Release: 14 May 04
BY: DAVID PERRY
Steely eyed, golden locked, and muscle-bound, Brad Pitt
strikes a commanding pose as Achilles, the great mythic soldier whose need
for glory blinded his own better judgment. Heís everything any
cinematographer would want in a Greek hero, what with the bronzed body and
classically chiseled facial features. Of course, heís also the last actor
any intelligent writer would want to speak his or her thunderous prose.
Certainly a good actor, Pitt still has the Midwestern voice with its lax
intonation that turns every rally of the troops speech into a town meeting
on farm subsidies.
That surely doesnít matter much to the producers of Troy, who know Pitt will
sell tickets (note the filmís one-sheet, which is little more than an
advertisement for Pittís workout regimen). Plus, itís not like Homer's going
to complain about the casting any time soon. But, I do expect the
historians, literary classicists, and mythology junkies to complain:
Wolfgang Petersenís vision of the Greek siege on Troy is more Braveheart and
Gladiator than the Odyssey. Give it an Oscar, and call it a day.
Whatever authenticity questions that might arise (and authenticity is a bit
of a stretch anyway, considering the source material), Troy does have its
share of thrilling moments, and its variation on the themes of the Greek
mythology isnít as aggravating as the casting (Orlando Bloom as Paris? Rose
Byrne as Briseis? Only Brendan Gleeson as Menelaus and a staggeringly
wonderful Brian Cox as Agamemnon succeed in their roles as arch villains).
Petersen knows how to stage a battle, which is clearly a necessity for a
director whose lens must capture the Greek armyís rise to power and the
series of battles that kept them at bay outside Troy for months. What heís
never fully secure with, though, is the pacing, which, even in his
masterpiece Das Boot, has been a longstanding uphill battle (his directorís
cut of Das Boot, though currently the only version available, is inferior to
the drastically shorter one released in America in 1982). Troy plods along
like a workhorse, putting all the parts in place for the battles to ensue.
If he wasnít so secure with the culmination of this planning, the whole
movie would have been just as dry and infertile as the Iowa land Achilles is
seemingly lobbying for.