06-25-04: Finally saw the movie again, and I kind of enjoyed it more. Every time I see it, I will always mourn the absence of the gods (despite their constant mention), but I was able to kind of neglect it and focus on plot errors. Plot errors you say? How can their be plot errors? Well for starters, they showed a lot of sunset shots where soldiers “looked like” they were preparing for battle. But then again it might have been patrols during one of the many 12 day funeral games. The other big thing that just pissed me off was the honor contradiction. It’s ancient Greece which was an ancient warrior culture where honor is THE most important thing about war. However, Peterson’s apparent need to show off Eric Bana as much as possible created some deadly inconsistencies. First, Hector led that charge into the Temple of Apollo at Chryses, but Achilles lets him go (“It’s to early in the day for killing princes”). This not only dishonors Hector, but creates a life bond between Achilles and Hector. Then, Hector kills Menelaus during a private battle between Menelaus and Paris which (if taken in a present world context) would seem honorable because he defended his brother. But this is supposed to be ancient Greece, not present day America. Hector should have stayed out of the battle and gotten Paris back inside, rather than killing Menelaus. Yeah, it kind of moved the movie forward (motivated the attack), but it doesn’t fit ancient Greece. I still don’t get why Hector and Odysseus call off the days fighting after the death of Patroklus, but I guess I’m not supposed to. Maybe it was another Peterson moment like “Oh my gosh, I’ve killed a child, we should go home now” but that is way to modern. Oh, and at the end when Paris guides the Trojans to the secret tunnel, he gives the sword of Troy to a young man who leads the Trojans through the tunnel. When I first saw the movie, I thought Bloom called the kid Illius (which was another name for Troy) and I thought that was funny. Turns out, the kids name was Aeneas, who led the Trojans to found Rome in Virgil’s Aenid (which was where the Trojan Horse story is from as recalled in Aeneas’ memories). The only actual guide to what happened inside the gates of Troy (which was very nicely done in the film, no matter what stories I read from now on) is Smryna’s “Fall of Troy” which recounts how Achilles was killed by Paris (with the help of Apollo) who was later killed by Philoctetes with one of Hercules’ poison arrows (from the Hydra). But that’s another story.
05-22-04: OH, guess what? The Illiad doesn’t discuss the death of Achilles, just the return of Hector to Priam. So I buy that Achilles was killed within the walls of Troy.
Apparently, Warner Bros. not only invested 250 million dollars into this project, they also fired Gabriel Yared (who had spent the past year working on a score that Wolfgang (Peterson, the director) loved) ONE MONTH before the movie opened. Well, the exec’s are going to be shitting that 250 million dollars for quite some time, now, because there is no way the movie will break that (or even make it in pessimistic opinion columns). I had looked forward to this movie ever since I heard about it for the sole reason that it was an adaptation of that classic war story The Iliad. I kept wringing my hands every time I heard that they had cut the Grecian Gods out of the film, because the gods were more integral to the story than the humans actually fighting the war. Every major death or event was blessed by some god. By cutting out the gods, Wolfgang was forced to make the story focus on Achilles’ love for Briseis, which although substantial, is not enough to hang a movie plot on. Actually, I have to give him some credit, because he only denied the gods a physical appearance (who wants people running around in togas? (I DO!)) because they are mentioned heavily, especially the fact that they sack the temple of Apollo at the very beginning of the film. So I can’t complain about everything. I just started out that way because this was supposed to be THE summer movie for me, and now it wasn’t what I expected and I feel let down. But that’s not the case at all. It was a fantastic film with amazing battle sequences. I loved the one-on-one fights that were the focus of the war. Especially when Ajax punches enemy horses. I mean, it’s a trick shot, but still. The great movies always have someone punching a horse (what can I say except I hate P.E.T.A.). And who can forget Achilles’ jump and stab maneuver. From the first time I saw it, I was in awe. The first time he does it, I think it’s CGI, but the rest during the fight with Hector are real. The only reason I think the first one is fake is just because it looks too perfect. I also loved Orlando Bloom, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, and especially Eric Bana’s performances. I was laughing my head off when Menelaus kicked Paris’ ass because it was perfectly interpreted. Brian Cox is one of my favorite actors and he is deadly accurate with his first-rate performance of the power-hungry Agamemnon. Sean Bean was Achilles’ voice of reason as the ever popular Odysseus (whom the Romans called Ulysses). And Eric Bana was wonderful. As much as I “enjoyed” The Hulk, he has definitely redeemed himself here.
Q. How the hell did Paris know to shoot Achilles in the heel?
A. There is no possible way he could have known, so the only explanation is that the gods blessed the event.
It was an amazing war epic, but it’s not what I wanted for an Iliad adaptation. Course, it was drawn from the Iliad as well as Virgil’s Aeneid (just the part about the wooden horse), so it’s bound to just have the best parts and not necessarily the “good” stuff. Oh well.