Given that Paris is said to be a huge womaniser, is it possible he really loves Helen? Or is he just going to drop her when he gets bored, and move onto another woman who takes his fancy?
Did Briseis only fall for Achilles out of Stockholm Syndrome?note Unlikely since her behaviour does not show any sign of Stockholm Syndrome, which involves attachment even while being abused. Or was she genuinely impressed by him not being a total "dumb brute"? Or a third camp suggests that she may have decided to become his lover out of pragmatism - as Achilles was at least decent to her and therefore a better option than being gang raped by the other men. Another way to read their sex scene is that she may have expected she would be raped soon, and chose to give herself to Achilles as a way of making sure she at least had some choice in losing her virginity.
The film drops the Greek Gods from the plot, but employs Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane. Achilles says that he's seen them personally. Julie Christie appears as Thetis - who was a sea goddess - and spends the entirety of her scene in the water, which seems to be a hint to her being a goddess. Achilles defaces the statue of Apollo and eventually loses his cousin, and dies just as he's about to be with the woman he loves. So the Gods very well could be manipulating events offscreen.
Helen nearly giving herself up to the Greeks after the first day of battles. Does she think it will help, and wants to prevent further bloodshed on her account? Or does she know it's hopeless, and just wants to be punished in some way to relieve her guilt?
Achilles being portrayed as blond seems like Adaptational Dye-Job except he is actually described as golden-haired in the myths.
Patroclus actually was a kinsman of Achilles and they were not lovers in the Iliad, but merely close friends. The portrayal of them as lovers is Post-Homeric.
The equipment of the armies in the movies was mostly rather un-Hellenic and bears little resemblance to the Hoplites of antiquity (exceptions like Achilles's myrmidons notwithstanding). Though it's debatable whether the attire we see on screen is historically correct, we can say for sure that a traditional Hellenic look the viewers most likely are used to would definitely have been out of place: The events the Iliad was modelled after had taken place hundreds of years before the rise of Athens and Sparta and the times of Classical Greece, and before the Bronze Age Collapse.
Base-Breaking Character: Patroclus is either a Woobie who just wants to fight for his people and his death is one of the ultimate tragedies, or an immature brat whose idiotic pride got a lot of innocent people killed.
And for the reverse, Diane Kruger walks around with beautiful golden long hair, occasionally nude (and you see much more in the extended cut) and the camera is all too happy to show off her beauty. She was immediately included on People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" list that year - at Number 44.
On whether Helen deserves sympathy or not. Those who say she doesn't point out that she started a war and gets away scot-free, while showing minimal guilt. Those who think she does deserve sympathy point to her attempt to give herself back to the Greeks, and the look between her and Hector before he goes to fight Achilles - where she is clearly sorry for what she's done. Other characters point out that Helen's elopement was merely an excuse for the Greeks to invade - and that Agamemnon outright says he only wishes to conquer Troy, regardless of Helen. It's up to the viewer whether this is Character Shilling or not.
There's also the reduction of the siege from ten years to a number of weeks or months. Some claim They Changed It, Now It Sucks! and wonder why they'd even adapt the story if the ten year siege was going to be shortened. Others argue that there would be no way to properly make a ten year war work in a film - and that the gist of the story is intact. They also point out that The Iliad did not actually depict all ten years either. The Iliad shows the period of Achilles in His Tent, then Hector's death and funeral. A period of few weeks, which ends up being the middle-act of the film, with the opening scene and finale borrowed from events mentioned second hand or in later epics.
Other changes from the source material like the gods not having onscreen roles, what or who else gets left out, and which people die instead of survive and vice versa help make this film divisive but at least ripe for interesting discussion among fans of Classical mythology and literature. For instance, those who wish the gods had a more visible presence would essentially prefer the film be in a different subgenre, from just "historical-style" sword and sandal to more overt "fantasy" sword and sandal like Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, the latter of which was remade six years after Troy. Those who are fine with no visible gods are often interested in the inherent Demythification approach the film takes.
