Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Troy

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

TROY

7/10

USA (“UK-Malta”) 2003 : Wolfgang PETERSEN : 162 mins

1,200 B.C.: war breaks out between the Greeks and the Trojans. The conflict is triggered when Trojan prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) absconds with Helen (Diane Kruger), wife of King Menelaus of Sparta (Brendan Gleeson). Helen and Paris are welcomed by Paris’s father, the elderly King Priam (Peter O’Toole) but soon Menelaus’s brother King Agamenon of Mycenea (Brian Cox) leads his armies to attack the impregnable walled city Troy. Their initial efforts are quite easily repelled, but the arrival on the scene of renegade Greek uber-warrior Achilles (Brad Pitt) threatens to swing the momentum the other way. First, however, Achilles must deal with the Trojans’ hero, Hector (Eric Bana)…

Sean Bean in TroyBenioff’s loose adaptation of Homer’s The Iliad is a square, old-fashioned sword-and-sandal epic in the Gladiator vein. There are some serious flaws: chiefly the incessant, bombastic score from James (Titanic) Horner. The screenplay is OK at best, dotted with substandard dialogue, let down by some nebulous storytelling and moments of unintentional absurdity. Despite all of this, Troy works better than anyone could reasonably have expected, given the Hollywood-blockbusterishness of the whole enterprise. If nothing else, it brings together a set of engaging and entertaining performances from Cox, Gleeson, O’Toole and Bana which are likely to stand as definitive for these particular roles. The feel of the film is suitably epic – it could and should perhaps have been even longer – and the end result is a largely rousing and persuasive re-imagining of what is, after all, one of the greatest tales.

18th May, 2004
(seen 17th May : UGC, Middlesbrough : press show)

click here for Neil Young’s epic-length essay on Defending Troy

Alternatively click here for Sheila Seacroft’s ‘Whatever Happened to the Heroes?‘ essay – a classical perspective on Troy

by Neil Young