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“Troy” Film by Wolfgang Petersen Essay

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Updated: May 7th, 2021

Introduction

The film Troy was released officially in 2004. The film was produced by Wolfgang Petersen, Diana Rathbun, and Colin Wilson. Peterson was also the director of the film. Troy tells the story of the Trojan Warfare that took place in the late 12th century. The film was nominated for several awards and won three of them. The film crew explained that the storyline was borrowed from two pieces of literature: “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” both poems by Homer, to create the intense war between the Trojans and the Achaeans. The film has an interesting plot.

One can argue that the character selection was fit for the movie as the lead actors delivered the plot well. This essay analyzes the film in its entirety, suggesting that the film is worth watching. The cinematography, plot, and character development proved crucial to the success of the film.

Summary

The film begins with a war between the armies of Mycenae and Thessaly (Paul 73). Single combat is announced, and Achilles from Mycenae is challenged by a Thessaly warrior. Achilles easily wins the combat. Elsewhere, two princes from Troy negotiate a peace treaty with the King of Sparta to end the war. However, one of the princes of Troy, Paris, is having an affair with the Queen of Sparta. Upon realizing this, the King seeks help from his elder brother, Agamemnon, and the peace treaty is abandoned.

Together with his brother, the King of Sparta manages to convince Achilles to fight for them. Achilles joins the Spartan army as one of their leaders. Meanwhile, in Troy, the King of Troy is frustrated by his son’s actions. He understands the consequences of the affair and prepares his army for war. He is informed that Achilles will be fighting with the Spartans, but he has confidence that his son, Hector, will also lead his army well.

The Spartan army manages to capture a high priestess, Briseis, during the battle (Andrew 71). The Spartan army decides to use the priestess for their own pleasure. Achilles is not impressed by how his fellow soldiers treat the lady, and he decides to save her. In the middle of the night, the lady goes to Achilles’s tent, intending to kill him. She, too, had heard of the great warrior and knew killing him would ensure Troy’s victory.

However, she falls in love with the warrior and cannot go ahead with the plan. During the battle the next day, Achilles younger cousin is fatally wounded by Hector, the second Prince of Troy (Winkler 17). Hector is remorseful as he aimed to kill Achilles and not a young soldier. Achilles vows to seek revenge for his cousin’s death and kills Hector in single combat. He further takes Hector’s body back to the beach where the Spartan army had built its camp. One of the Trojan warriors visits Achilles and begs him to return the prince’s body for proper burial.

The war is suspended for 12 days so that the prince can be buried. However, during the 12 days, the Spartan army builds a large wooden Trojan horse. The horse is hollow inside and can fit a majority of the Spartan soldiers. Agamemnon sends a message to the King of Troy through Briseis, stating that they were tired of the war and would be leaving. To deceive the Trojan army, they hide their ships and enter the wooden Trojan horse they had built. The horse is then delivered to the King. Unknowingly, the King agrees to display the horse in the middle of the town. At this point, the Spartan army rushes out of the horse and kills many Trojans. They have taken the city.

As the fight continues, Achilles tries to reunite with his lover, Briseis. He manages to catch up with her, but before they can escape, Paris shoots Achilles in his heel and back. Paris forces Briseis to run away with him and the few remaining Trojans. Achilles watches them, but he is fatally wounded. He lies on the ground watching as the fight continues.

Review

The plot of the film is very interesting. As stated, the story was borrowed from two poems of a similar war by Homer. One can argue that the combination of two pieces of literature into a movie could not have been done better. Additionally, not only is the storyline interesting, but it still captures Homer’s original idea in both poems. Three main elements can be used to review the film. The three elements are the actors and actresses, music and sound, and cinematography.

Arguably, the production crew selected some of the best actors and actresses for the different roles in the film. Brad Pitt plays Achilles while Orlando Bloom plays Paris, the prince of Troy. Other actors and actresses include Diane Kruger, Brian Cox, Rose Byrne, and Sean Bean. The actors and actresses were not only able to deliver the plot but could also convince the viewer of their commitment to their specific roles. From the passionate relationships between Achilles and Briseis, and even Paris and the Queen of Sparta, to the action-packed fighting scenes, the actors manage to convince the viewer that their feelings and the choices they made at those different times were unavoidable.

