Final Research Paper.
“Troy” is one of the major blockbusters of 2004, and it is has been proved that its impressive scope and sophistication attract the audience’s attention from the first minutes. In an engaging and accessible style it shows the main events which happened in the life of Greek and Trojan warriors during the Trojan war, and reflects the main reasons of the war, as well as touches upon the relationships of the major characters. Political perspective can often be used by a critic in order to obtain a detailed analysis of an art object, activity, or event. In the case of a historical movie as “Troy”, it appears clear that a political perspective can provide a ground for the analysis of this piece of art. Even though some critics mark that in “Troy”, the war was caused by love and the conflict between Prince Paris and King Menelaus who were fighting for Beautiful Helen, the real reason of the war lies in the greed and desire to invade Troy which remained the last independent kingdom on the Aegean Sea.
The main art-making strategies used by Wolfgang Petersen in making “Troy”, can be analyzed through the prism of the decisions made by major political figures during the war, and their influence on the outcome. In some ways, the director failed to reflect the political burden of the movie, while concentrating on the beauty of the characters more than on their performing, or the sophistication of the battle-scenes’ appearance in the movie. However, the political aspect can is still reflected in “Troy”, and thus it creates interest not only of teenage audience who wants to see Brad Pitt’s muscles, but also of other people.
“Troy” offers an astonishing variety of scenes in which the major political figures carry out decisions which decide the fate of whole nations. On the negative side, there appears Agamemnon (Brian Cox) who unlimited ambitions bring all the Greeks to the land of Troy. He is guided not by the revenge against Trojan Prince Paris for stealing his brother’s wife, but by the desire to invade as many lands as he possibly can, and add them to his kingdom. In order to emphasize this characteristic, Wolfgang Petersen includes the scene in the movie in which Paris fights with Menelaus for Helen in order not to start the war based on a conflict about a woman. However, even though Menelaus gets killed by Hector at the end of the fight, Agamemnon thinks it’s just the start of the war, and the death of his brother doesn’t settle the dispute, for it’s a dispute not about a woman but about power. Agamemnon merely uses his brother’s cuckolding as an excuse for his ambition. In all other scenes throughout the movie, the performance of Brian Cox manages to bring the idea to the audience how little the life of a common warrior is worth for the King Agamemnon whose final goal is conquering new territories and increasing his influence on the Peloponnesus. He does not care about the fate of 40,000 warriors taking part in the battle in which many of them will get killed. In this aspect the grandeur of the battles showed in “Troy” is directed at the audience so that they can realize the cost of a warrior’s life in a major battle: the life of a warrior costs nothing in politics, and the grandeur of the battle reflects the greed for new conquered territories by Agamemnon. If Trojan warriors are just defending their native life and doing their best to rescue their loved ones, Agamemnon’s goal is only destroying and making all of his desires come true. Greek warriors fight not for their country, but only for the fancy of Agamemnon.
The scenes with battles provide a very good ground for showing the grandeur of the war in the name of greed and new conquests. However, as critics mark, the battle scenes aren’t as persuading as they could be in order to attract the attention of the audience, and the producers fail to achieve their main goal in this case. For example, according to Harvey S. Karten, the archers in the movie rarely use their arrows, inflicting great losses, even though one can probably explain how a projectile shot at 45 degrees could harm anyone. When swords are not actively used, the men batter one another senseless with their shields. However, according to the critic, “Troy” joins with “The Longest Day”, “The Last Samurai”, “Ran”, and “Saving Private Ryan” for its in-your-face battles. The flaw of the movie though lies in the banality of the quiet scenes which fail to impress the audience in comparison with the scenes of battles. With the cost of the movie around $175,000,000 the producers could devote more attention to the quiet scenes which could be depicted with more grandeur and more attention. Thus, it appears that most of the action in “Troy” is a sprawling battle sequence after another, with some interruptions for sex scenes in which Brad Pitt participates and funeral pyres, women running around the burning city in hopes to find shelter and some other scenes. In some way, “Gladiator”, “The Last Samurai” and “The Lord of the Rings” battles scenes appear to be much more engaging, and show more sophisticated artwork.
Even though Wolfgang Petersen was doing his best to give as much grandeur to the battle scenes, they fail to attract the audience’s attention in some moments, and oftentimes the actors appear as animatronic wax figures, which also fails to create the right impression. The computer enhanced face-offs between hordes of soldiers feel repetitious and derivative, probably because they were created so much better in the three parts of “The Lord of the Rings” . We can conclude that the spectacular and brutal battle scenes which director Wolfgang Petersen and photographer Roger Pratt were doing their best to stage, appeared much calmer than the original screenplay required. However, music in the movie didn’t disappoint. By Academy Award winner James Horner, the score is breathtaking without ever being overwhelming. 
