Visually speaking, Troy leaves nothing to be desired. The time period is recreated beautifully through stunning visual effects, realistic sets, and detailed costumes. With a budget of $176 million, Troy is a film that should look good, and it does. But audiences today are way beyond being “wowed” by such things. We’ve come to expect them as accoutrements to a good story, not a replacement for it.

(2004) Film Review by Mike Furches and Kevin Miller

This page was created on May 14, 2004
This page was last updated on December 28, 2004


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CREDITS

Click to enlargeDirected by Wolfgang Petersen
Poem by Homer
Screenplay by David Benioff

Cast (in credits order)
Julian Glover .... Triopas
Brian Cox .... Agamemnon
Nathan Jones .... Boagrius
Adoni Maropis .... Agamemnon's Officer
Jacob Smith .... Messenger Boy
Brad Pitt .... Achilles
John Shrapnel .... Nestor
Brendan Gleeson .... Menelaus
Diane Kruger .... Helen
Eric Bana .... Hector
Orlando Bloom .... Paris
Siri Svegler .... Polydora
Lucie Barat .... Helen's Handmaiden
Ken Bones .... Hippasus
Manuel Cauchi .... Old Spartan Fisherman
Mark Lewis Jones .... Tecton
Garrett Hedlund .... Patroclus
Sean Bean .... Odysseus
Julie Christie .... Thetis
Peter O'Toole .... Priam
James Cosmo .... Glaucus
Nigel Terry .... Archeptolemus
Trevor Eve .... Velior
Owain Yeoman .... Lysander
Saffron Burrows .... Andromache
Luke Tal .... Scamandrius
Matthew Tal .... Scamandrius
Rose Byrne .... Briseis
Vincent Regan .... Eudorus
Tyler Mane .... Ajax
Louis Dempsey .... Aphareus
Joshua Richards .... Haemon
Tim Chipping .... Echepolus
Desislava Stefanova .... Singing Woman
Tanja Tzarovska .... Singing Woman
Alex King .... Apollonian Guard
Frankie Fitzgerald .... Aeneas

Produced by
Winston Azzopardi .... co-producer
Wolfgang Petersen .... producer
Diana Rathbun .... producer
Colin Wilson .... producer

Original Music by James Horner
Cinematography by Roger Pratt
Film Editing by Peter Honess



MPAA: Rated R for graphic violence and some sexuality/nudity.
Runtime: 163 min

For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG

TRAILERS AND CLIPS
Trailers, Photos
CD
Troy (Score)
James Horner

1. 3200 Years Ago
2. Troy
3. Achilles Leads The Myrmidons
4. The Temple Of Poseidon
5. The Night Before
6. The Greek Army And Its Defeat
7. Briseis And Achilles
8. The Trojans Attack
9. Hector’s Death
10. The Wooden Horse And The Sacking Of Troy
11. Through The Fires, Achilles . . . And Immortality
12. Remember - Performed by Josh Groban with Tanja Tzarovska
BOOK
Troy
by Adele Geras

Homer's mighty epic poem, The Iliad, is the earliest written literature of Western civilization. Adele Geras, best known for her trilogy based on Sleeping Beauty, takes on the seemingly impertinent task of retelling the siege of Troy as a young adult novel, but manages to carry it off without trivializing the original. The great battles of the bronze-clad warriors and the clashes between Achilles and Hector and Odysseus are seen at a distance from the walls of the city, where the Trojan townsfolk gather to sit each day and cheer the action like spectators at some archaic football game.

The passion of Helen and Paris, Hector's farewell to his ill-fated infant son, and other familiar domestic scenes are seen from a closer perspective, through the eyes of the four teenage protagonists. Marpessa is Helen's young servant, and her sister Xanthe is nursemaid to Hector's baby son, while Iason, who is secretly beloved by their friend Polyxena, tends the horses and yearns for Xanthe, who has a crush on Alastor, who has impregnated Marpessa. These complicated, interlocking infatuations and love affairs work themselves out against a background of siege and bloodshed watched over by the gods. Artemis, Mars, Poseidon, and Pallas Athene appear in visions to reveal their plans to the characters (and to us), but their words blow away like mist as soon as they are gone. Meanwhile, the bawdy gossip of three old serving maids in the kitchen emulates a Greek chorus. The story winds to its inevitable destination with the emergence of the Greeks from the wooden horse and the bloody sack of the city--a suitably violent end to an ancient and violent tale. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell

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SYNOPSIS
Click to enlargeThroughout time, men have waged war. Some for power, some for glory, some for honor – and some for love.

