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Take It, Immortality, It's Yours, Dude
by Aaron Pease
And lo, the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the movie critics and the hipper-than-thou brought Brad Pitt before Jesus, and they said unto him, "This man has broken the law of Method, and the law declares he shall be stoned. What sayest thou?" (They tempted him, that they might accuse him.) But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, "He among you that possesses any acting talent whatsoever, let him first cast a stone at her, I mean, him." And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but Brad Pitt, he said unto her, I mean him: "Where are thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?"

He said, "No dude has, Lord." And Jesus said unto him: "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and act again."

Dear Reader, I confess unto you, that I stood among those with stones in their hands, eager to cast them upon the golden locks of Brad Pitt.

But Christ's words cut straight to my heart, and seeing their truth, I was humiliated and dropped the stone, and ran home with ears burning. Plus I had to pee.

I also saw the movie in question, Dear Reader, called Troy, which features Brad Pitt as Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior, if he does say so himself. Though many other actors could have better filled the role, I say unto you that no great crimes against the acting "craft" were committed. It was not Brad Pitt's fault that his acting seemed stilted, nay, for the lines he was compelled to speak were more wooden than the thousand ships launched by Helen's face. (And lest we forget that all words are recorded on parchment, and that parchment, or paper, is some form of tree pulp, and like unto wood in substance, I needlessly remind you so here.)

Just one example: as Achilles' men approach the shores of Troy, Achilles proclaims, Take it, immortality, it's yours! Huh? Let us leave aside the natural problems that an exhortation with an appositive presents to proper oral delivery in an adrenalized situation. (Does a football coach, minutes before the big game, motivate his players thusly: Let's get after 'em, the other team, tonight!-I think not.). Given the movie context, in which Troy has only feebly defended the shore and the main battle has yet to come, Achilles may as well be saying, Take it, beachfront property, it's yours! Starting in the 200's!

After the beach has been secured, the ensuing battle with Troy takes not 10 years, as in the poem, but an undetermined number of days, well within a month or so. As would be expected, some critics, particularly the editors of Archaeology Today, are infuriated by the many liberties the movie takes from the historical record-in, for example, burial practices, heights of walls, ship styles, sword lengths, the general lack of gayness-yet they forget, indeed, the many liberties that Homer himself took from the historical record, like writing an epic poem about it, rather than a "history." Now, unless these archaeologists know just in which nondescript crate, in which out-of-the-way warehouse, in which unnamed city contains the Ark of the Covenant, I humbly suggest they just shut up and enjoy the movie.

To further confound the historical/literary records, many Greek Heroes, who are not to meet their fate in the Iliad but in other myths and plays written by other authors, are conveniently disposed of before the walls of Troy, though in rough ratio to the destinies they receive in those other works. Thus it is that Ajax-played by the famous Tyler Mane (actual, non-stage name: Daryl Karolat)-lands his ship near a deserted temple, and upon entering it sees members of his crew afflicted by some unnamed terror, until, finally, on the battlefield, a horrible beast bursts from Ajax's chest and turns the tide of battle in favor of the Trojans. Then the beast commandeers a Greek vessel and sails south. It plans to sow its dastardly seed throughout the world, but is instead spun off into space, thwarted by the contours of the Earth, which back then, as we all know, were square. This is in the historical record.

Having to deliver lines that most closely resemble 2 X 4s does not prevent Brad Pitt and the other actors from humping the scenery. Brian Cox as Agamemnon already has his beard braided, perhaps so as to encourage him to indicate his villainy by other means than by twisting his mustache and trying to tie down Briseis (Achilles' prize and lover) to the anachronistic railroad tracks. Peter O'Toole takes time off from his real-life gig of impersonating a human skeleton with maniacally blue eyes to portray Priam, the old King of Troy, a human skeleton with manically blue eyes. In one of the movie's few nods to realism, Priam falls for a scam that would bamboozle most old people even today. "Gee whiz, honey, look at this horse!" "Oh, can we keep it? Can we keep it?" "I don't know, honey, it could be dangerous…wait! It's got a Triple A sticker on it. Let's roll it into the garage!"

Eric Bana, who in real life is a comedian, plays the humorless Hector to a T. Bana's Hector represents hearth and home with his "all in a day's work" approach to war, wherein battles are scheduled around meals and quality time with the family. Hector is portrayed as the only clear-eyed realist among the Trojans, which is unfortunate, for even he thinks it unfathomable that the Greeks would skip a meal or two, or put off a good night's sleep, to knock down the gates of Troy and kill everyone inside. Which makes your reviewer think Hector is whipped. He's forgotten what it's like to come stag to a party, and by party, I of course mean that sort of get-together when the parents come back to find the whole house trashed and their children missing.

But the real acting prize goes to Orlando Bloom, who, as you well know, previously played Legolas, an immortal, lithe yet super-strong elf and archer in The Lord of the Rings. Here, Bloom plays Paris, the lithe lover and seducer of Helen, and also an archer. But he is not super strong! Remember this, Dear Reader, for Bloom the expert actor is thus able to clearly delineate this character from Legolas by showing how difficult it is for Paris to draw a bow, aim, and let it fly. As a result, we lose sight of his Elfinity and become convinced of his humanity, his complexity, his deep emotions, his frailty...we as viewers virtually sweat alongside him, and experience with him the same anxiety-whether the arrow will hit its mark, whether such exertion will cause his beautiful hair to be jostled out of place, and whether such jostling will require a re-shoot, delaying the launch of one thousand teeny bop posters of Bloomy onto the walls of adoring 12-year-old girls worldwide.

For all of its blockbuster ambitions, the movie at least makes sense on its own terms, tying up its loose ends well enough, but in so doing retroactively rendering moot the later literary glory of the Athenian playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, among others. But what is Hollywood to Homer or Homer to Hollywood? Ships passing in the night, I say. Lo, these immortal words shall echo through eternity, or at least until next month when Troy is yanked from theaters.

This steel and sandals epic is recommended for its great battle scenes, both collective and individual, and because it leaves you with the timeless, haunting question: Why in the world is a stiff wooden object with Greek seamen inside called a Trojan Horse?

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