Harvey S. Karten suggests the major review which covers the political perspective in the analysis of the movie. In his opinion, the principal characters in “Troy” could exist in this world, and the major figures remind us about the political figures which have been deciding the fates of their nations for many years. Harvey S. Karten is sure that a straight line can be drawn from the image of Agamemnon in the movie to the former Chinese leader Mao. This leader once said that even in a war in which 100 millions of Chinese died the country would emerge victorious. Another analogy in the political world suggested by the critic is Japanese Premier Tojo and Emperor Hirohito, who were not convinced to surrender even after 2 atomic bombs fell on their country and made the life of people miserable. Those leaders of the country did not consider a life of a common person worth anything because in their point of view, only the fate of the country itself mattered. In some way, from our point of view this position of the leader is close to Joseph Stalin in Soviet Union who went even further because he ordered to kill his own people for the sake of strengthening the state. However, the major idea is very similar because Agamemnon was just sacrificing his warriors in the battlefield with other nations while Joseph Stalin killed them almost with his own hands during repressions.
The image of noble Achilles is one of the central in the movie, and with the help of this character Wolfgang Petersen had on his mind attracting the major audience. Even though the figure of Achilles (Brad Pitt) carries a very important burden in a political sense, the fact that Brad Pitt was chosen for the role directs the audience’s attention not at him as a political figure but a sex symbol with a handsome face, olive tan, and great muscles. Even though the figure of Achilles cannot be central in the war with Troy because there are still Agamemnon, Priam, Paris, and Hector, the choice of Brad Pitt for the role of Achilles puts him into the center of the plot, and all the main attention gets attracted at him. Achilles is shown as a mighty warrior who prefers glory and death over long quite life in his estate. One of his major characteristics is thirst for revenge (when his brother gets killed, he forgets about his desire to leave the war, about his love, and all he cares about is killing the murderer of his brother). Through the image of Brad Pitt, the producers of the movie easily solve the task of making Achilles the major protagonist, and making the audience believe in his virtue, despite many battles in which he killed many great warriors. In some way, Achilles serves as a weapon in the hands of Agamemnon who is able to bring victory to Greeks, and Agamemnon knows that without Achilles he will not succeed in his greedy fancies. The scene of Achilles getting into Troy inside the Trojan horse just emphasizes this statement, for it’s Achilles who is the first to get into Troy with his warriors, and they are the ones opening the doors for the Greeks, and as a result bringing future victory to them.
According to Harvey S. Karten, the political figure which Achilles reminds of the most is President George W. Bush. If we forget about the big muscles and beautiful blond hair which Achilles is showing throughout the whole movie to attract the attention of the audience, and concentrate only on his character, we can indeed conclude his similarity with George W. Bush. “As played by the Brad Pitt, whose soulful eyes betray a mixture of kindness (toward women) and murderous rage (toward the enemies), he has an attitude, “I’ll-go-it-alone-and-to-Hades-with-the-rest-of-the-world’s-politicians” .
The character of Brad Pitt thus shows his kindness towards the helpless during the whole movie. In the beginning of the movie, when Apollo’s cathedral is ruined by the Greeks, Achilles is the one who protects Polydora (Siri Svegler) from the wrath of the warriors. Unlike other warriors who have a strong desire to rape her and kill her afterwards, he treats her with respect and protects from the wicked warriors. In other episodes of the movie, Achilles rescues her again many times, which proves he has kindness in his heart towards those who cannot protect themselves and are helpless during the war.
In order to emphasize another side of Achilles’ character, the episode with him finding out the news about his brother is introduced to the movie. In that case Achilles, who completely made up his mind not to serve to Agamemnon in this war of greed and return to his native land, finds out about the murder of his brother by Hector, and he turns into a completely different person. Brad Pitt did a great job of showing his characters anger as he leaves Polydora in the tent to weep about him and her brother, and goes to fight with Hector in order to take revenge over him. In some way, this position is close to the present position of politicians towards terrorism. The crime was done and many people died in the tragedy of September 11th, so revenge had to be taken in order to protect all those who remained alive.
In some ways, the image of Achilles depicted in the movie is different from Mr. Bush though, as Harvey S. Karten argues, for unlike Mr. Bush, Achilles does not kowtow to captains of industry and war. Nevertheless, that is where the contradictions end, because Achilles wants principally to be remembered thousands of years after his exploits as the warrior-king. Unlike President Nixon, who said that he would not be the first American leader to preside over a defeat in war, Achilles does not give a damn who wins or loses, the Greeks or Trojans . He works out his strategy all alone and carries out all of his decisions only alone as well, despite the policy which Agamemnon is providing. Thus, it appears that Achilles is out for himself, and for his position in history. The main goal of his life is serving people, protecting those in need and making sure nation is proud of him. In this he very much reminds of George W. Bush.
One of the major weaknesses of “Troy” lies in the end, when Greeks prove their victory over Troy, but the results of the wars aren’t being shown. Other weaknesses include its concentration on the beauty of characters instead of showing the historical and political background, when leaders did not necessarily have to be so handsome as Brad Pitt, at whom the main attention is attracted.
Harvey S. Karten. Review on “Troy” // www.all-reviews.com.
Steve Rhodes. Review on “Troy” // www.all-reviews.com.
William Arnold. Troy is a beauty of an epic Wolfgang Petersen’s inspired film follows a muse far afield from Homer’s.