It was 2,700 years ago that the blind Greek poet Homer dictated his epic poem to a scribe. The poem’s first installment, The Iliad – the story upon which the film Troy is based – tells of young love and glorious battle; the second installment, The Odyssey, records the journey of a hardy group of Greeks who refuse to ask for directions and consequently get lost on their way home from war – but that is a story for another time.
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The Iliad is almost 1,600 lines long, so we are offering our readers the following condensed version: boy meets girl; they fall in love; boy takes girl home to meet dad; girl’s husband (oops!) takes offense; husband follows wife and brings 50,000 close friends to set things right; boy’s brother pays huge price; extended intermission.
The film Troy (now out on DVD) is Wolfgang Petersen’s modern-day adaptation of The Iliad. Both The Iliad and The Odyssey are based upon oral stories and were written roughly 500 years after the Trojan War was purported to have occurred. No one knows exactly what happened during this war, so if viewers put aside any expectation of a documentary-quality film, they’ll be rewarded with a fast-paced story about love, lust, war, honor, comradeship and the value of revenge as a motivational tool.
Viewers may find it helpful to have a scorecard handy to keep the players straight. Let’s begin with Helen of Sparta – supposedly the most beautiful woman in the world – who is married to King Menelaus. Menelaus is interested in negotiating a peace with the Trojans, led by King Priam. During a treaty conference, Helen meets two of Priam’s sons, Hector and Paris. Helen abandons Menelaus for Paris. Upon learning of this betrayal, Menelaus enjoins his brother, King Agamemnon of the Mycenaeans, to rally the troops and redeem the family honor. Sensing an opportunity to mix family business with kingdom business, Agamemnon...