I finally saw the movie Troy. It was a mixed experience. I had steeled myself not to consider this a movie version of the Iliad and to think of it as named, say, “Cleveland.” Looked at that way, the movie was….ok. It had a few good moments (the meeting between “Priam” and “Achilles,” some of the battle scenes), but overall it was still not equal to the story line imposed on it by, well, the Iliad. It stripped out all of the things that motivated men to fight: the thirst for immortality through glory, respect for the Gods, eros. Instead, only a few old men believe in the Gods and the rest thirst for geopolitical power or (like “Hector” and “Achilles”) are cynical about such matters and believe that power is what motivates everyone else. (Some of the odd little twists were annoying, such as the scene at the “Port of Sparta,” since Sparta was landlocked, and the turning of Briseis into Hector’s cousin and of Patroklus into Achilles’ cousin.)
My friend Conyers Davis, with whom I saw the film, forwarded to me the link to the best review of the film I’ve seen, by Daniel Mendelsohn in the New York Review of Books. Mendelsohn is obviously well educated in the classics and knows a lot about film. His review is spot on.
P.S. I learned recently from my colleague David Boaz the definition of an interesting word: millihelen. It’s a unit of measurement, to wit, the face necessary to launch one ship.