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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stellan Skarsgård is Theseus :)

- Theseus and Helen

I so like Greek history, philosophy, art, plays, and mythology, so when I saw this movie at the library, I picked it up. Helen of Troy is a 2003 television miniseries based on the Iliad. Shot in Malta, it stars Sienna Guillory (Inkheart), Rufus Sewell (Dark City), Matthew Marsden, John Rhys-Davies, and Stellan Skarsgård.

Most movies made about the Trojan War, like Troy, are told from the the point of view of the Greeks, following the Iliad .....

The Iliad (sometimes referred to as the Song of Ilion or Song of Ilium) is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege, the earlier events, such as the gathering of warriors for the siege, the cause of the war and similar, tending to appear near the beginning, and the events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' looming death and the sack of Troy, prefigured and alluded to more and more vividly approaching the end of the poem, making the poem tell a more or less complete tale of the Trojan War.

But this movie is told from Helen's point of view, from her youth in Sparta when she's kidnapped by Theseus, to her forced marriage to Menelaus, Agamemnon's brother, to her meeting and running away to Troy with Paris, with whom she'd been in love since seeing a vision of him as a girl, to the destruction of Troy. The story is a pretty sad one - the triumph of military power and one man's obsession (Agamemnon's) over and against true love - neither Troy, nor Paris and Helen, ever have a real chance but are doomed, thanks to the goddesses Paris offended.

I think the film is worth a watch - the acting is ok, the sets, costumes, locations are interesting, and it really makes events from long long ago in a region far far away come alive. Here below is a clip from the movie (you can watch the whole thing on YouTube). The clip shows the young shepherd Paris coming to Troy to retrieve a bull he raised which had been stolen by the King of Troy's men to be the prize in a tournament. He seems to be a country bumpkin, but he's actually a prince of Troy .... when he was born, it was prophesied that if the baby lived, he'd be the destruction of Troy. The king told a servant to kill the baby bu instead he exposed him on Mount Ida, whence he was found by a shepherd who raised him as his son and named him Paris ... only when Paris defeats everyone in the tournament, including Prince Hector, is it revealed to all, as well as to himself, who he he truly is ...


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