By KATE DOCTOR
I have never read “The Illiad” all the way through, but I do know what happens and what it is about. Summaries and sections of the text tend to fill in the gaps for me, so I have a pretty basic understanding of the story line, who dies, who lives and who wins. So when I went to see the movie “Troy” featuring Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom, I approached it like I usually would when I was going to see a movie based on a book. I tend to get horribly critical of movies based on books because a lot of the time the movie manipulates the story line, or the general theme of the story. When this is the case with a movie, I sit there for the duration of the film grumbling to myself.
I was quickly dissuaded from approaching “Troy” in this manner, though. The movie doesn’t quite follow the same story line as the book, but the major themes that are in the book are invoked in the movie.
“Troy” is based on “The Iliad,” as explained before, and follows the story of Achilles and a few other parties, primarily Hector. It starts out with an opening narration, talking about the vastness of eternity and wondering, “Will our actions echo across the centuries?” I kept this phrase in mind throughout the film, as it seemed to be a recurring ideal that is emphasized by many characters, primarily Achilles.
To give a brief summary of “Troy” without giving too much away (unless you’ve already read “The Iliad”), it tells the story of Paris (of Troy) going with his brother, Hector, to negotiate peace with the Spartan king, Menelaus. It’s all fine until Paris smuggles Menelaus’ wife, Helen, with him back to Troy. Obviously Menelaus doesn’t like that his wife has been stolen, so he goes to his brother, Agamemnon, and asks him to go to war with Troy. Agamemnon had been trying for years to invade Troy, so he takes advantage and accepts his brother’s proposal.
Odysseus, king of Ithaca, goes to convince Achilles to fight in the war. Achilles feels conflicted about this, so he goes to see his mother Thetis. She tells him that she knew that this day would come, even from when Achilles was a baby. Achilles has two choices. He could choose to stay away from the war and live a long, happy life, taking a wife and having children, but his name would be forgotten. Or, he could choose to fight in the war, to attain great glory and die young. In this case, his name would be written in history. Achilles chooses to go to war, wanting his name to be remembered.
This decision Achilles makes seems to correlate with the line from the opening narration mentioned above. He wants to be remembered, wants to make life worth it. In Greek religion, I learned, after you died you didn’t really go anywhere better. So the idea was to make life worth it, to decide what you want to leave behind when you die. In Achilles’ case, he wants to leave his name and glory behind, to be remembered by history rather than forgotten and live a happy life. To him, a life worth living is one where he is remembered long after death.
Overall, I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes Greek mythology or just enjoys a good action flick. It has a little bit of everything, and I enjoyed every minute of it.