Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Limitations of sources and evidence + bibliography

 There will obviously be many limitations of sources and evidence, as translations from the original Greek version to the English version will not be 100% correct. As such I must keep that in mind while publishing this blog. Also I have stated many things which 'I' believe to be Wolfgang Petersen's motive and his choice of themes. I stated that Petersen changed major plot points just for the theme, however, this may be incorrect, as he might have done so due to time constraints or budget problems. This is by no means a 100% accurate comparison of Homer's Iliad and Wolfgang Petersen's Troy. This is only my opinion on the subject and as such, any misinterpretations in facts will be due to my misinterpretation of information or the translation of the original Greek to English version of The Iliad. There is also some debate on the issue that the Iliad is in fact a work of fiction and that none of the events in Troy truely existed. Some historians debate that the Trojan war is a myth while others believe that Homer's Iliad is truely based on the Trojan war. Finley, who is a historian, believes that the work's of Homer is not historical. He says "His arms bear a resemblance to the armour of his time, quite unlike the Mycenaean, although he persistently casts them in antiquated bronze, not iron. His gods had temples, and the Mycenaeans built none, whereas the latter constructed great vaulted tombs in which to bury their chieftains and the poet cremates his. A neat little touch is provided by the battle chariots. Homer had heard of them, but he did not really visualize what one did with chariots in a war. So his heroes normally drove from their tents a mile or less away, carefully dismounted, and then proceeded to battle on foot." Finley's words show that during Homer's time (or what is believed to be the time when Homer was alive), the Mycenaeans did not have what Homer said was in his poem, this being a limitation of the authenticity of the events in Troy.


Primary Source:
The Iliad.
Original author: Homer.
Translators: Books I - IX    W. Leaf
                   Books X - XVI     A. Lang
                   Books XVII - XXIV     E. Myers.

Film: Troy
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen

Secondary Sources:


Influence of Homer's Iliad on Troy the film.

 First off, Homer's Iliad was the main source of influence for Wolfgang Petersen's film, Troy. However, even though it is directly influenced by the poem, Troy does not stay true to the poem for the entire movie. Some major difference's between Homer's Iliad and Wolfgang Petersen's film Troy, is that there was no mention of the Gods being participants in the battle of Troy. This was a major plot point in Homer's Iliad, as the Gods who fought on the battlefield had somewhat of an influence on the outcome of each battle and eventually the outcome of the war. By taking out the 'God' element that the original poem had, Wolfgang Petersen has given the film more room for human emotions. This allows themes like love to be much more emphasised than the actual war itself. The removal of the Gods participation on the battlefield, sort of detracted from the overall feeling that the war was based around, which was the battle of the Gods. Every action that occured in the plot was somehow influenced by the Gods. This can be shown by Zeus saying "Nothing can be revoked or said in vain
nor unfulfilled if I should nod my head." (Book 1, Lines 526-527) This shows how Zeus and even the other gods have the absolute power to change the course of the world and the war with just a 'nod of their heads.'
 Another example is the instigation of the war by Paris' selection of Aphrodite as the most beautiful Goddess. This in turn gave Paris his prize which was the most beautiful woman in the world. Unfortunately, Helen who is the prize that Paris is awarded is already married to Menelaus, King of Sparta, and so he abducts her. This, coupled with Hera and Athena's anger causes the Trojan war. In the film, Helen was abducted by Paris in a similar manner, however, it is not because Helen was awarded as a prize for Paris, but instead it is because he loves her and she loves him the same way. This can be shown by Paris' desciption of Helen when he says "Father, you are a great king, because you love your country so much. Every blade of grass, every grain of sand, every rock in the river... You love all of Troy. That is the way I love Helen." By looking at this example, Wolfgang Petersen's way of thinking makes sense, by taking the Gods out of the plot, Petersen can allow for the love of two mortals to bring about the long Trojan war. If Petersen did add the Gods into the plot line, then the main theme which is shown in the film Troy would not be as prominently featured in the film. As stated before, in previous posts, Wolfgang Petersen would have likely changed this major plot point, to cater for the modern audience. This gives more appeal to modern audience members. This is again due to the modern audience's love for drama and romance, more so than violence and philosophical musings.

