Helen of Troy (2003)
|Category||Action||Main Menu Audio|
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (83:06)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||John Kent Harrison|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Helen of Troy is going to polarise audiences. As with any film based on a well-known work, there are always going to be those that have a problem with the particular interpretation. The Greek legends as told in the Iliad are some of the most enduring stories ever told. They are part of our everyday language. The character Achilles and his famous heel have given us the name for a part of the human body and an expression for a single weakness. The Trojan horse is also very well known, as is the face that launched a thousand ships, none other than Helen herself.
They have used the legend as a basis for this story but in my opinion have strayed a fair distance from the original. The Gods, who always played a very prominent role in the Greek legends, are almost completely absent. There are other major differences, such as the portrayal of Achilles. If I remember correctly, he was supposed to be wearing a complete set of armour that left only one weakness. Wearing what he does in this film, it seems a little pointless when he gets shot in the heel. Also, his character does not follow the original either.
This is the story of Helen of Troy, but it is told from just about every side except Helen's. The story is told by focusing on the other characters around her, the effect she has on them and the actions they take because of her. This leaves the character of Helen with what appears to be almost a minor part in a film about her. Whether she is the beauty that would launch a thousand ships I will leave up to the viewer, but I reckon that she could launch at least seven to eight hundred.
Originally filmed for TV as a two part mini-series, the acting and story are definitely a notch above the usual TV fare. The special effects do leave a little to be desired, but this does not detract from what is a character driven film. The two halves are on the one disc with a total running time of 167 minutes. The scenery is spectacular and the sets and towns very good considering the budget.
Paris is the son of the King of Troy. As he is born, his older sister, Cassandra, who has visions of the future, tells the King that if the boy lives then Troy will be destroyed. The King orders the baby taken to the mountains and there to be left to die. He is rescued by a passing goat herder who raises the boy as his own. After the passing of time, the boy has grown into a man and while searching for a lost goat he enters a cave and there meets three beautiful women - three goddesses. They offer him the choice of love, power or riches. He chooses love and is shown an image of the lovely Helen.
Meanwhile, young Helen has been kidnapped from her home and during her rescue, her brother, the only heir to the throne of Sparta is killed. The King of Sparta blames Helen for this and throws her out of his household. There to pay tribute to the death of the heir are many other Kings from the surrounding area. They are all captivated by Helen's beauty, but worried by the curse that appears to follow her. Agamemnon, who is married to Helen's sister, desires Helen but the others prevent him from making a claim. His younger brother is also completely smitten by Helen. The kings all decide to make a pact. They will all place their rings in a jar and the one that wins will get Helen. To counter what appears to be the bad side of association with this woman, they swear that if anything takes Helen from the winner that they will all band together with their armies and go to any lengths to ensure her return.
Helen is treated atrociously by her new husband - he makes her walk naked through parties to show her off. Paris appears on the scene during one of these parties - he has been reunited with his family and sent as an emissary. Helen and Paris instantly recognize each other from the visions shown to them by the Goddesses and fall deeply in love. They escape and return to Troy, thus triggering the siege of Troy by the other kings who are driven by the pact that they have made. Of course, no Greek tragedy would have such a simple story and each of the characters has more motivation than appears on the surface.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. The acting is very good and the story is very well told. The battle scenes are a little disappointing as are the CGI of the thousand ships, but these don't really spoil what is a rollicking good tale.
Presented at what is probably its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.
The image is reasonably sharp and the shadow detail is good. There is no low level noise present.
The colours are very nicely rendered with good saturation. The occasional scene in bright sunlight is a little washed out but this is fairly rare.
There are no MPEG artefacts present and no film to video artefacts either. There is some minor grain present that occasionally is a little distracting. There are no other major film artefacts.
The subtitles are easy to read and accurate to what is being said. They include some audio cues as well.
This is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 83:06. It occurs in a fade to black between the two halves of the film and is thus invisible.
There are no problems with the dialogue quality nor with the audio sync.
The music is a lush orchestral score which I found worked very well with the film.
The surrounds were very disappointing. Other than the arrows used in the battle for Troy that made an appearance in the surrounds, the soundtrack is very front-heavy.
The subwoofer supports the soundtrack well but there is nothing spectacular that would shake the floor.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Region 1 gets a two disc set with this film. One of the discs is dual layered and the other single layered. Reviews of this set mention the difference in picture quality with the same length of material spread over two layers on the first disc and one on the second.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:
This gives us a very clear R1 winner.
Like Titanic, you know the ending to this story but that is not a problem - it is how they get to the ending that is important in these films. With a good cast and the focus on the human emotions surrounding the great legend, this is a enjoyable film to watch. My only regret is that they left out so much by eliminating the Gods and Goddesses from the plot.
The video is good.
The audio is a little disappointing.
The extras are missing.
|DVD||Skyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||B&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)|