bloom is gorgeous and shirtless, and I suppose he's alright in the part, but Paris is such a fucking wimp that he's really hard to love.  The audience I saw it with was laughing out loud at him when he tried to convince Helen that he could support them by hunting for rabbit and deer.  We were seriously vocally laughing at him .  Brian Cox is the worst actor in the movie, easily.  He is huge, bombastic, and chews through scenery as if it's the last role he'll ever get.  I usually like him in films: L.I.E., Adaptation., even X2; but in this movie, he's horrible... just atrocious.  Peter O'Toole is fair, I guess, but he's just kind of a quivering old man through most of the movie.  Saffron Burrows is gorgeous.  Did I mention that?  She is just beautiful throughout the whole film.  Brendan Gleeson, Sean Bean, and Julie Christie were in the movie too, but not for very long.

Great action sequences.  At least 3 or 4 one one fights that rock.  Long running time (2:45), but not too long (it took the Greeks 10 years in Homer).  Mainly I just didn't care about these people (except for Achilles).  There is a thing about movies like this, though, and war movies in general, I think.  For me, when grown men get emotional with one another, I find it fairly moving.  I have a thing about fathers and sons anyway, but when grown men tell each other that they love them, I warm considerably to the action onscreen.