Critical Backlash: Despite being roasted by critics and seen as only mildly entertaining at best when it first came out, there are many fans who enjoy the movie on its own merits; enjoying the action scenes, spectacular production values and characterization of several figures.
Ajax actually dies very early on in the movie, before it's even got to the one hour mark in the extended version. You wouldn't know it thanks to Tyler Mane making him such a Memetic Badass. He gets a lot of love for taking forever to die.
Odysseus as well of course, given that he's played by Sean Bean, in one of the roles where he's not the villain and doesn't die.
Andromache doesn't get as many scenes as Helen or Briseis, but she's pretty popular for Saffron Burrows's Silk Hiding Steel performance and chemistry with Eric Bana.
With Achilles' trademark finisher resembling a certain leaping assassination technique from a certain video game series and at least three of the Greco-Roman gods comprising the First Civilization, maybe Achilles was really an Assassin. Amusingly, there really isan Assassin named Achilles.
The fact that this is one of the few movies where Sean Bean's character (Odysseus) doesn't die, a movie where over half the named cast members die, ranks up there as well.
A major plot point is Achilles getting sick of being at Agamemnon's beck and call. Which happens every week in the first season of LBX: Little Battlers eXperience.
Sean Bean plays Odysseus here and would later play Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, in the film adaptation of Percy Jackson.
Word of God is that the filmmaker didn't want Helen to appear in the film, feeling no actress could live up to the audience's expectations. He compromised by casting an unknown actress - and half the press came from journalists snarking that Diane Kruger wasn't pretty enough.
Diane Kruger makes things go very badly for Rose Byrne here. A couple of years later, they starred together in Wicker Park - where Byrne gets her own back. She splits up Kruger's relationship and tries to sleep with her boyfriend in her place. Furthermore Byrne's character in Troy chooses to become a virgin priestess, whereas in Wicker Park she's sleeping with two men.
The film stars William Stryker, Vanisher and Moira Mc Taggart from the X-Men filmsnote Bryan Cox was Styker in X-Men 2, Byrne played Mc Taggart in two films and Pitt had a brief appearance as Vanisher in Deadpool 2.
Ho Yay: When Achilles gives his Rousing Speech, Eudoras is seen looking at him in a way that's clearly meant to show how much he respects Achilles - but ends up looking like he's gazing lovingly at a crush. Understandable, because— again—Brad Pitt in a skirt. In addition, his devotion to Achilles seems romantic at times, and they even part with Achilles kissing him on the forehead.
Improved by the Re-Cut: The Director's Cut is widely considered to be superior. It includes more sex and violence, more Character Development (especially for Odysseus and Priam) and there's more of the actual Sacking of Troy.
It Was His Sled: Oh, so very much. From who in the movie dies, to the Greeks succeeding in destroying Troy.
Just Here for Godzilla: Although the impetus for starting the war, Helen is actually in the film less than one would expect. However, she has plenty of fans for Diane Kruger's beauty and subtly heart-breaking performance. Indeed, this is one of the more sympathetic takes on Helen - where she was more commonly seen as either a Cosmic Plaything, Damsel in Distress or Manipulative Bitch beforehand. Many would watch the movie just for Helen.
Achilles stands outside Troy and screams "HECTOR!" at the top of his lungs over and over for about five straight minutes, while Hector inside the city gradually says his goodbyes to his father, brother, wife, fellow soldiers, etc, all while the audience can hear Achilles still yelling outside the walls. It's a wonder Achilles hadn't lost his voice by the time Hector finally emerged for their duel.
In the director's cut, there's the Trojans' hilariously over-the-top behavior at the funerals after the first battle. A One-Woman Wail plays as several widows are Milking the Giant Cow.note Actually Truth in Television. Ancient cultures had professional "mourners" who were hired to perform at funerals.
Ajax's Badass Boast to the Trojans comes across as unintentionally funny, as they're all too busy fighting for their lives to hear him.
Ajax: I AM AJAX, BREAKER OF STONES! LOOK UPON ME AND DESPAAAAIR!
