"Helen of Troy" is the name of two films and one television miniseries. All three are adaptations of Homer's The Iliad
The first film from 1924 is a German made film, the original title being "Helena." It was directed by Manfred Noa and featured many actors who never made it big in the film industry. Until recently it was believed to be a lost film and was rediscovered. It has since been remastered and is considered one of the jewels of German cinema.
The second film from 1956 is an American made film directed by Robert Wise
. It features such actors as Stanley Baker
as the invulnerable Achilles, Rossana Podesta
as Helen and Jacques Sernas
as Paris. It was a box office hit but critics were less than kind. It has since become the go-to example for Trojan War
films even to the point that footage from this film is shown in documentaries. It has had quite the influence on the later adaptation Troy.
The television miniseries from 2003 came out a full year before Troy. It features such actors as Sienna Guillory
as Helen, Matthew Marsden
as Paris and Rufus Sewell
as Agamemnon. The mini-series is held in higher regards than the '56 film but in lower regards that the '24 film and the later movie Troy. It features such episodes from the mythology as Theseus' abduction of Helen, the Judgement of Paris and even the Oath of Tydareus.
The Wise film provides examples of:
- Achilles' Heel: Mentioned by Ajax early on, later comes into play when an arrow from Paris goes into Achilles' heel.
- Achilles in His Tent: Present in the 1956 film, absent in the miniseries. Achilles comes out of his tent when Paris kills Patroclus instead of Hector as in the original tale.
- Adaptational Badass: Paris to the point that he beats Ajax in a cestus fight (boxing match), kills both Patroclus and Achilles and beats Menelaus in a duel.
- Adaptational Dye Job: The blonde Achilles of the myths is portrayed by the black haired Stanley Baker.
- Adaptational Heroism: Naturally, Paris gets hit by this. He is portrayed as hero and a great leader as opposed to the evil hearted coward he was in the myths. This also happens to him in the miniseries to the point of him being The Ace. Naturally, this results in Menelaus getting hit with...
- Adaptational Villainy: Yes, just like the later film Troy Menelaus gets hit with this trope. Despite this however, he does come across as being sympathetic. With the exception of Menelaus and Achilles, all of the Greek Kings are basically pirates who want to loot Troy for its treasures.
- Agamemnon and Achilles both get hit by this pretty hard in the miniseries. Agamemnon makes his Troy counterpart look like a Disney villain and Achilles is a glory obsessed brute.
- Adapted Out: Menelaus and Helen's children Hermoine and Nicostratus; Philoctetes, etc.
- Age Lift: With a beard like that it is pretty obvious that Achilles is not fifteen years old at the start of the war.
- Ancient Grome: Odysseus is called by his Roman name "Ulysses."
- Anti-Villain: Menelaus comes across as being heartbroken when he realizes that Helen loves Paris and even more so when he is informed of her having left with Paris.
- Badass Beard: Priam, Achilles, Menelaus, Agamemnon, Ulysses and thats only naming a few.
- Big Bad: Averted. Menelaus is meant to be this but he comes across as being so sympathetic that he seems to be more more a Hero Antagonist.
- Agamemnon is the main villain of the miniseries however, no aversion.
- Big Good: Priam for Troy.
- Blood Knight: Achilles, Ajax, the Spartans, Polydorus
- The Cassandra: She appears in both the 1956 film and the miniseries.
- Cassandra Truth: She appears so it's only natural.
- Casting Gag: Priam is played by Cedric Hardwicke. In The Ten Commandments which came out that same year Priam of Troy is mentioned at the beginning of Act II. Who played Seti I in that movie? Hardwicke.
- Combat by Champion: Achilles vs. Hector. Anyone who knows the Iliad will know how this turns out.
- In the miniseries, the duel between Menelaus and Paris appears and nearly comes out accurately. After that duel, Hector challenges Agamemnon only for Achilles to challenge him and we all know what happens.
- Comic Book Adaptation: It received one by Dell, it is notable for sparing Paris. Three guesses what David Benioff read while he was writing the script for Troy.
- Composite Character: In the film Paris seems to have been combined with his younger brother Deiphobus. In the myths, after Paris was killed by Philoctetes before the Trojan Horse appeared on the scene, Helen was given to Deiphobus as his wife. In the sacking of Troy, Menelaus kills Deiphobus.
- Evil Genius: Due to Adaptational Villainy Ulysses comes out as this.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The Greek warriors wear black armour, Trojan warriors bluish-grey.
- Grey and Gray Morality: Despite portraying the Trojans as heroes and the Greeks as villains this does end up happening. While many of the Trojans are indeed good hearted people, Helen does come across as a bitch at some points. Just as Agamemnon, Ulysses and the Greeks are portrayed as pirates Menelaus and Achilles come across as being better off. Menelaus is indeed a sympathetic character who genuinely seemed to love Helen and was very much hurt when he realized that she loved Paris while Achilles is shown to have a strong relationship with his friend Patroclus leading to him seeking revenge for Patroclus' death.
- In the Back: Paris gets this from an an unnamed soldier during his duel with Menelaus.
- Hero Antagonist: Menelaus comes across as this in both the Wise film and the miniseries.
- Red Shirt: The only reason Polydorus exists. Even in the Iliad he is only there so Achilles can kill him.
- Spiritual Successor: The Trojan Horse which got its own successor with Fury Of Achilles. Ironicaly, this film is also a spiritual successor to a film called Ulysses, which is an adaptation of The Odyssey and also feature Rosana Podesta not as Helen but as Nausicaa.
- The film Troy can be considered a successor to the miniseries.
- Trojan Horse
- Twice Told Tale: It tells The Iliad from the Trojans point of view. In fact, there is only a few scenes that features the only the Greeks making this trope all too apparent.
- What a Drag: Achilles briefly drags Hector behind his chariot before Paris kills him.
The miniseries provides examples of:
- The Ace: As mentioned above Paris becomes this.
- Adapted Out: Patroclus does not appear.
- Anachronism Stew: Chinese men in Fu Manchu type clothing, Byzantium being mention, the Iron Age styled weapons and armour, etc.
- Ancient Grome: Polydeuces is called by his Roman name "Pollux"
- Bald of Evil: For some unfathomable reason, Achilles is bald despite in mythology he is quite clearly stated as having blonde hair.
- Cain and Abel: Early on Hector shows intentions to kill Paris to prevent Troy's fall.