 Another difference between Petersen's version of the Trojan war and the original by Homer is the addition of emotions for the character Achilles. In the film Achilles is seen to be mourning the loss of a great warrior, Hector. However, in The Iliad, Achilles who slaughters Hector, is not seen showing any sort of sympathy towards the great Trojan warrior's death. The addition of emotions to Achilles' character again gives the whole drama element to the overall theme of the movie. It makes Achilles seem like one of us, instead of the brutal warrior he is actually described as in the poem. This gives the modern audience a sort of pity for Achilles, who has lost his cousin Patrocles (Patrocles being Achilles' cousin)and now he has killed a great warrior, who like him, loved his family. Another point to make is that Helen was eventually taken by Menelaus, and Menelaus was not killed by Hector. By doing this Petersen gave the film a sort of good guy gets the girl type feeling, as Paris is shown to be innocent and harmless, even though he caused the war. In the film he may be seen as a hero type character, but in the poem, he is seen as a villain type character. As stated before, Paris is a villain. because he cause the Trojan war.

 Petersen's version of the Trojan war, stays true to the basic plot line of the actual Trojan war detailed in Homer's Iliad. However the basic plot line which Petersen retains is not enough to give viewers, details on what really happened in the Trojan war. Petersen sacrifices key plot points for themes that will appeal to the more modern audience as his version contains the drama that a modern audience loves and the theme of romance and love, which the modern audience also enjoys. This would not be the case for an ancient Greek audience, as the ancient Greeks preferred a much more violent, philosophical story, with literary opinions on the Gods, which they admired.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Themes and patterns

 A few key themes are shown in both the film Troy and the poem, The Iliad. In Troy the main themes that are shown are the themes, love and the idea that death is glory. In the poem, The Iliad, the major theme that is shown is the Greek concept of Kleos. This concept of Kleos is when someone earns Kleos through great deeds in his life. This is often achieved through death. An example of Kleos is during the famous conversation between Hector and Andromache where Andromache tells Hector not to go onto the battlefield, however, Hector knows that fighting in the front lines is the only means to "winning my father great glory." (Book 6, Lines 27-29) This is similar in the film as Hector refuses to stay stating he must fight for his country.

 In the film, the major theme is the theme of love. In particular, the major idea behind the theme of love is that love transcends all. Paris and Helen are the two major characters to exhibit this idea as their forbidden love is the instigator to the battle of Troy. In the film, Paris and Helen are shown to live in their own world, not caring for the consequences. This ignorance to the consequences gives way to the beginning of the battle of Troy. Even while the battle rages on Paris and Helen overcome all the odds, and eventually at the end of the film, the two of them escape the ruined city of Troy, saved by their love. This greatly contrasts the poem, The Iliad as Helen did not escape the city of Troy with Paris, but was instead taken back by Menelaus. This shows how much Wolfgang Petersen changes a major point in the story to cater for the drama and romance for the modern audience. In this case love really does transcend all, as the whole plot point of the film is not true to the poem. The second theme in the film is the idea that death is glory. This relates to the major theme in The Iliad, as the concept of Kleos is also related to the idea that death is glory. Throughout the film, Achilles is shown to be wanting the ultimate glory on the battlefield. Achilles believes that utlimate glory is achieved through his eventual death. In the poem Achilles is torn between chosing fame through his homecoming from a successful battle and achieving fame and glory then and there on the battle field. "Two fates bear me on to the day of death. If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy My journey home is gone, but my glory never dies. If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, My pride, my glory dies... True, but the life that's left me will be long, The stroke of death will not come on me quickly." (Book 9, Lines 499-505) This shows how he wishes to achieve tru glory on the battlefield, and die with his name 'engraved' into history instead of leaving for home and only gaining a short lived glory.The choices Achilles is lead to make a decision upon is two more ideas of glory and fame in Greek society. The fame achieved through a persons homecoming after a victorious battle is known as Nostos. The other idea takes the concept of Kleos and narrows it down to just one way to obtain absolute fame and glory. This idea is called Kleos Aphthiton. This concept details how one can achieve true immortality through the glory and fame brought upon by his actions. Kleos Aphthiton surpasses even death and allows the hero to live on, throughout the ages. Thus the name Kleos Aphthiton which means literally, fame imperishable. The concept of Kleos Aphthiton is shown in great lengths through the character of Achilles, as he wishes to gain ultimate glory. This is also reflected in the film, when Achilles shouts out to his fellow comrades, "Myrmidons! My brothers of the sword! I would rather fight beside you than any army of thousands! Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Do you know what's waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! It's yours!" This quote by Achilles, shows how in the movie, Achilles is also following the concept of Kleos Aphthiton as he wishes to seize immortality through death on the battlefield as Achilles and his Myrmidons are sent as the front line at the beginning of the battle in the movie.

