Was "Troy" the Movie Accurate According to Homer

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  • Topic: Trojan War, Iliad, Achilles
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Was "Troy" the Movie Accurate According to Homer?

Did the movie Troy, released in 2004, accurately depict the story of Homer's epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey, and was it a good movie from a critical point of view? I think it was a good movie from an entertainment standpoint, but it fell short in it's comparison to Homer's epics. As a fan of "epic" movies, I have watched the movie Troy a couple of times. In comparing the movie to the epic, there are various discrepancies between the two. First I'll address the overall flow of the movie, in other words the organization and coherence of the movie.

The movie Troy was a lavishly produced movie, often quoted as a "Blockbuster", it was a movie with a large budget and big name actors. But was it accurate? The time period involved with the legend of Troy is basically attributed to around 1334 – 1184 BC depending upon several individuals who chronicled events in that area. Many believe the excavations at the site discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in 1871 are of the city of Troy. If true, this excavation dates the burning of Troy to around 1200 BC time which is close to the traditional date of 1184 BC generally associated with the siege of Troy. So how did the movie reflect these times? Was their presentation of weapons, ships, clothing and such accurate?

"Homer's warriors are often described as being heavily armoured with bronze (Iliad 5.698, 13.372, 14.383), while the epithet commonly used to describe them collectively is ‘bronze-armoured Achaians' (Iliad 1.371, 3.131, 10.287). The regimented figures depicted on the Warrior Vase (LH IIIb/c), found by Schliemann at Mycenae are the best representations of warriors from the Trojan War period. The bearded warriors wear plumed horned helmets, body armour and greaves, and carry shields that are round except for a scallop on the bottom; they are armed with short spears." (Mycenaean)

Based upon the excavations at the site attributed to Troy, the clothing (Armor) and the weapons used within the movie appear fairly accurate. Brad Pitt and Eric Bana as Achilles and Hector both wear bronze and leather based armor and use weapons which are similar in look and appearance to the bronze weapons of 1184 BC. This was also the start of the Iron Age, so slightly darker weapons (mainly spears) make their appearance also.

The ships used by the Greek army in their trip from Menelaus' kingdom were triremes which were the multi-decked and rowed military ship of the day as shown in the movie. Overall the movie seemed to follow the historical path of weapon evolution and nothing from later dates was thrown in to make it more "exciting" except maybe the shields. It was difficult to tell from the movie, but most shields of the time period were several layers of stretched animal hides. The shields in the movie appeared to be metal. Also apparent (and admitted to by the producers) was the scale of the city. The buildings and statuary are generally regarded as a feasible look for the period; however "the movie enlarged the building and statues for the sake of making things more dramatic in appearance". (Troy)

The personalities and depictions of the characters in the movie had to be "interpreted" by the actors. The main characters are presented in a manner that is accurate is some places and seemingly exaggerated in others place for the period. Overall, the ruthlessness and brutality of the warfare of this time was pretty accurate considering this is a movie and you can't actually kill people. So the acting was very important in conveying this type of battle. The Iliad itself describes characters such as Achilles, Ajax and Patroclus as formidable and fearless warriors. The actors therefore had to present this image and convey the attitude of superiority and ruthlessness of the time. I was a little disappointed in the Achilles and Patroclus characters. Neither character appeared...
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