First I watched Troy because everybody said Alexander totally sucked and when I accidentally watched Alexander on a drizzly Saturday afternoon with nothing better to do, I found Alexander not to be as bad as the scathing reviews had led me to believe. Tedious in some parts (have you watched Apocalypse Now? Now THAT’S tedious!!) but in others completely riveting. Alexander got me to start watching Collin Farrell after my initial queasiness from all the discussions about how big his penis was and what he did to his wife in a sex video and I found Farrell in The Phone Booth, The Recruit and especially Tigerland to be a better actor than I had hoped.
Troy has brought me back to Brad Pitt. I had forgotten it was Brad I watched Seven for, gave the light of day to Fight Club because Pitt was in it and then I happened to watch Seven Years in Tibet. Oh woe was me! Fall from grace! That was beginning of the end of our acquaintance. Shacking up with Jennifer Anniston, lousy actress from a lousier TV series Friends was definitely it for me with Pitt. Not even Mr. and Mrs.Smith could help us. I thought I would never watch another Brad Pitt movie again. I watched Troy totally unaware Brad Pitt was in it (it’s true!). I wanted a fuss over, I think I have begun another instead.
Some years from now, people will watch Troy and realise Achilles was probably Brad Pitt’s best role. Pitt makes Troy. If Pitt can make such a comeback maybe all the old guards like Val Kilmer ( Tombstone(1993), this guy should have acted Arthur Rimbaud) can make one more comeback and maybe, just maybe, hopefully Macy Gray can release another album as hot as On How Life Is all these years later still is.
And for people always crapping about how movies truncate classic books in the translation to the screen, Troy is one of the rarer movies that stuck more closely to Homer's Iliad on which Troy is based than most. And yes, I know Troy dumped the bickering gods from the plot but even in the Iliad, I found them boring and unnecessary. Usually skipped those parts.
But perhaps the best thing about Troy was how slyly the director retained actually word for word what the characters say in the Iliad and had many film critics making an ass of themselves condemning Troy as a badly written film! Every major character has quotables but Achilles is my favourite with droppers like, “I'll tell you a secret. Something they don't teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again,” proving to Briseis (Rose Byrne)that he is no “dumb bird” right before one of the most discreet and sweet love scenes you’ll see at the movies.
Then there are the fights. Achilles in battle... Brad Pitt as Achilles in battle is a beautiful merciless blond god of war with a terrifying bloodlust. The surprise and delight is to find none of this glossed over and how closely the Iliad was followed. Like in the Iliad, Achilles fighting Hector, this is how it goes,
“So he mused and stood his ground, while Achilles drew near; the armour upon him shone like flaming fire. Hector trembled to see him. He could stand no longer but took flight, and Peleides was upon him with a leap: Hector fled swiftly under the walls of Troy and Peleides flew after him furiously. They passed the look-out and the wind-beaten fig tree, keeping ever away from the wall along the cartroad, until they reached the two fountains. One is a spring of hot water, one even in summer is cold as hail or snow.
So far they came in their race, fleeing and pursuing, a strong man fleeing and a far stronger man in pursuit: they ran hard, for Hector’s life was the prize of this race, not such prizes as men run for, a beast or an ox-hide shield. Thrice round the city of Priam they ran. All the gods were watching.
Achilles was now following at full speed and gave Hector no chance. If Hector going by the road made a dash at the city gates, hoping his friends might help him with a volley from the walls above, Achilles would cut in before him, turning him back towards the open ground. It was like some race in a dream, where once chases another, and he cannot catch or the other escape.
He drew the sword that hung by his side, gathered himself and sprang. Achilles moved to meet him, covering his chest with the resplendent shield while the thick golden plumes nodded upon his helmet. His right hand held poised the great spear; he scanned Hector with ruthless heart, to see where the white flesh gave the best opening for a blow. Hector was well covered, but an opening showed where the collar bones join the neck to the shoulder, the gullet. There Achilles aimed, and the point went through the soft neck; but it did not cut the windpipe, and Hector could still speak.” But he spoke no more much longer.