> Volume 6 > Number 20


Wolfgang Petersen

Brad Pitt
Orlando Bloom
Eric Bana
Diane Kruger
Brian Cox
Sean Bean
Peter O'Toole
Brendan Gleeson
Saffron Burrows

Release: 14 May 04



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

©2004, David Perry,, 14 May 2004