Diffusionists, Rejoice?

Diffusionists, rejoice!

I blogged it, so now I needed to watch it, if only for the llamas.

Turned off by poor reviews, I had passed over Troy, until I learned that it made a case for Bronze Age trade between Anatolia and Peru. How else did there come to be llamas in the marketplace of Troy?

When other people have criticize this movie version of one of the oldest stories that we have, the word “travesty” seems to keep popping up. I will restrict myself to a few comments.

First, both in the Iliad itself and in the movie, the Trojans are not demonized, but are treated with as much humanity as are the Greeks. Indeed, one key scene of the story–its throbbing heart–is Prince Hector’s speech to his wife, Andromache, in Book 6. It’s a typical statement of heroic honor, but what humanizes it is the detail that their little son is terrified and starts bawling when he sees his father in full battle armor. Hector must remove his helmet before the boy will let his father pick him up and hold him. Too bad they left that one out of the film.

For the military history critics, I see that the director was clueless about the chariots, but then, so was Homer. True, those are not Bronze Age helmets or ships. And while we are talking about the Iliad, no one seems to notice the little nod at the end towards the Aeniad as well. No one reads Virgil anymore?

And the roles of the gods are dimished to nothingness, even to a sort of directorial joy in the breaking of temple statuary. That is perhaps the greatest loss, because as much as a quest for glory, the story is also about heroism in the face of a universe that may be against you, as the gods step in and interfere for their favorites. Athena passes Achilles’ spear back to him in his fight with Hector, for example–Hector’s heroism is more poignant because he is fighting what amounts to a Bronze Age cyborg.

Irreverent postscript: Is “Orlando Bloom with a bow and arrow” now a subgenre of its own?