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The Iliad became adapted into a film during 2004 called Troy, in which the story was both dramatically and subtly changed in its adaptation. A major difference in the film was that there were no intervening or actions of the gods whatsoever, whereas in the book, the gods were constantly playing an active role, ultimately effecting the outcome of the story. Further major changes included Achilles being just a human man, the combination of Briseis and Chriseis into one person, and the portrayal of emotions and imagery of certain characters throughout the film that subtly change the film with great impacts. One may think that these changes were awful and of poor taste however, it gives insight on what life would have been for the given characters without the gods, and the characters in a different light that in Homer’s story, whether it was a negative or positive one.
In the Iliad, Homer portrayed Achilles as both an angry and merciless, yet an emotional compassionate character with both god-like and humanistic traits that fed into his essential being: a demigod. Because of the lack of gods in the film, Achilles was never shown crying to his mother in the sea for his ‘prize’ back, therefore leaving the audience with a lack of empathy and resonation with Achilles. In turn, the deletion of this scene and aspect of gods showed Achilles in a darker light, as a warrior with lack of sympathy or emotions, possibly even a ruthless killer as Briseis saw him in the beginning of the film. On the topic of the involvement of the gods, the following events unfolded in the same results but in a different manner than originally written. In book XXIII of the Iliad, where Hector and Achilles battled, Achilles becomes a giant chasing after Hector, who was under the impression that Paris was by his side to help him defeat Achilles. The gods played a crucial role in determining the outcomes of situations such as Athena handing Achilles back his arrow when he had missed hitting Hector with it. Furthermore, without the involvement of Athena, Hector knew he was on his own the entire time, never misguided in the battle which would have resulted in giving Achilles the upper hand during battle. On the other hand, this could be seen as a good change considering that the help of the gods that favoured Achilles, was technically ‘cheating’ when they would help him in his battles. Additionally, with the lack of gods in the film, the plague and sickness was a very real thing and unexplained science instead of the priests and priestesses of Apollo praying to Apollo to cause an epidemic. Lastly, without the involvement of the gods, there are no comparisons to be drawn between humans and gods to see the outstanding similarities in the both, and for the audience to notice that the gods were just as petty and childish as the humans they played with. This is an extremely important change in that it gave the audience a loss of insight and characters a loss of guidance and protection.
Without the validation of the existence or involvement of the gods, there left doubt, little faith, and no fear for the gods in Troy the film. This is displayed when Achilles belittles Briseis for her beliefs in that he did not care for them, nor did he fear them. In the kidnapping, harm, and attempted sexual assault of Briseis, she attempts to kill Achilles his sleep. In this Hollywood adaptation where a love story must always be involved, Briseis and Achilles fall for one another, even though he killed everyone she ever loved and knew, choked her, threw her, and continues to be a monstrous murderer in her eyes. Nonetheless, with the integration of Briseis and Chriseis as one person, and love story involved, this grants Briseis overall protection under Achilles, and shows a softer side to him. While they are speaking in a tent, Achilles confides in a “secret” to Briseis “The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment may be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” As a result, Briseis views Achilles a more than just a killer, and more insightful than she may have thought. As they fall in love, the storyline has no kidnapped Chriseis to worry about. Furthermore, because Achilles killed her father, she has no one to be returned to other than Priam. This both makes the movie’s storyline simpler and love story more “flexible” in a sense.
Both Achilles and Hector are important characters that were shown in different perspectives than they were in the Iliad. In the Iliad, Hector was seen as cold and not as caring for his family meanwhile in the film adaptation, Hector was seen playing with his child and protecting his wife by showing her an escape passage if he were to die. Scenes and moments like these are not implemented within The Iliad, giving Hector less of a relatable and kinder image. While Achilles is still full of wrath, prideful, and extremely concerned about his legacy, he was not shown with the expression of emotions too often. As aforementioned with the lack of gods which included his mother Thetis, Achilles is not shown crying out to the sea for her, nor does he calm his temper from the help of Aphrodite when she comes from the heavens to tell him that he must be wise and work in the favour of the gods that protect him. As a result, Achilles in Troy was displayed as hot-headed, enraged, and merciless, especially after the death of his cousin Patroclus. What this turns into is a major shift of empathy when watching the film as opposed to reading the book. The Hector in the film is more relatable and the audience would be more likely to root for him rather than Achilles, who may be seen more as a ruthless brute with no care in the world for anything unless it is for his personal gain. Furthermore, even with this detrimental shift of the opinions of the audience, this also shifts into which side the audience would side with, regardless that the film and book were centred on Achilles.
The 2004 film Troy offered an immensely different perspective about the Wrath of Achilles that the original book The Iliad did. These changes by the director were extremely important in that they showed characters in a different, and potentially new light than the Iliad did, including how the gods were viewed. The changes in emotions, scenes, relations, motives, and events all changed how the audience reacted and felt towards the entire work with shifts both small and huge.
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