Homer and Hollywood

I was surfing the web curious as to how many variations of Homer’s Iliad been made into a movie. What I found was surprising. A total of four movies; correction, three, one was a television series. Dickens’ Great Expectations, on the other hand, had seven movies and three television series created. I won’t even attempt Shakespeare’s works, it would be like the Roadrunner and Coyote episodes. Given that, some adaptations have been less than faithful to the original story, digressing so much the story is unrecognisable. Though to be fair, to write a script that fits into two hours to three maximum, would be a difficult task.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

The Iliad is an epic story, with many sub-stories. The gods play a pivotal if not a decisive role, and then there are the main characters that drive the story. They are both integral and yet in the film Troy, romance is the key factor. The most obvious one is Helen and Paris; the sweet and poignant relationship between Hektor and Andromache; then the spoils of war hate/love union of Akhilleus and Briseis. Of course there’s all the action, the battle between the Greeks and Trojans. However it is the human element of the Iliad that’s the main focus. I did watch the movie when it was released in 2004. When I realised it was more for entertainment rather than an accurate depiction of the story, I did enjoy the flick. Plenty of eye-candy for us females ;D

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

In 2003, a miniseries called Helen of Troy was produced and cast with many famed and international actors. The exceptions were the actors who played Helen and Paris. It began with the marriage of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra in Sparta. Helen’s beauty was famous even as a child and in this version Agamemnon lusted after her. This follows the myths of Helen’s kidnapping by Theseus and eventual rescue by her brother Pollux; Castor didn’t get a mention. It also depicts when the three goddesses: Hera, Athene and Aphrodite approach Paris to choose the fairest by ‘bribing’ him with tempting gifts. This film adaptation was a little better than Troy in the attempt to be faithful to Homer. It was enjoyable and entertaining.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The next movie based on the Iliad was The Fury of Achilles, an Italian production made in 1962. I haven’t seen it and the poster for it looks great. I am curious as to whether how close it is to Homer’s story. The same goes for The Trojan Horse, another Italian movie directed by Giorgio Ferroni in 1961 and based on Aeneas, the Dardanian Prince. The final movie was Helen of Troy, 1956 a Warner Bros production. I am curious about these three earlier versions and when time permits will watch them.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Helen of troy 1955Here’s a YouTube excerpt from the film

If you have watched any of these adaptations of Homer’s Iliad, which do you prefer?

Thank you for visiting and reading. As always, your comments are welcomed and valued.

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15 thoughts on “Homer and Hollywood

  1. Even though Troy did not follow the Iliad that well and left out the gods, it was entertaining. At least it exposed fans to the basic story. I’ve never seen Helen of Troy, but will have to check it out. Homer’s Iliad is a much richer experience which a movie probably could not capture. I’ve enjoyed your series on the various characters from the Iliad and have learned a lot. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Best wishes,
    Linnea

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Linnea

      You are quite right in saying the Iliad is a much richer story and it would have been difficult to condense it into a 2hr movie. I did enjoy the movie Troy for as you mentioned ‘entertainment’ value.

      Thank you, I am so glad you enjoyed my series on Homer’s Illiad.

      cheers my friend
      Luciana

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  2. Wow, they don’t do movie posters like that anymore, do they! A little love of alliteration in the one for “The Trojan Horse,” too. 😉 I haven’t seen any of the movies, and you’re s right that they couldn’t get much of the full epic into a modern movie. I suppose entertainment must trump historical accuracy when it comes to Hollywood….

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  3. What a great post….
    Only classic such as Homer’s Iliad can still be in force nowadays…
    The reasons?… Well, basically the ones you have pointed out above, cara Luciana (i.e: “The Iliad is an epic story, with many sub-stories. The gods play a pivotal if not a decisive role, and then there are the main characters that drive the story.”).
    I watched Troy and Love it… By the way, Pitt looks like a greek adonis ❤
    Best wishes and thanks for sharing!, Aquileana 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, as ever, Luciana!
    I haven’t seen the older flicks (though I have been wanting to for some time). I did enjoy Troy and Helen of Troy – Dianne Kruger is a beautiful Helen, and I love the tender relationship between Hector and Andromache in Troy.
    The problem I have with most modern adaptations of these tales is that the gods are often an aside or ignored completely, and that robs us of a getting a better feeling of the age in which the story takes place. People believed the gods walked among them and influenced all aspects of daily life. Why ignore such powerful motivating factors? Because it is more palatable for a modern audience? Maybe. The Helen of Troy series touches on the goddesses and Paris, but not nearly as much as I would like.
    But it’s all awesome! The more ancient history and myth we see in popular media, the better, no matter the interpretation, as long as it gets more people interested! Cheers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Adam 😀
      There were good scenes in Troy which I think helped the story and of course the great fighting sequences.
      I don’t know why script writers and film producers stay clear of the gods, especially as they pivotal to the story. Perhaps its as you say, for today’s modern audience its wouldn’t work, though people do enjoy Science Fiction.
      We’ll kept plugging away and keep ancient history and mythology to the fore! 😀

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  5. I faintly remember seeing ‘The Troyan Horse’ as a teen in the small local cinema of my Bavaria village … a surging spectacle of savagery and sex couldn’t slip by. Recently I caught Helen of Troy on yourtube. Sobering, how divinity – the highest and lowest human qualities were heaped on elevated individuals, and how beautiful women were entirely defined as desirable objects of conquest. Has that much changed? Today, movie stars attract our imaginative projections for near-immortal greatness, which is why I want to see ‘Troy’ … can’t miss Brad Pitt 🙂

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    • Women are still treated as desirable objects, one just has to look to all the advertising. So much for enlightenment.

      I guess the same could be said for taking in the sights of Brad Pitt in the movie Troy. I must admit to enjoying those scenes 😀

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  6. Hi Luc , liked your take on homer and hollywood ; views are similar to what we hold in india on some of the bollywood (moniker for indian film industry centered in bombay , now mumbai) productions based on indian epics such as mahabharata , ramayana or vatsyana’s kamasutra , the classical treatise on love and sensuality . reading a classic and seeing it on the movie screen are two different experiences . I prefer the written word , being a private experience between just the author and myself , facilitated by the boundlessly free rein of one’s imagination , whereas any cinematic version is limited by the director’s vision , howsoever spectacular it may be , as the medium is invariably constrained by resources in respect of time and scale . for instance , the thrill of reading herman hesse’s novel ‘siddharta’ did not really kick in when i saw the movie several years later . there is , however , an exceptional flip side to this , because quite a few human experiences are more effectively portrayed in visual form , than in writing ; as borne out by paintings of eminent artists and many of the memorable movies of david lean…..best wishes…raj

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