Troy - Press Archive - IGN/STAX
Troy Script Review
The Stax Report: Script Review of Troy
Stax looks at the script for the upcoming historical epic starring Brad Pitt and Eric
Bana, to be directed by Wolfgang Petersen!
November 14, 2002 - Stax here with my
reaction to the screenplay for Troy! This
157-page draft by David Benioff (Stay, The 25th Hour) is loosely based on Homer's
The Iliad. Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom will star for director Wolfgang
Petersen. Recent reports suggest that Claire Forlani (Meet Joe Black), Emilio
Estevez (Mission: Impossible), and Oscar-nominee Michael Clarke Duncan (Daredevil)
are also in negotiations to join the Village Roadshow/Warner Brothers project.
Troy will film in London, Malta and Morocco this spring for a 2004 release.
Troy is only loosely based on The Iliad,
Homer's classic tale of the Trojan War.
Deleted from this account is much of the Greek mythology that peppers Homer's
story. The gods, although often mentioned, are not characters here at all; gone,
too, are such famous episodes as "the judgment of Paris." Instead, Troy offers a
realistic depiction of a historical event - the Trojan War - long thought to have
been a mere myth until Heinrich Schliemann proved otherwise.
While staying as the guest of Spartan
king Menelaus, Trojan prince Paris (Bloom)
enjoys an affair with the king's wife, Helen (Forlani?). Since her marriage to
Menelaus is loveless, Paris' appeal to return with him to Troy proves too much for
Helen to resist. Paris subsequently "abducts" Helen when he and his elder brother
Hector (Bana) sail for Troy. Paris refuses to return Helen even after Hector
protests because he knows what Menelaus will do to her. This love affair between
Paris and Helen ignites the Trojan War.
Menelaus' brother is Agamemnon, king of
the Myceneans, whose thirst for
conquest knows no bounds. While Menelaus wants to wage war on the Trojans
over wounded pride, Agamemnon sees the fall of Troy as the latest and most
prized addition to his collection of conquered civilizations. The different Greek
kingdoms under Agamemnon's rule fight for him not so much out of loyalty as fear
of reprisal. The Greek warrior kings who join the campaign against Troy include the
legendary Odysseus of Ithaca, Ajax of Salamis (Duncan?), Diomedes of Argos, and
the greatest fighter of them all, Achilles (Pitt) of the Myrmidons.
Achilles' prowess on the battlefield has
made him famous even amongst his fellow
Greeks. Although he has no true loyalty to Agamemnon, the laconic yet deadly
Achilles agrees to fight the king's new war simply for the glory of it. Accompanying
Achilles on this campaign is his adoring, beloved teenage cousin, Patroclus. Long
story short: Troy holds out better than expected against the Greeks, with the noble
Hector leading his men to a surprising victory.
The Greeks believe if they can kill Hector
then the Trojans' spirit will be broken and
they'll soon buckle. The Greeks try to convince Achilles to challenge Hector to a duel
but Agamemnon has offended Achilles' honor and now he intends on departing the war.
It is only after Hector (unwittingly) personalizes the war for Achilles that the Greek
warrior ruthlessly confronts the Trojan prince with tragic results for all involved.
Troy was a sweeping yet intimate epic
chock full of spectacle, romance, tragedy and
action. I was surprised at how poignant it turned out to be. Benioff also does a great
job in conveying a lot with very little. For such a mammoth tale, there's surprisingly
little exposition and the characters are sketched out in simple yet insightful detail.
I was particularly taken with the relationship between Hector and Paris. Hector's
"Achilles' heel", if you will, is his honor and loyalty; Paris' is his infatuation with
Helen. Paris matures during the course of this story as he realizes the far-reaching
implications of his impetuous decision. He must also come to terms with his own
cowardice. The theme of brotherhood also extends to Achilles' relationship with
Patroclus, as well as to sibling bad guys Menelaus and Agamemnon.
If Hector's tragic flaw is his own goodness
then Achilles' is vainglory. I was
surprised at how dark and unsympathetic Achilles was; I think this is the first time
since Twelve Monkeys that Brad Pitt has played the closest thing to a villain. Achilles
is this story's Darth Maul or Boba Fett, the cool, kick-ass antagonist who was, in his
own words, "born to take lives." Some readers have complained to me that they think
Pitt is too slight to play the mighty Achilles. I must admit that the thought has also
crossed my mind but Pitt has the intensity necessary for the role, and Fight Club
proved he can handle his own in a brawl. Black Hawk Down alumni Bana and Bloom
stand to gain the most from Troy; I fully expect Bana to achieve Russell Crowe-level
stardom thanks to this project.
I appreciated the ambiguity and restraint
with which Helen was portrayed here.
Scholars still debate whether Helen was a femme fatale who caused a needless war
or if she was a victim. This draft's Helen falls somewhere in between. She understands
the carnage that her affair has caused and this guilt plagues her. Still, she truly loves
Paris even after he shows all of Troy how flawed and unworthy a man he is. Helen also
has great respect for Hector, not just because he's more of a man than Paris is but
because he fights (without complaint) a war that she helped spark.
I also enjoyed the modern allusions that
Benioff slipped into Troy. While parallels
between the Trojan War and Vietnam are nothing new (after all, Oliver Stone's Platoon
was heavily influenced by The Iliad), Troy illustrates how vile and pointless war can
be when its goals and motives are so questionable. Although, like Petersen's The
Perfect Storm, Troy is ultimately a downer, it still manages to end on a note of hope.
This is all the more impressive when one recalls the tragic inevitability with which the
Expect Troy to be a major awards contender
when it opens in 2004. It combines the
action and spectacle of Gladiator with the romance and intimacy of Braveheart, all of
which adds up to a rather obvious formula for a Best Picture nod. Troy succeeds
because it works as a moving human drama as well as an old-fashioned sword-and-
sandal epic. - STAX