Agamemnon's war cry after watching Hector kill Menelaus is very hilarious.
Narm Charm: Achilles vs. Hector is clearly heavily choreographed that it looks more like a dance in places than a fight. But is it still a kickass fight scene? Absolutely.
Julie Christie appears in just one scene as Thetis, and yet manages to be very memorable. It helps that Thetis is the only deity to appear in the film, and it's left open whether or not she actually is one.note Achilles later tells Briseis that he's seen the gods, and Thetis spends her whole scene standing in the ocean - which could be an implication that she's the daughter of Poseidon.
Nestor has very little screen time, with only one big dialogue scene, and yet John Shrapnel is very well remembered. Ditto for Julian Glover as Triopas.
The Scrappy: Paris is not well liked by fans due to starting the whole war to begin with, killing Achilles in the end, and getting away with it all. Even Orlando Bloom didn't think too highly of the character, calling him a cowardly wimp. Granted, this is accurate to legend... not that it stops the movie from trying to salvage his character somehow.
The actual sacking of Troy, especially in the Director's Cut. Along with King Agamemnon's monologue during the sacking: "Let it burn. Let Troy burn. Burn it. For Menalaus. Burn it. Burn Troy. I promised you, brother. I promised you. Burn it. Burn it for Menalaus."
So Okay, It's Average: Generally felt to be one of the weaker entries during the early 2000s wave of big budget fantasy costume epics, but generally works better when simply taken as a big summer action film than as an adaptation of its source material.
As seen above, this film and its qualities are a matter of great debate. What is not, however, even among trained Classicists, is the quality of Peter O'Toole in his turn as Priam during his scene in Achilles' tent. That is the original Iliad, with all of Priam's pain and loss, realised.
One could argue that Diane Kruger imbues Helen with a lot of sincere emotion and character layers that one can't help but sympathise with her, even after all the trouble she's caused, and elevates the character far above the Ms. Fanservice she was intended to be.
Saffron Burrows likewise brings plenty of gravitas to the role of Andromache that one could be forgiven for assuming her scenes are straight out of The Trojan Women.
Achilles was planning to sail home and live a new life with Briseis. Then Patroclus decides to impersonate Achilles and fight as him. Hector killing him sparks Achilles into fighting Hector to the death. Achilles later dies during the fall of Troy. While the wooden horse thing may have happened anyway, Patroclus' actions led to his cousin being killed, and Hector's child being left fatherless. All because of Honor Before Reason.
The film expects us to empathize with Paris at least to an extent, (he is admittedly a much more mature person by the end of the film instead of the petulant child he was at the start of it) but the whole Trojan War being somewhat his fault (he gave Agamemnon the pretext he needed to launch an invasion), his extremely petty and infantile reasons for doing so (which involve stealing another man’s wife, albeit a trophy wife who bore no love for him, which is especially bad when you consider, as a handsome and charming young prince of Troy, he can presumably have just about any woman he wants), and his Dirty Coward behavior, both in the duel with Menelaus (he makes a big deal about how he’s going to settle it just between the two of them, only to pussy out and beg his brother to save him when he begins to lose after he explicitly said that he wouldn’t do that, leading to the truce being broken and more bloodshed on both sides) and his treacherous killing of Achilles (shooting him with an arrow whilst his back is turned and he's standing literally right next to Paris's own cousin) in revenge for his killing of Hector (which you can of course easily argue is just as much Paris's fault, perhaps even more so), plus the fact that he apparently gets to survivecompletely unscathed despite all the ruined lives he is partially responsible for by the end of the film, make him very hard to sympathize with.
Andromache who must watch as her husband is killed and their baby left fatherless. Things don't end well for her in the original mythology either.
Despite the mess she causes, Helen is still fully aware of everyone she's condemned to death. She even tries to give herself up to the Greeks, despite knowing it will do nothing, all because of her guilt. What's more is that she was trapped in an unhappy marriage since her teenage years. Paris was the one thing that brought her happiness, and because of it a war got started.