Directed By: John Kent Harrison
Produced By: Ted Kurdyla
Written By: Ronni Kern
Sienna Guillory as Helen
Matthew Marsden as Paris
John Rhys-Davies as King Priam of Troy
Emilia Fox as Cassandra, Princess of Troy
Rufus Sewell as Agamemnon
Stellan Skarsgård as Theseus
Joe Montana as Achilles
Katie Blake as Clytemnestra
Craig Kelly as Pollux
Manuel Cauchi as Paris’ Father
Kristina Paris as Iphigenia
Music By: Joel Goldsmith
Cinematography: Edward J. Pai
Editing By: Michael D. Ornstein
Distributed By: Universal Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 20, 2003
Running Time: 177 minutes
Movie Classification: Miniseries
Helen of Troy is a 2003 television miniseries based upon Homer's story of the Trojan War, as recounted in the epic poem, Iliad. This TV miniseries also shares the name with a 1956 movie starring Stanley Baker. It stars Sienna Guillory as Helen, Matthew Marsden as Paris, Rufus Sewell as Agamemnon, James Callis as Menelaus, John Rhys-Davies as Priam, Mary am d'Abo as Hecuba, and Stellan Skarsgård as Theseus. The series was entirely shot on location in the islands of Malta.
The film is placed in the early classical period rather than the correct late Bronze Age; the Greeks are shown with Iron Age classical hoplite dress and arms. Made on a relatively low budget, Helen of Troy was released at a time when interest in the subject was high due to the soon-to-be-released Troy.
The film also focuses more on the life of Helen herself rather than simply the Trojan War. The entire first half deals with Helen's life before Troy, and includes a number of mythological facts that other versions either gloss over or omit, such as Helen's abduction by Theseus and the actual agreement of the Greek kings to use her marriage as their peace agreement.
In contrast to Troy (which was roughly based on the Iliad which itself only depicts some of the events of the final year of the war), the film tells much of the story of the War. Most notably, Helen of Troy features and discusses the intervention of the gods (the film's opening scene shows Hera, Athena and Aphrodite at the Judgment of Paris) as written by Homer. This does not mean, however, that it is more accurate, as a number of the characters (namely Paris, as stated above), do not resemble their Homeric counterparts. Both films feature the interpretation of Agamemnon as a power-hungry tyrant, although this Helen of Troy adds a new dimension by addressing Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter Iphigeneia to the gods.
The film begins with the birth of Paris, and Cassandra's prophecy that he would be the cause of Troy's destruction. Worried, his father King Priam leaves him on Mount Ida, where he is found and raised by the shepherd Agelaus. When he is an adult, he judges Aphrodite as the fairest of the three goddesses, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. After awarding her the golden apple she promises him the love of Helen of Sparta, the most beautiful woman in the world.
Meanwhile in Sparta, Helen sees in a pool Paris's judgement, and happily accepts his choice of her love. She later meets the Mycenaean King, Agamemnon, who has come to claim her sister, Clytemnestra, as his bride, but is also immediately taken by her attractiveness. During the wedding, Helen is kidnapped by two Athenians, Theseus, and his friend Pirithous. They take her to Athens, where Helen falls for Theseus, before her brother Pollux raids Athens and kills him. As he is dying, Theseus stabs Pollux. In Sparta, Helen's father Tyndareus rages at his daughter, blaming her for losing his heir. He presents her to the many suitors who seek her hand, bidding them to do as they wish.
The suitors draw lots after swearing an oath suggested by clever Odysseus that if anyone disrespect her husband's claims to her, they should unite and wage war against him. Odysseus...