Homer vs. Hollywood

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“The film ‘Troy’ is based on Homer’s ‘Iliad’. Homer’s estate should sue.” Using the film and other sources assess this statement. The 2004 film ‘Troy’ directed by Wolfgang Peterson claims to have been inspired by the famous Iliad, written by ancient Greek poet, Homer. It has been suggested that due to these claims, Homer’s estate has the right to begin legal proceedings against the film’s producers in the name of copyright. While the concept of the statement “The film ‘Troy’ is based on Homer’s ‘Iliad’. Homer’s estate should sue.” seems fairly simple, the legalities involved with actually taking legal action against the filmmakers are highly complicated and the issues that may arise are rather plentiful. The anachronisms, historical inaccuracies and obvious differences from the Iliad have caused commotion amongst movie-goers and members of the historical community alike and the fact that these issues can be interpreted as “the visual Iliad” has been dubbed “an insult to Homer and his works.” However, as with most creative works, certain allowances are made in the name of ‘poetic licence’. Copyright laws are in place to protect authors and composers when it comes to securing the integrity of their creative works. Copyright laws cover literary, musical, dramatic, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, audiovisual works, sound recordings, compilations, architectural works and works derived from any of these either by the author or with the authors permission. Greece however is still struggling to make definitive laws regarding copyright which comply with the European Union which is proving to be an ever increasing issue for the country in terms of plagiarism and piracy. As there are no proper laws regarding the use of Greek works, technically speaking it would be incredibly difficult to gain anything from suing those who created the film ‘Troy’. The same difficulties would apply if American copyright laws were used in the case as copyrights in the US do have an expiry date. Copyrighted works in the USA are guaranteed and extended term of protection covering 70 years after the death of the author or composer. So even if the US copyright laws were those consulted, it would still be incredibly pointless in trying to win this case unless of course the rights to the Iliad and any works by Homer had been bequeathed in wills from Homer’s death until now and the copyright constantly renewed over the years. The film ‘Troy’ has been criticized for the statement in the credits “Inspired by the Iliad” primarily because there are so many features within the film that do not appear how they are described in Homer’s poem. Many historical inaccuracies exist within the film too. Things such as the noble women of Troy wearing jewelry which is incredibly similar to the ‘Treasures of Priam’ which were discovered by Heinrich Schliemann and later proved to have belonged to a time well before the suggested time of the Trojan Wars. Although, with that being said, it isn’t totally unlikely that the jewelry had been passed down and still worn by women in the time of the war. Dr. James Holoka, Professor of Foreign Languages and History at Eastern Michigan University compiled a list of the issues he found with the movie. He then split the list into the ‘Big Ticket Items’ such as the time of Achilles’ death and the fate of many of the main characters and the ‘Minor Details’ which included some anachronistic features like the funeral proceedings shown in the film and the armour and weaponry used by the warriors. There are reasons behind the errors in the film, the biggest being that the audience had to be able to recognise and understand the images they were seeing and the dialogue they were hearing. At the time of the Trojan War, Greece as we know it did not exist and so the men fighting in that war were not Greek but for the purpose of the general public being able to grasp the concept of...
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