Saturday, June 28, 2014


Disappointing in many ways.


The Iliad and Achilles have always been fascinating mirrors to the western mind. This rather short version of the Trojan War is done for a popular audience and it shows. It is also done for a modern audience and it has to be short. It sure is shortened.

We could list all the essential events that are missing from the human sacrifice of Agamemnon’s daughter by Agamemnon himself to get from the “Gods” a favorable wind to go to war. And the “Gods” did not substitute a goat or a ram to Iphigenia as another “God” will do when Abraham was going to sacrifice his own son, though we will never know if it was Isaac or Ishmael, since there are two versions running around, one behind the other, both trying to catch their own tails in their own teeth. Human sacrifice is part of humanity, has been and will be as long as wars and the death penalty exist. The Celts burned the guilty alive in baskets hanging from trees. The Romans dipped people in boiling oil or crucified them along the roads. The medieval church burned witches and wizards at the stake, or fried homosexuals in a frying pan with oil in France, or grilled homosexuals on a grill without any oil at all in England. And what about these marvelous death penalties that do not work or take a long time to be effective in our modern civilized countries? We regret a great show like in England under kings and queens up to Elizabeth I when a convicted criminal would be drawn by horses to the Bartholomew Fair ground on the day before the Bartholomew Fair to be hanged there but not to death, brought down, drawn in the meaning of eviscerated, quartered and finally beheaded, the head being picked by the hair and directed at the joyful gleeful crowd because the brain and the eyes can see up to seven seconds after the beheading, so that the guilty victim can see the people rejoicing at his or her death.

This film is very clean indeed.

The film is also totally silent on the enormous stake of this war. They reduce it to power for Agamemnon. That’s short. Troy controlled the main Indo-European route from Iran to Europe through Anatolia. That was one of the two immigrating routes that produced our modern Europe. Along this route came all kinds of goods but also knowledge like cattle raising and agriculture and metal industry (or what it was at that very beginning of the metal civilization) and religion. The Greeks wanted to take the control of this commercial and cultural circulation to Europe to make a profit on it. That is not power, that is commercial dictatorship.

The film is totally silent on the fact that the beautiful Greek religion was in the process at the time the Iliad was being written of integrating some religious and cultural elements of the people who had been in Europe since 50,000 years ago and who represent 75-80% of modern European DNA, viz. the Turkic population known as Cro-Magnon or the Gravettians, and some others still known today as the Basques. By reducing the historical stake of the Iliad and Ancient Greece, we can forget about the fact that the Indo-Europeans conquered the whole of Europe with what will never be more than a 20% minority in Europe.

What saves the film then?

In fact only two actors: Brad Pitt as Achilles and Peter O’Toole as Priam. The others are secondary and most of them mediocre. Brad Pitt gives some taste to the story, though of course the particular relation between him and his cousin Patroclus is entirely unrevealed and he even appears as a gallant person who saves a virgin teenage woman from the grubby and dirty hands of soldiers. On the other hand Peter O’Toole gives Priam the dignity and the force this old king must have had to have to be able to go and beg for the body of his own son killed in fair fight by Achilles.

The famous Trojan horse is also a nice character and the trick is surprising in the fact that it worked, at least so does the legend have it.

Finally we could say the film insists a little bit too much on couples of brothers. The two Greek Brothers, Agamemnon and Menelaus on the Greek side and the two Trojan brothers Hector and Paris on the Trojan side. And all that for a woman, Helen, who was married to an old man, Menelaus, and fell for a more or less young teenager, Paris. But do not expect any love in all that. It is only a question of possession for Menelaus and intercourse for Paris. Helen just has to play the game of satisfying the impulses of the man who possesses her. The film even manages the escape of Andromache, Astyanax, Helen and Paris, more or less and at least. Since Paris has managed to kill Achilles, he is not even a hero and the fugitives are nothing but assassins. In other words the film is doomed to have no morality.

Some beautiful battles and some very impressive ramparts, city walls, palaces and temples, but not much more, and the back side of Brad Piptt a couple of times for the perverse cheese-addicts.

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 
There is no war that can be redeemed
May 29, 2004

There is no war that can be redeemed

This film is a beautiful show though it will not in anyway change the face of the world. It shows that war is a horrible adventure in which motivations are absolutely perverse, perverted and hypocritical. One goes to war for a woman who was stolen from him. Women are nothing but homestead possessions. One goes to war to increase his power by conquering people who resist him.

War is a power game that is won or lost after many deaths of soldiers and civilians who are not supposed to question any point but only to obey. War is blind obedience for the soldiers and blind submission for the civilians. One goes to war for the pleasure of fighting to show his prowess, his courage, his « invincibility » and yet he will be killed in the heart of victory because no one is invincible, no war is a clean parade on an empty boulevard.

Then supplementary motivations appear during the fighting or the discussions and rivalries among chiefs. It is such events, like the killing of a cousin, the manhandling of a prisoner, or any dramatic event, that can change the course of a war and bring into the battle people who wanted to remain neutral. War is a big pot in which spiders and predators are cooking, some enemies, some allies.

Finally most soldiers are going into the war with only one objective: looting and taking advantage of the situation to satisfy their basic and repulsive instincts to hurt, torture, maim and enjoy the barbarity of such acts. Finally a war is always lost in the long run and the victors are vanquished as Handel would say in Alexander's Feast. A few of the princes of Troy will escape and they will create Rome who will eventually conquer Greece and submit them to their power.

History is always a vengeful game if the will, interests and peace of the people are not taken into account. Finally a war can only be won through a genocide : kill all your enemies and you will carry the day. This film is the exposure of war as a crime against humanity. Yet there are in this film a few, very few, but a few nevertheless, scenes that redeem such horror.

The « invincible » Achilles is vanquished by a sudden and unexplainable love that leads him into a mistake and a trap, and there is no escape, no pardon, no tolerance, no considering the honorable actions of before. He is an enemy, so he has to be killed. Everyone will like the Trojan horse immensely that shows a war is always won through perfidy, ruse, deception and the exploitation of the gullibility of the opponents.

Nothing has changed except that we are more conscious and sensitive to crime and perverse actions, and that we have media who will expose any trespassing from some guideline. War is based on lies but the media have the responsibility to expose such lies and when they are exposed the war is lost for the liars who are exposed as such at the same time. Yet the film is short on the real stakes of this war : the control of eastern commercial routes and the danger such a strategic position represents for those who are thus controlled by this commercial power.


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