In ancient Greece, the passion of two of literature’s most notorious lovers, Paris, Prince of Troy (ORLANDO BLOOM) and Helen (DIANE KRUGER), Queen of Sparta, ignites a war that will devastate a civilization. When Paris spirits Helen away from her husband, King Menelaus (BRENDAN GLEESON), it is an insult that cannot be suffered. Familial pride dictates that an affront to Menelaus is an affront to his brother Agamemnon (BRIAN COX), powerful King of the Mycenaeans, who soon unites all the massive tribes of Greece to steal Helen back from Troy in defense of his brother’s honor.

In truth, Agamemnon’s pursuit of honor is corrupted by his overwhelming greed – he needs to conquer Troy to seize control of the Aegean, thus ensuring the supremacy of his already vast empire. The walled city, under the leadership of King Priam (PETER O’TOOLE) and defended by mighty Prince Hector (ERIC BANA), is a citadel that no army has ever been able to breach. One man alone stands as the key to victory or defeat over Troy – Achilles (BRAD PITT), believed to be the greatest warrior alive.

Arrogant, rebellious and seemingly invincible, Achilles has allegiance to nothing and no one, save his own glory. It is his insatiable hunger for eternal renown that leads him to attack the gates of Troy under Agamemnon’s banner – but it will be love that ultimately decides his fate.

Two worlds will go to war for honor and power. Thousands will fall in pursuit of glory. And for love, a nation will burn to the ground.

Click to go to Kevin's BlogReview by KEVIN MILLER BLOG
Kevin Miller is a freelance writer, editor, and educator who has written, co-written, and edited over 30 books, both fiction and non-fiction. A film reviewer for the past two years, Kevin is very excited to join hollywoodjesus.com. He currently resides in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada with his wife, Heidi, and their children Huw and Gretchen (and one more on the way). They attend Fresh Wind Christian Fellowship, a non-denominational church that focuses on reaching the disabled, children, and people who've been "burnt by the church." To learn more about Kevin, visit www.kevinwrites.com
Click to enlargeTroy is one of several sweeping, historical epics that probably went into pre-production the moment Gladiator’s first weekend box office receipts came in. Other upcoming releases in this genre include King Arthur, Oliver Stone’s Alexander (based on the life of Alexander the Great), and Hannibal the Conqueror (with Vin Diesel in the lead role). Like the spate of World War II movies that Saving Private Ryan kicked off a few years ago, this group of films will likely include one or two shining specimens of cinematic excellence (such as Terence Malick’s The Thin Red Line) and a number of wannabes and “also rans.” Unfortunately for Brad Pitt and co., Troy gets things off to a rough start. Even though the theme of Troy is the importance of doing something that will be remembered for eternity, I doubt if this movie will be remembered much longer than the time it takes to end its theatrical run and begin its release on DVD.

Click to enlargeThe main problem with Troy is exactly what made Gladiator work: casting. I suspect that if several of the relatively unknown actors who fill out the minor roles in Troy switched places with the A-listers who were supposed to carry this film, Troy would have had far more emotional depth than it has. That’s because in virtually every instance, the lesser-known actors upstage their better-paid peers, conveying an emotional intensity that goes far beyond anything the Hollywood hunks have to offer. Perhaps the only A-lister I wouldn’t replace is Eric Bana (Hector). But even he is no Russell Crowe.

Click to enlargeThe person who needed to match Crowe’s intensity and charisma—Brad Pitt (Achilles)—is a particularly weak point. Regrettably, he’s also the star. There’s an old saying that you can only lead others as far as you’ve gone yourself. As I watched Pitt struggle to express feelings of anger and grief, I wondered if he had ever really felt such things before, because most of what came across was either confusion or a ramped up parody of those emotions. He didn’t really lead me anywhere. Fortunately, he doesn’t have too many lines or long speeches in this film, so his effect on the overall story is minimized. But that doesn’t cover up for the gaping hole left by his character. This film desperately needs a hero with whom we can identify and root for. Eric Bana and Sean Bean (Odysseus) make a valiant effort to compensate for Pitt’s lack, but even though both actors deliver fine performances, two minor heroes does not a movie make.

Click to enlargeVisually speaking, Troy leaves nothing to be desired. The time period is recreated beautifully through stunning visual effects, realistic sets, and detailed costumes. With a budget of $176 million, Troy is a film that should look good, and it does. But audiences today are way beyond being “wowed” by such things. We’ve come to expect them as accoutrements to a good story, not a replacement for it. While I don’t think director Wolfgang Petersen is trying to pass off a sow’s ear as a silk purse here, there’s something about this overall production that rings hollow.

