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I actually went to see Troy, having had a long-standing interest in the Iliad, going back to kiddie versions when I was very young. It was better than I thought, but as is typical with this sort of thing, I find it hard to go with the film while I’m focusing on all the ways it diverges from the original source. The story they constructed was actually rather elegant, though bearing little relation to the traditional one; clearly a modern audience wouldn’t be satisfied with Homer, who doesn’t even include Achilles’ death or the climactic sack of Troy. Human political machinations are substituted for godly meddling; there’s more romance, rendered in Harlequin style; and the violence is more bombastic, but no more graphic than it is in the poem. All in all it’s pretty mainstream, and I couldn’t help but think of all the missed possibilities for an “alternative” take on the material. Brad Pitt is impossibly pretty, which is fine for “god-like Achilles”, but there are no homosexual overtones: he is in contrast to the other rough-hewn Greek heroes, and the general relishing of the male body is not extended throughout the corps. Even in classical Greece there were rumors that he and Patroclus were more than just friends, but here Achilles is made to be a protective older cousin. Worse, they missed the chance to have Pitt in drag, trying to avoid conscription at the start of the war. And I won’t even mention the possibilities of the necrophilia scene with the Amazon Achilles falls in love with, after he’s killed her…

Anyway, since JL was asking about rentals kids might like, I’ll say that while there were some impressive visualizations here, if you want a pop mythic epic nothing beats the low-tech (OK, it was high tech then) stop-motion of Jason and the Argonauts, the 1963 sword & sandal classic with effects by Ray Harryhausen.

- alex 6-10-2004 10:11 pm [link] [12 comments]