Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Saw troy over the weekend. It was not such a bad movie as it was made out to be. My parents, aunt & uncle accompanied me for the movie. We started at 9:50 for the 10:00 clk show. Given that Sathyam theatre road is congested even at midnight. I didnt have a hope of making it to the movie before start time.

But lucky me! The movie start was delayed by 10 minutes and I could see the movie from the start.

Troy is a movie based on the legendary poem by Homer called "Illiad". Homer wrote two poems. One is based on Greece's 10 year war with Troy. The other describes the adventures of Odysseus. We would have read snippets of this poem in our Gulmohar textbooks and other "non-detail" books. The actual poem is pretty big.

Achilles is pronounced differently from the way I had imagined it. ( the 'ch' pronounced the way 'ch' is pronounced in technology) Something like Acki-lees. I expected 'ch' to be prnounced the traditional way like "cheers".

Okay more on that later. "Achilles heel" is a popular phrase used in english to denote a weakness. Like "loose outside-the-off-stump game is Laxman's achilles heel". In this movie we really find out why that term came about.

The dialogs are the best part of the movie. They are Pithy and cut real hard. The audience were completely glued to this 3+ hour movie. The main reason were the powerful dialogs.

In the movie "helen of troy", which I saw some 15 years ago, Achilles and Hectors were shown as greek gods ( Homer imagned them to be so). they went about their business proteecting their land and honor like it was there Karma. Things were black and white. Here Wolfgang Peterson gives Achilles and Hector a Psycological complexity. Another dimension is added to the movie. It does two things to the movie (a) It gives a sort of cynical look to the way the movie perceives war (b) it shows achilles to be a sort of a semi-moron a war-geek and shows him less noble than Hector.

Achilles was not a moron. He was a mighty warrior, the movie calls him the greatest warrior of all time, who fought for greece and its people and not for its Kings. Much like our beloved Bheeshma Pithaama. He is a war-geek. He is an expert in hand-to-hand combat. But he is essential a Greek God, possibly with super human powers.

This movie reduces Achilles to human levels in many places. The gains derived is probably less that the negatives. Achilles sneers at Agemenmon (the greek king of kings). Agemenmon is a king who uses his mighty warriors to plunder lands and win battles. He receives the accolades for all the victories. Achilles says at one point " for once I would like to see the king win his own battles". Very true! you would expect the leader to lead by example, but then you dont have Project Managers coding for you do you?

The perverted mind that rules my head saw many parallels between Troy and my daily life. When Agemenmon receives bouquets and accolades for a war Achilles won single handedly, Achilles walks into Agemenmons victory party and sarcastically sneers " So you seem to have won some big victory. tell me about it". Given that many Project Managers receive hikes, promotions and appreciation letters for projects executed by poor engineers. I would like to ask some PM what problems and coding decisions he solved to actually finish the project succesfully. When the king calls Achilles for a one-on-one, Odysseus politely warns him " you know war! young men die and old men talk". Yup thats life. young men sweat and Old people earn.

The world is divided into people who actually do work and the people who pretend to supervise other people doing work. The gap between the two factions is getting wider. Supervisors, managers are becoming as irrelevant as kings who cant fight. Might warriors and coders will forever look down upon them. Anyway back to Troy. Achilles despises the weak king and fights the battles purely for personal glory and for the people of Greece. He is an independent warrior. ( battles are sort of outsourced to him).

The movie begins when Paris the prince of Troy seduces Helen, the queen of a greece kingdom, when on a peace misson to sparta. Hector Paris's elder brother is also on this peace misson and is a silent spectator as he watches Paris run along and "do" it with the queen every night. Helen's husband, Melanus, the king of sparta, meanwhile is in one orgy or another. Helen, according to Homer has beauty that canot be compared to the beauty of any living being. She is described to have "a face that launched a thousand ships". Helen looks beautiful in this movie. A few nude scenes doesnt hurt either :-)

The king is abviously upset that his wife has eloped with a Trojan weakling. His manhood is hurt and he calls upon his brother Agemenmon to wage war against Troy. Agemenmon who has been waiting to invade Troy calls all his great warriors(including Achilles) to invade Troy.

Hector gets the most powerful role in the movie. Eric Bana is excellent as Hector. Everybody in the theater seem to be on Hectorss side and pray that history repeats itself differently, in the duel between Hector or Achilles. Its a mighty duel and the scene comes off very well.

Peter'O'Toole, the legendary actor does a small and wonderful cameo. The scene where he kisses Achilles hands is taken very well and given the time and moment it deserves. Peter O Toole's dialogs are also excellent. He says " Achilles! I am kissing the hands of the man who killed my son. Something I never dreamt. I know your father Achilles. He was a nice man. But he was lucky not to have lived long to see his son die. Please return my sons body so that I can give him a prince's funeral."

Apart from this scene the , Paris duel with Melanus is very well taken.

This movie, and all the other movie versions of troy, err by subtly supporting the Trojans. No matter how balanced this movie appears to be it ends up supporting Trojans. The truth is both were at fault. Paris shouldn't have eloped with the queen (even if she came voluntarily). Hector shouldn't have slayed Melanus or Achilles's cousin. The Trojans were stupid enough to attack Greeks when they were retreating and even more stupid to drag the horse into Troy.

One last word about Sathyam theatre. I have been to so many theatres but rarely does one get to see a theater thats as good as Sathyam. Be it size, quality of sound or anything. Sathyam rocks! Devi comes second but Sathyam still rocks!


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Laila said...

Achilles is a "war-geek"? rofl...that's an interesting way to put it.
I didn't like the movie much because it wasn't really based on fact. Achilles had very little to do with the fall of troy if you read the Iliad. He is much more of a minor character.
Furthermore, this story blames women for war. Helen is given the same image as Eve, as a temptress. To me, it just insults the intelligence of men- as if Paris thought more with his balls than with his brains. Helen was not really the reason for the war at all...