On this day in Film History: Troy or, The Iliad for the Silver Screen

(Note: again, this is a day early, the film actually premiered on the 14th)


On this day in film history, Troy (2004) hit theaters. With an all star cast (Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Peter O’Toole, Brian Cox, to name just a few), the film sought to tell the (very abbreviated) story of the Trojan War as seen in Homer’s immortal Iliad. The film centers for the most part on two stories: Achilles (Brad Pitt) as he wrestles with whether he should embrace a glorious destiny (with a short life) or live a long life with a family (but not be remembered in the ages to come). The second story focuses on Hector (Eric Bana), the prince of Troy, as he is forced to deal with the consequences of his younger brother Paris (Orlando Bloom) stealing Helen (Diane Kruger), the wife of King Menelaus (the brother of Agamemnon). Though each tries to resist it, Hector and Achilles are being drawn towards an inevitable final conflict, and though one triumphs for a brief moment, ultimately, neither will escape the grasp of Death.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m deeply in love with the score of this film (see Troy (2005): The Trojan Horse, The Fall of Troy for more details) because it was put together by the late great James Horner. Horner’s score is magnificent, he uses deep kettledrums in the lead-up to battle scenes to emphasize the gravity of the moment. However, the most beautiful (and heart-wrenching element) might be the voice of Tanja Carovska. Horner uses her vocals throughout the score (noticeably during the sacking of Troy once the Greeks enter the gates, the latter part of Hector’s duel with Achilles and during the various funeral scenes).

I remember being delighted when my high school Latin teacher announced that we would be watching this film in class (we’d been reading about the Iliad, though since it was an R rated film everyone had to get a parental waiver signed before we could watch). I distinctly remember being enthralled by what I saw (and heard). Troy certainly isn’t the greatest epic ever made, I know that now, but it hits enough of the right notes to make a viewing (or two, or three) worthwhile (some of the cast members would not have agreed with me: Peter O’Toole (King Priam) disowned the entire project and never watched the completed film).

Finally, the last piece of music heard in the film is the song “Remember”, composed by James Horner and performed by Josh Groban (who has one of the greatest singing voices I’ve ever heard). After Horner’s untimely death last summer, I must have listened to that song a dozen times in a row, because it (sadly) became the perfect song to say goodbye to him.

Troy “Remember” (2004)

Did you ever get the opportunity to see Troy? Did you like it? Hate it? I’d love to hear about it! Enjoy the weekend! -Bex

*poster is the property of Warner Bros. Pictures

For more “On this day” posts, see here

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