There may come a time when you’re standing in the stacks, book in one hand, DVD in the other. What to do!?! Have no fear. It’s Book vs. Movie.
Every semester, time-strapped Western Humanities I students stumble into the library needing desperately to read some poem by a guy named Homer. Initially upset to find out that Homer’s last name is not “Simpson,” spirits are lifted by the discovery that there exists a movie adapted from this mighty long tome. And it stars Brad Pitt. Squee!
Troy wasn’t … well, it wasn’t all bad. It’s about what you would expect out of a historical epic made into a movie starring Brad Pitt as Achilles. And by that, I mean it’s really half about displaying his biceps. I’m not complaining. Pitt did a pretty good job of conveying the mix of arrogance and anger that the poetic character displays. Likewise, Eric Bana as Hector portrays the hard choices that Hector must make with great feeling. But let’s be honest, Troy really isn’t The Iliad. I mean, the bones of the plot are there, but all the meat is missing (there’s a pun there somewhere–something about biceps).
Film pet peeve? Trojan set looks like it was made by the Greek version of Ikea.
On the other hand, The Iliad offers much more nuanced character development than the action movie. Within the first 500 lines, Achilles, broken-hearted because his girl is taken away, cries … for his mom. Where The Iliad really shines isn’t in its violence or partial nudity, but its ability to hold up relationships as the mirror of the self — Achilles is both heroic and horrible because of his love for other people. In other words, the watered down familial ties between Achilles and Patroclus in Troy doesn’t come close to matching the bromance of The Iliad.
Book pet peeve? Yes, it’s long. And there’s a lot of name dropping. But it’s worth it. I swear.
What about you? Book or movie?