Making the Grades
With multiplexes full of flat cardboard characters who represent the black and white extremes of dramatic conflict, it's a refreshing change to see a cast of characters of varying shades of gray. If there is no other reason to find some enjoyment in Troy, for me, that is reason enough.
Concentrating on the battle between the Trojans and the Greeks written about in Homer's The Iliad, the film opens with Paris (Orlando Bloom), the Prince of Troy, convincing the Queen of Sparta (Diane Kruger) to hop aboard his boat and head back to his house. Her acceptance begins a domino reaction that will lead to the death of thousands of men, women and children.
The initial reaction of King Menalaus (Brendan Gleeson) to his wife's jumping ship is one of appalling insult. But his brother, King Agamemnon, finds terrible opportunity in the young dame's destructive decision. Looking for a good reason to battle the peaceful Trojans, he fans Menalaus's anger into a raging fire, and convinces the usually disparate factions within Greece to unite and conquer Troy.
Charged with defending his land from the invasion force of 50,000 Greeks is Paris's brother, Prince Hector (Eric Bana). Knowing his army is vastly outnumbered; he relies on the huge fortress surrounding the city to keep the Grecians at bay. But there is one in the crowd whose reputation precedes him. Achilles (Brad Pitt) is a powerful warrior who is rumored to have immortal abilities. His mere presence sends most soldiers running, and Hector isn't certain that even the walls of Tory can stop him.
Likely to be one of the titles that appears in Oscar competition next year, this $150 million epic is another big budget R-rated gamble by Warner Brothers, whose execs hope droves of eyeballs will embrace. Unfortunately far too much buzz has been driven by the anticipation of seeing Brad Pitt nearly naked (an overt marketing ploy to attract female viewers), and not enough talk is being granted to the amazing supporting cast in this film (nor are we any wiser as to why Brad has a silly English accent).
For example, Peter O'Toole playing King Priam of Troy extends his character's realm into an interesting area. Unlike the Greek brothers who want the world on a platter, the soft-spoken ruler is easy to empathize with, even though he too suffers from making decisions based on pride, revenge, and the miscalculated opinions of his superstitious spiritual advisers.
Heavy on battle scenes which include decapitations, stabbings, and nearly every other imaginable way of taking life known to men at that time, Troy also delves into the sexual immorality enjoyed by characters like Achilles. To a degree, this content is warranted so that we can understand the complexities of his character, but the unnecessary rear male and female nudity adds to the reasons this movie is in the R-camp.
Grand in every scope (especially the battles scenes where thousands clash with swords and shields), Troy is an interesting study of how selfish decisions and pride can bring about absolute calamity. It's unfortunate that in a year dominated by mediocre movies, this artistically solid film isn't likely to meet many families' standards for viewing-even by older teens.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Troy.
While Troy takes heavy artistic license on what little is known about this period of history, it still poses some interesting questions about pride. How does pride affect our ability to make rational decisions? Can you think of a conflict that hasn’t been the result of someone’s pride being hurt?
How much responsibility for the catastrophic consequences should lie on the shoulders of Helen of Troy? Do you think she holds complete accountability for what resulted? If not, what was she responsible for causing?