Eagle Eye Media // 2004 // 50 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 25th, 2004
"Troy and the world where the Iliad story is set were Homer's
vision of Middle Earth 2700 years before Tolkien." -- Professor Tony
* (Winner of Most Nonsensical Quotation of 2004)
Hmmm. Why a release like this? Why now? What could prompt such an exploration into the voracity of the Trojan War? What could it be?
Troy: Myth or Reality is a fifty-minute documentary that pairs a retelling of Homer's epic narrative of the Trojan War with contemporary professors, archaeologists, and actors who try and deduce if the story was based in fact.
The presentation switches back and forth from Iliad to modern science. The creators have assembled a moderate amount of scholars and professionals to offer opinions on the idea that Achilles, Helen, Hector and the boys were real and that the great conflict chronicled by the mysterious Homer was based in fact.
Potential archaeological evidence is discussed, though pretty much all of it hinges on the finds and claims of one man, who asserted that a Turkish mound site was the actual location of Troy. In addition, some of the debate is sourced in Greek artifacts and legend. Translation: there ain't much out there to support a claim of Troy's actual existence.
But the show must go on, and it does.
The documentary takes us through the meat and potatoes of the Troy legend, touching on the Paris/Helen fling, Agamemnon's greed, Hector and Achilles's bad-assitude, the wooden horse, and so forth. To illustrate, the doc utilizes the same paintings and sculptures over and over again, as well as some reenacted footage (filmed in various styles to "put" you into the moment, e.g. hand-held camera action at the siege where a bunch of extras run around in cheap-looking armor).
The final chapter of the feature is titled "The Verdict," the answer to which should come as no big shock to anyone, especially after watching nearly an hour of expert after expert repeating there is zero evidence to support Troy's existence.
I was constantly thinking that Troy: Myth or Reality would make a great bonus feature on the special DVD edition of Wolfgang Petersen's Troy, the film that obviously motivated its release.
Here's what I came away learning from the film:
No one in the world thinks Troy exists and it was a work of fiction for crying out loud so enough already.
As the documentary rolled forward, I have to admit it became inadvertently funny. For example, you'd have the narrator introduce a segment, then we'd get some reenacted footage or voice-over describing Homer's verse, the narrator musing perhaps on the potential for truth, and then a scholar saying something like "There is absolutely no evidence blah blah blah."
For crying out loud, actor Brian Blessed was used as a "scholar" to speculate on Troy's existence! I'm sure he's an intelligent fellow, and he's definitely got a great voice for the stage, but I still can't shake the image of him shrieking "DIIIIIIVVE!!!!" while wearing monstrous fake-looking wings.
There are on the other hand some lovely shots of art and artifacts and archaeological locations, but juxtaposed with ludicrous dramatizations of Zeus and the Olympians cavorting around while Apollo shoots arrows, the presentation comes across as goofy.
Troy: Myth or Reality brings a gritty, sometimes grainy full-frame video to the siege. The stereo mix does little to enhance the viewing experience. Bonus features are all text-based, offering info on the gods, the major characters from the story, and a quiz.
Two words for you high school sophomores assigned to read The Iliad: Cliffs Notes.
Perhaps, five thousand years from now, some scholars will hail Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective as a masterwork and endeavor to find out if there really was an "Idaville," if it had a synagogue and a movie theatre and a gang of tough kids named the Tigers and a brilliant ten-year old sleuth. They will undoubtedly find zero evidence to support the belief, but when a blockbuster movie based on Encyclopedia Brown is released and thus generates renewed interest, a company will unleash a documentary to cash in on the popularity of the movie, and a reviewer will sit and watch and know what I went though so many millennia before.
Eagle Media is found guilty for second-degree opportunism and third-degree "Like, duh"-filmmaking.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Eagle Eye Media
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* The Olympians
* Troy's Characters