Troy: An Underrated Gem From Wolfgang Petersen

credit: Troy

When movie fans talk about Brad Pitt’s best movies, they might not mention 2004’s Troy. It’s a bit understandable, considering the man does have far more notable movies on his resume. Now Pitt can play just about any kind of role, but he is an underrated action star. If you need more convincing, please go watch Bullet Train. However, the 2004 epic historical war movie gave him the chance to play Achilles, one of the central characters in Homer’s Iliad. If you’re a fan of the action movies where everyone is swinging swords, you’ll enjoy Pitt’s Achilles running through people.

The funny thing is, Brad Pitt himself has admitted that he wasn’t very happy with how Troy turned out. In his own words, he was basically coerced into starring in it. Although that may be the case, Pitt was able to give a good performance for a movie he wasn’t too thrilled about being in. And if you ask me, he totally killed every scene he was in.

Troy Has a Really Impressive Ensemble Cast

The cast also included Eric Bana as Trojan prince Hector and Orlando Bloom as his younger brother, Paris. And as for the king of Troy, the legendary Peter O’Toole played king Priam. For the record, O’Toole wasn’t too happy about the film either, but unlike Pitt, he wasn’t so subtle about his negative feelings about it. The large ensemble cast goes beyond them, however, as it includes Brian Cox as Agamemnon, Brendan Gleeson as Menelaus, Garret Hedlund as Patroclus, Diane Kruger as Helen, and Sean Bean as Odysseus. And guess what? Troy is one of the few films Sean Bean has appeared in where he did not die at the end, more interestingly, he was among the very few characters who didn’t die at the end of Troy.

It Shows Wolfgang Petersen at his Best

Troy was directed by late director Wolfgang Petersen, who sadly passed away in 2022. Petersen built a rather impressive body of work; as a German-born film director, he began making films in Germany, with the 1981 submarine war film Das Boot becoming one of his best. Beyond Troy, Petersen has made several other American films, including In the Line of Fire, The Perfect Storm, Outbreak, and one of the best action films ever, Air Force One. The last American film he made was Poseidon back in 2006, although that isn’t considered to be one of his better films.

The last Wolfgang Petersen movie was a German crime comedy movie called Vier gegen die Bank, or “Four Against the Bank”, in English. He has made a name for himself in both America and in Germany and that will forever be a part of his legacy. As for his actual movies, it is fair to say that basically all directors will make at least one movie that fans will generally dislike. That is the case for all directors, even the most famous ones. For the case of Wolfgang Petersen, Troy is unfortunately one of those movies that fans consider to be one of his weaker ones. Is that a fair assessment? Well, Troy is certainly not his worst film, but it’s also far from being his best. It has its fanbase, which I’m included in, and I do believe it deserves the fanbase.

credit: Troy

Did You Know Troy Was Oscar-Nominated?

For the criticism is gets, it should be noted that it was an Oscar-nominated movie. It should be no surprise that the category it was nominated for was Best Costume Design. It would lose to The Aviator, but that shouldn’t take away from the incredible work that was done on Troy.

If you’re a history buff, I think you should appreciate how the costume and production designers were dedicated to making ancient Troy and Greece look as real as possible. In the film, 50,000 Greeks were invading the ancient titular city, which meant the whole country was sailing off to war. With so many different Greeks, the crew had to make a variety of costumes for them. From Achilles’ Myrmidons, to the warriors of Sparta, Thessaly, Ithaca, and Mycenae, all of the Greek warriors hailing from different parts of the land were distinguished by their different uniforms.

And as for the soldiers of Troy themselves, they were all dressed in the same golden armor that symbolized their status as the protectors of the city. At one point, we got to see the elite Trojan guard, the Apollonians, enter battle with their distinguishable wingtips on their helmets. Now this does take place in ancient Greece, and what made the soldiers stand out was the fact that not every soldier had big armor. In fact, hardly any of them wore heavy armor. That was something that would be forged in later centuries during the medieval times. Troy portrays many soldiers, especially the archers, wearing light armor that exposes much of their skin.

Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger in Troy An Underrated Gem From Wolfgang Petersen

credit: Troy

A+ for Authenticity

We should indeed appreciate how the crew did their homework and made the setting and the characters look authentic. Since the whole swords and sandals genre is rather rare in movies these days, it’s an even rarer treat that we get to enjoy these kind of movies. It got a lot of flak for not staying totally faithful to Homer’s Iliad, but honestly, how many movie adaptations stay completely faithful to the book roots? Not very many. Fans of the book may not like it, but for what it is, Troy was a very fun and very entertaining movie. If anything, it should be considered an underrated gem in Petersen’s filmography.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Troy is underrated or would you rather forget about it?

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