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May 18, 2004


Brad DeLong

All of this "nuance" is in the Iliad, after all.

Laurie K.

I have hope for the future. The 8th and 9th graders can obviously tell a good movie from a bad one, nuanced or not.

Laurie K.


Re: the nuance - my theory was that the success of Lord of the Rings was the proximate cause for Hollywood dusting off the sword and sorcery epics (Troy, and King Arthur coming soon).

With Troy, they took tremendous liberties with the Iliad (e.g., the ten year war is over in less than three weeks - wasn't Troy Greece's Vietnam?), so we presume the screenwriters were encouraged to avoid a simple Good v. Evil script. Which is fine, and intriguing - it gets away from one possible reason for the LOTR success, and suggests that the marketing mavens of Hollywood have decided that we the people want a more complex view of war.

This is all tea-leaf reading, of course (hmm, should I stay in spirit by studying chicken entrails and bird flights?). "Man on Fire" with Denzel Washington was a very generic "Punish the Evildoers" revenge romp, and the King Arthur flick remains to be seen. And of course, LOTR was filmed before 9/11 (same with "Black Hawk Down"), so if it captured a national mood, it was purely by coincidence.


I just can't let that Red Sox line go without comment...

The last time I checked, the Sox led the AL East and the season series with the Yanks (thus far) is 6-1 Boston.

I actually feel sorry for Yankees fans. I know how difficult it is to lose World Series after World Series... ; )

Gideon S

"When I was young, the Trojan War story was pretty simple - sly Trojans kidnapped Helen, and the brave, clever Greeks sailed off to bring her home and Punish the Evildoers."

Go back and take another look. Obviously your memory isn't that great as far as the Iliad is concerned. After that you might consider the Aeneid as well.


But first, you've got to get to World Series, after World Series.


Obviously your memory isn't that great as far as the Iliad is concerned.

I can't blame alcohol or drugs, since I was only about ten years old.

My original, and evidently elusive, point, is not that the Iliad is a simple story; my point it that, unless one is laboring under the illusion that the producers were attempting to make a documentary, they can tell the story any way they want. I found it interesting that they went for a "war is complicated and ill-fated" theme rather than a more rousing "Virtue Triumphant" story.

If anyone at all saw "The Alamo", I suppose that would be another data point to estimate what Hollywood thought would sell this summer.

David Gillies

I have to say that the Iliad is fairly nuanced. After all, the whole Paris/Helen thing was engineered by Eris as a means of sowing discord. She's the real villain of the peace. Hector is a very sympathetic character and the despoliation and mutilation of his body at the hands of Achilles is presented to us as a dreadfully wrong act (Achilles is tormented by the Fates for it). Paris is shown mainly as weak rather than evil, and Priam is indeed depicted as a kindly man devastated by the deaths of his loved ones. Achilles is the bravest of the brave, but selfish and foolhardy. Menelaus is the victim of a grievous wrong - Helen, after all, is cuckolding her husband and she does not get a very sympathetic treatment. The main narrative impression I got from reading the Iliad was a sense of resignation and disgust at the wastefulness of it all, even while individually heroic acts were glorified.

Having said that, it does appear that some egregious liberties have been taken with the text (I haven't seen the film yet, and probably will wait for the DVD). The Iliad version of the Trojan Wars is best viewed as a proxy battle between the Gods. To write them out altogether reduces the story to just another swords-and-sandals epic. I suppose there's a finite chance it will lead some people to reading the Homer, but I doubt it will be on an LOTR scale.

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