It is important to mention that the war scenes were carefully acted out to portray a real-life scenario. Secondly, the music and sound used went hand-in-hand with the storyline. As Haines notes, much of the music used was composed specifically for the film (11). The composer Gabriel Yared was hired to produce all the music used in the movie. Additionally, the talented Tanja Carovska, Josh Groban, and Cynthia Weil were incorporated in one way or another in the creation of the music that was used.

The cinematography is impeccable. The producer used mixed camera work with both short and long shots to fully tell the story. Much of the film is shot in natural light, making it that more believable. More so, the producers did not use green rooms but rather settled for actual sceneries. The film was shot in Mexico and the United Kingdom. Keating notes that the environment or surroundings used in films have to be in sync with the time setting of the movie (16).

Since the film is set up in the late 12th century, it was crucial for the producers also to get similar surroundings. On the same note, the outfits the characters wore enhanced the feeling of realness for the viewer. The clothes were indeed designed with the late 12th-century fashion in mind. In the same breath, special effects were used to enhance some scenes, particularly the war scenes. Both slow and fast motion was used to enhance the said scenes.

It is arguable that the character development in the film is enhanced both by the talented actors and actresses and the plot. Branigan notes that successful films allow characters to include a few of their personal traits into their characters (21). In the case of Troy, Brad Pitt, who plays Achilles, has been described as a positive person who believes highly that things always work out for the best. Achilles personality is the same in the film. It is for this reason that he agrees to fight for the Spartan army despite not being from Sparta. Such inclusions of personal traits into characters make them believable.

Criticism

Despite its huge success, the film was criticized on several fronts. First, critics have categorically stated that it is difficult for viewers to empathize with the characters. One can argue that this is because it is difficult to pick out the bad and the good people in the film. It is also not clear if Achilles is the antagonist or the protagonist. Branigan argues that it is critical for producers and scriptwriters to have clearly defined antagonists and protagonists (23). The main reason behind this being that viewers often relate to characters in films based on their own interpretation of the plot and the situations the characters find themselves in.

Also, the film was criticized for individual performances of the actors and actresses. Orlando Bloom, who played Prince Paris, was described as weak and unfit for the role. Analyzing Paris using his actions and the script, one could argue that he is a conniving and sly individual. However, Bloom does not bring this out but appears a bit shy and quiet. Some critics have accused the film of taking an immoral view of the story. Indeed, many films about Greek mythology have been accused of the same. Nudeness, egoistical main characters, and submissive female characters are portrayed in the film. Additionally, the fact that women (in the film) were defined by their gender has also been criticized. In response, one can argue that the role of women in wars was not as advanced in the 12th century as it is today.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the film Troy, which was released in 2004, is worth watching. The film tells the story of the Trojan War between Spartans and the people of Troy. The war was necessitated by Prince Paris’, a prince of Troy, affair with the Queen of Sparta. The production team used special effects to enhance the war scenes making them believable. Additionally, other cinematography elements such as the use of both long and short camera works and the use of natural light also contributed to the success of the film.

The film received international acclaim but was also criticized in several aspects. For instance, the fact that there is no clear antagonist or protagonist is confusing. The viewer cannot easily relate to any of the characters as well. Additionally, the role of women in the film was also criticized. Despite the criticism, the cinematography, music and sound, and the actors and actresses all played a vital role in the success of the film. The movie is recommendable to others due to its high-quality camera work, strong storyline, and great performances by the actors and actresses.

Works Cited

Andrew, Elliot. Return of the Epic Film: Genre, Aesthetics and History in the Twenty-First Century. Edinburgh University Press, 2014.

Branigan, Edward. Narrative Comprehension and Film. Routledge, 2013.

Haines, John. Music in Films on the Middle Ages: Authenticity vs. Fantasy. Routledge, 2013.

Keating, Patrick. Cinematography. Library of Congress, 2014.

Paul, Joanna. Film and the Classical Epic Tradition. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Winkler, Martin. Return to Troy: New Essays on the Hollywood Epic. Brill, 2015.

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