Click to enlargePerhaps that’s because there is so little to cheer for in this film. We have Paris (Orlando Bloom), a selfish young prince who allows his lust (sorry, I mean love) to carry his kingdom into war; Achilles, who is little more than a killing machine; Agamemnon (Brian Cox), a caricature of a petty dictator; Helen (Diane Kruger), who makes a couple attempts at heroism but backs out at the first opportunity; and Priam (Peter O’Toole), a doddering old king who has taken to heeding his soothsayer’s omens instead of his son Hector’s practical advice. We don’t really care about any of these people, because all of them are motivated by greed, lust, a desire for fame, and a half dozen other petty concerns. We go to movies to watch heroes rise above such things, not indulge them. We’re looking for hope, not yet another reminder about the perpetual state of war and conflict humankind has been in since time immemorial.

Click to enlargeBut perhaps that is the real power of this film—as a cautionary tale about where we will end up if we continue to allow our selfish desires to rule our actions. If you listen closely, you will find numerous lines that convey a not-so-subtle anti-war agenda lurking beneath this story, which happens to be about one of the most fabled battles of all time. “Imagine a king who fights his own battles,” Achilles says sardonically to Agamemnon right before heading off to war. “War is young men dying and old men talking,” he says later on, and, “Don’t waste your life following some fool’s orders.” Why all of this anti-war talk? Probably because the characters, particularly Achilles, realize they are nothing more than pawns in a game played by kings. War is just personal desires magnified to a national and international level. The best a pawn can hope for in such a game is a valiant death, one that will be remembered for all eternity. But it is a pitiful hope, really, because the one who achieves such a goal won’t be around to benefit from their notoriety. In the end, all that will be satisfied is the individual’s vanity, and then only for a moment. It reminds me of a line Christ once spoke, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

During the opening shots of this film, Odysseus says all men are haunted by the vastness of eternity and their seeming insignificance in the face of it. As this film demonstrates, many great and terrible things have been done to overcome this fear. But in the end, it all comes down to a choice: Whom will we serve: God or self? That and only that will determine our standing in eternity. As the Apostle Paul says, “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8). The choice is ours.

Review by MIKE FURCHES
mike@furches.org

Web sitewww.furches.org


Mike is the Senior Pastor at United at the Cross Community Church in Wichita Kansas. United at the Cross is a church made up of individuals not often accepted in other churches. The church consists of former gang members, drug addicts, prostitutes and others. Mike also speaks nationally on various topics and is a freelance writer. To learn more about Mike and his ministry link onto www.furches.org. In the arts Mike has worked with top music artists such as Steppenwolf, Marshall Tucker Band, Kansas and has an active interest in film. Mike is pictured with his music band "Route 66."

Written about the same time as the events portrayed in this movie:

I am the Lord your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves. Do not worship any other god except me. Do not make any idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. Don’t bow down and worship idols. I am the Lord your God, and I demand all your love. If you reject me and worship idols, I will punish your families for three or four generations. But if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations.
-- Deuteronomy 5: 6-10 (Contemporary English Version)

Click to enlargeAfter seeing Troy last night, I just couldn't keep from thinking about the God I serve. I am grateful that I serve a God like Jehovah or Yahweh (two of the names for the same God, served by many Jews and Christians), as opposed to the many gods that were served in the culture of Ancient Greece during the period a thousand or so years before Jesus lived, the historical setting for this movie.

Based loosely on Homer’s epic The Iliad, Troy takes some liberties with the story of the triumph of the Greeks over the Trojans. As a part of the plot, there are components and stories intertwined of the characters Helen of Troy played by newcomer Diane Kruger, Hector played by Eric Bana, Paris by Orlando Bloom, and Priam played brilliantly by Peter O’Toole. Then there is Achilles, played by Brad Pitt, unfortunately.

Click to enlargeI say unfortunately because it doesn’t take long to see that Brad Pitt has about the same potential to play a character with this range and depth as I have to pick up and throw a 400 pound boulder 50 feet. Why Hollywood producers and directors can’t see this is beyond me. Then again, when you hear the ooo’s and ahhs’s the first time he appears without a shirt, you realize the casting was more about initial ticket sales and hormones than it was about accurate and sensitive portrayal of a legendary figure. I am not saying that Brad Pitt is not a deserving actor in the right venue, but he portrays this deep and passionate character with about the same level and range of performance that he has shown in most any other movie. There is one scene where Pitt is grieving and crying over the loss of his cousin, and I found myself laughing outright (although not out loud) at his inability to be convincing in this type of role. (Now don't misunderstand me, for something like The Fight Club or other ventures where Pitt has not required a full and mature dramatic range, he has done a pretty good job.) I happen to blame the casting director for his failure in Troy more than I blame Pitt himself. Enough of my ramble here, I think I have made my point.

