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Helen of Troy
IMDB Rating: 6.3/10 from 5,159 votes
Release: 20 April 2003 (USA) /

Helen of Troy

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, History, Romance
Director:
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: The abduction of beautiful Helen, wife of Spartan King Menelaus, by Paris of Troy triggers a long war.

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Critic Reviews

The Helen of Troy miniseries on USA today failed apparently because the writer lacked the nerve to tell the classic story, and instead made up his own. Instead of using Homer's Illiad as a starting point, the TVsters seemed to turn to the 1956 film as the primary source--turning the seduction/kidnap of Helen into a big ol' love story.

So many key elements were missing: the interventions of the gods, the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon, the killing of Patroclus in Achilles armor, Achilles subsequent killing of Hector, etc. This was the storyline of what we know of the myth of the Trojan War.

And major characters are triviliazed or disappeared: Hector's glory on TV is as a second banana to Paris; mighty Ajax gets a mention, little more; Diomedes, Nestor, Idonmoneus are absent. On the Trojan side, Aeneas, Sarpedon, Glaucus, Deiphobus and others are equally invisible.

Agamemnon is seen, not as a hero with the fatal flaw of hubris but a Hitlerian monster. Menaleas, a strong warrior in the Illiad, seems like he attended all the sensitivity training classes avaiable to the Achians, (the Greeks were referred to as "the Ageans" in the series), but wasn't much of a fighter.

But my biggest beef is with the character of Paris (Helen seemed commonplace, but acceptable). Paris was not much of a hero in the Illiad; actually, he was a bit of a feckless bounder. Helen's feelings toward him were decidedly mixed, with lust, pity, and contempt thrown together. Hector upbraided Paris on several occasions for his cowardice and sloth, but then, Paris occasionally entered the fray as an experienced soldier as well.

I sense the writers chickened out of grappling with a different kind of plot, and thereby missed an opportunity. The difficult interplay among the Greek heroes, the complicated moral choices on both sides, the tragic savagery of war, while existing to small degrees in the series, took back seat to a more or less conventional love story.

Too bad. Production values were fair, and some of the elements were there to make something better.

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