 The concept of Kleos which is prominent in the poem is also featured in the film, although not so much as the movie. Although the movie does not contain these ancient Greek concepts as much, the film does have it's own prominent themes such as love. This is due to the difference in audiences, as the modern audience prefers drama over philosophical themes.

The film and the poem. Beginnings of an analysis.

The 2004 epic war film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, is based on the epic poem, The Iliad. The film and poem focus on two vastly different overall messages. In the film, Troy, Wolfgang Petersen handles the film in a more romantic style. Wolfgang Petersen favours the elements of romance and allows the focus of Helen and Paris to be emphasised more so than any war element. The message of love allows for a more dramatic film and so, is more likely to appeal to the modern audience. This focus on romantic drama, which is more likely to bring in a wider audience in modern society is contrasted to the original poem of which the film, Troy is based on. This is because Homer, who is the poet who wrote The Iliad, wanted to focus more on the war aspect of the event as the ancient Greeks tended to like violence. Homer did go ahead and detail the romance of Paris and Helen, but Homers main focus was on the heroes, the villains, and the war. Homers' Iliad shows a hero to be a person showing bravery, martial skill, and friendship, but also cowardly at times. The heroes in the lliad are shown to be Hector, prince of Troy, Priam, king of Troy, and Odysseus, king of Ithica. Hector is shown to posses these heroic qualities, as he is shown to be the Trojan's best warrior, and he displays care for his family, as Hector takes off his helmet in front of his scared child as the child was frightened of his great helmet. This shows his care for his family, even in the midst of war. Hector is even shown to be a cowardly hero as evidenced during Hector and Achilles' battle where "Like a dream in which a man cannot catch someone who's running off and the other can't escape, just as the first man can't catch up - that's how Achilles, for all his speed, could not reach Hector, while Hector was unable to evade Achilles." (Book 22, Lines 247-250) This shows how Hector in all his bravery casts out his honor in favour of surviving. King Priam of Troy also displays heroic qualities, detailed by Homer as Priam is shown to love his men. He is also shown to be caring and loving towards his son, Paris. The love towards his child is shown through the instigation of the war in Troy, as Priam allowed his son to keep Helen in Troy. Lastly, Odysseus is also shown to possess heroic qualities as he is shown to be devoted to his people. Odysseus did not betray his people as he cared for them greatly. In the film, Hector and Priam are shown to possess the same or similar qualities to the heroes in poem. However, Odysseus is not featured in great detail in the film. He is more of a supporting character and is only featured prominently when he is talking to Achilles or during the conception of the Trojan horse. Homers other main message in The Iliad is the villains in the poem. These villains are shown to be the mighty Achilles and the prince of Troy and instigator of the war, Paris. These two are seen as villains as Homer believed a villain to be petty, selfish and disloyal. Achilles is shown to be an extreme villain in The Iliad. This is because he exhibits two of these ideas of villainy. Firstly, Achilles is shown to be petty, as he is not fighting in the war due to a small argument with Agamemnon. Lastly, he is disloyal because he is disobeying his leader by not participating in the war. Paris, who is a prince of Troy, shows the traits of a villain, as he is shown to be very selfish. His selfish desires for the woman he loves (Helen of Sparta) leads to the beginning of the war between Greece and Troy. Due to this selfish act, Paris is seen as a villain in the poem. The differences between the film and the poem is manily shown in regards to the messages that both Homer and Wolfgang Petersen wished to convey to their respective audiences. As Homer had delved into a more philosophical way of portraying the battle between Greece and Troy, Wolfgang Petersen who is catering to the modern audience, uses the battle scenes as more of an instigator to the drama that is going on behind the scenes of the battle. This heavy focus on drama over warfare gives Wolfgang Petersen more public interest in his movie as the modern audience is more interested in romance and drama, than philosophical ideas and more in-depth ideas which would be hard for the average modern audience to grasp the concept of.