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The credits for Troy say that this film was "inspired" by The Iliad by Homer. This means that the story is greatly changed and simplified from the original epic poem. Let's say that they changed more than the movie version of Lord of the Rings from the book, and less than First Knight did from the King Arthur legend. The broad brush strokes of The Iliad (and also the parts from The Odyssey) are the same. Paris of Troy (Orlando Bloom) makes off with Helen of Sparta (Diane Kruger). Her husband, Menelaus (Bendan Gleeson) and his brother, Agamemnon (Brian Cox), put together a big army including such Greek heroes as Achilles (Brad Pitt), Odysseus (Sean Bean), Ajax (Tyler Mane) and the Myrmidons. They head off on the "thousand ships" to lay siege to Troy. Meanwhile, back on the ranch, Paris and the rest of Troy are defended by his brother, Hector (Eric Bana) and King Priam ( Peter O'Toole).
As The Iliad begins, the siege of Troy has already been going on for 9 years but none of that for the movie version. Things really move along quickly in Troy. Once the Greek fleet arrives, the whole siege leading up to and including the Trojan horse, the sack of Troy and the deaths of most of the aforementioned characters seems to take less than a week. Some events are true to the original. Achilles kills Hector but no chasing him three times around the walls of Troy first. Paris kills Achilles by shooting him in the heel, but no mention of this being a weak spot for him before he gets shot. Several characters get killed in Troy the movie who survive the siege of Troy in The Iliad (and the bits in the Odyssey). The two epic poems by Homer are basically chess games played by the Gods with humans as merely pawns. The Gods are invoked in Troy the movie but are not actively taking part in the action. Ditto Cassandra. She is MIA.
All this being said, Troy isn't a bad movie. It runs a little long at 2 hours and forty minutes, but the director, Wolfgang Peterson (The Perfect Storm, Das Boot), knows how to put together an entertaining movie. Troy has a good flow, some nice two-dimensional characters, and good action sequences. The battle scenes are very well done and most of the time you don't think about the fact that they are all heavily computer generated. Troy is well cast, mainly with Brits. Brad Pitt puts on some kind of trans-Atlantic accent to fit in. He does very well here and looks incredibly hunky. Pitt is very comfortable as Achilles. The original Achilles was a huge international celebrity of his day (and I mean BC) who traveled with his own posse (the Myrmidons), i.e., he was the Brad Pitt of his day. So maybe it's not that big a stretch for Pitt to play him. The Brits, Bloom, Cox, Gleeson, Bean, O'Toole, as well as Saffron Burrows as Andromache (Hector's wife), and Julie Christie as Thetis (Achilles' mother) are mostly old pros. It's a pleasure to watch them chew the scenery. This they do with relish, especially, Cox as Agamemnon. Peter O'Toole is a pure joy to watch. He can act rings around most of the youngsters.
I spent quite a bit of time while watching Troy, trying to remember which bits were "true" and which were not. This is perhaps not the best way to watch this movie. You should probably just sit back and let it wash over you on the big screen. Remember, this is the original "epic!" Troy even leaves room for a sequel. As people are trying to escape from the city as it is being sacked, Paris shoves his sword into the hand of some young kid, named Aeneas. I hope Virgil has an agent.