In Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, Odysseus spends 10 years returning home from the Trojan War, only to discover that suitors have taken residence in his home to pursue his wife, Penelope. So he devises a challenge wherein Penelope will marry the man who can string his bow and fire an arrow through a row of twelve axes — a feat of strength and accuracy only Odysseus himself could accomplish, and the means by which he then kills his enemies. The moment is triumphant and righteous. And yet, because the suitors are unarmed, they are not defeated so much as slaughtered. Though their deaths are justified, there remains an inkling of dishonor in death by bow and arrow.
In The Iliad, this sentiment is even more apparent. Scholars have remarked on how because archers do not meet their marks face to face, their skill is more associated with cunning than physical prowess.
In filming his adaptation of The Iliad, director Wolfgang Petersen took many liberties with the source material, notoriously omitting the gods’ story lines from his version. But where Troy may have faltered in its depiction of mythology it more than made up for with Orlando Bloom’s Paris, an archer so lacking in courage and fortitude it’s hard to imagine even Homer writing him any other way. Paris is the anti-hero of the story, the prince whose vanity, narcissism and cowardice plunges Troy into war and destruction. Given what we know about Homer, is it any surprise that Paris’ only redeeming quality is his skill with a bow?
The irony of the Iliad and Troy, of course, is that Paris defeats the greatest warrior who ever lived, Achilles. But even more ironic is knowing all the attributes that made Bloom the perfect hero archer in The Lord of the Rings trilogy (think of Legolas at the Battle of Helms Deep), serve to denigrate him in Troy. Paris’ moment of glory with Achilles is anything but, and we can’t help but pity him as he tries to find redemption in the act. But Petersen is not nearly as ruthless towards Paris as Homer was. When you’re watching Bloom safely escape the city with his bride, ponder the fitting end that Homer gave his character: Death by arrow.
Troy is playing Saturday, March 8 at 8 PM | 7C on AMC.
Watch the making of Troy video here.Read More