Technically this movie had me longing for the days of Kirk Douglas in Spartacus or Charlton Heston in Ben Hur. These are movies that are character- and piece-driven, yet where the producers took seriously the story and effects. I have to wonder if that was the case in Troy. Personally, I got real tired, real quick of the CGI effects in this movie. Layers of ships or soldiers got old very fast. I believe that even a novice moviegoer will quickly be able to distinguish the special effects in this movie, and it is one of the things that really bothered and distracted me: good special effects should not be so obvious. (I still say Forrest Gump has some of the best special effects ever filmed.) I found myself being critical of other aspects of this movie though, especially the purpose of the war.

Click to enlargeAll through the culture and storyline of this movie, I could not help but notice the selfish desires of selfish individuals, selfish to the point of allowing the needless deaths of thousands of individuals. The only character that I seemed to care about in this movie was the only one who seemed to "get it." Priam, played to perfection by the wonderful actor Peter O’Toole, reminds Achilles of how many cousins he (Achilles) must have killed in battle. Achilles gets the point and tells Priam that Priam's people are fighting for a good king and that Priam is a king that he himself wishes he was fighting for. My thoughts in this scene were "If you realize this, why don’t you fight for what is right, as opposed to pursuing your own glory?" It is a part of the frustration of the movie that even the semi-hero Hector, played by Eric Bana, is fighting for his own self-respect as opposed to doing what is best for his people. Then, throughout all this fighting we see the desire of the people to follow their gods, and their belief that their gods will take care of them. We can only conclude that it was ultimately the inability to reason, love, and see reality that was the destruction of Troy.

Most people know the basic storyline: that after being unable to enter the walls of Troy, the Greeks build a huge horse that the Trojans mistake for a tribute to a god. Instead of burning it, the Trojans decide to take it inside their walls and worship it. Late at night, the Greeks come out of the hollow horse, open up the doors to Troy, and the Greek army comes into the city and destroys it. Thus, belief in one more false god leads to death. All through the film, there is the realization that the gods that are worshiped have in reality no power. They are ultimately gods that have been created to provide, and approve of, pleasure.

As mentioned earlier, I could not help but reflect on my own belief in the true God, the God who made it clear, “I alone am God.” I was reminded that my God is a God of love and compassion. That is not to say that God is not a God of justice -- He is. But His justice is always associated with the knowledge that He is the one doing the work. Take the battle of Jericho for example: "Do not fight your wars with thousands of troops, instead march around the fort several times, then blow your horns, and I, God, will knock the walls down for you." The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has a way of doing things like this.

The movie also caused me to think of how the passion and leadership was so selfish among the rulers of the day -- but then the society of that time in some ways was not so much different than it is today. There was such a focus on “me,” you might think they were the original “me generation.” The reality of it is that their focus on the desires of individuals was the cause for the ultimate destruction of their societies. Perhaps if they'd put aside self-interest long enough to feel and show compassion and love for those around them, their cultures might still exist as more than myth.

Click to enlargeThe power of love was one of the things that has enabled Jesus’ message to stay strong and vibrant for so many years. Forget the unfortunate impression made by many “Christians” and remember the message of Jesus himself. It was love that made his message so revolutionary. While others came to destroy, he came to give life: to serve and to love. Priam seems to glimpse this ideal -- the importance of service and love -- when he tells Achilles that sometimes a person learns to lead when they learn to serve. Jesus didn’t have a love for only himself but a love shown by showing the ultimate love for others. Jesus even reminded his followers that when we lose our lives for others, which is to love at all costs, it is then and only then that we can find life and true purpose. That is a concept that still provides hope, but it is a message that was entirely lacking in the Greek and Trojan cultures. It was a concept that was unfortunately learned all too late and after far too many disastrous consequences.

Click to enlargeThis movie could have been so much more. For many wanting to see a sexy and elegant Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom or Eric Bana, they will get their wish. It's too bad that the great job of acting by veteran Peter O’Toole and the lessons spoken by his character will probably be overlooked by those who go only to see the hunks. Bloom and Bana actually do quite nicely with their roles, but they are not seasoned enough yet to get so much out of so little in the same way that O’Toole does. The movie also offers a revealing comparison between ancient societies and the societies of today's Western World. It is "all about me” unfortunately, and that "all about me” mindset oftentimes leads to heartache and destruction.

Long story made short: if not obvious by now, I simply did not like this movie. It left a lot to be desired, even though it did cause me to reflect on the gratitude I have for my God. Unfortunately, those living without God may very well be living with the very gods of “self” that are portrayed in Troy. Now it would truly be a shame if the consequences of following that god were the same for those living today as it was for those living then, as portrayed in the movie.

On a scale of 1 – 10, for the money I would like to have refunded from my $7 ticket purchase, a disappointing but reflective 4.

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