Troy: Director's Cut (Blu-ray) (2007)
Featurette-Troy In Focus
Featurette-In the Thick of Battle
Featurette-From Ruins to Reality
Featurette-Troy: An Effects Odyssey
Featurette-Greek Ship Towing
|Year Of Production||2007|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Wolfgang Petersen|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Linear PCM 48/16 5.1 (4608Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
“Bigger. Braver. Bolder.” In May 2008, the extended Director’s Cut of Troy was finally released in Australia in High Definition. Troy was one of the most expensive films ever made, but it was severely trimmed for its original theatrical release in 2004. But with the support of Warner Bros., Director Wolfgang Petersen has finally delivered his original artistic vision. With a fresh re-edited master print, featuring over 30 minutes of new material, this new bloodier and more adult version runs for almost 200 minutes.
In the introduction recorded for this Director's Cut, Petersen claims that with the film having made its theatrical debut long ago, and having already made a lot of money, the “pressure is now off" and he was free to expand the scope of the film to allow his "characters to breathe". But it is not just the plot and characters that get more time, as Petersen has also added in a lot of graphic violence and gore, and some nudity, that was missing from the theatrical version.
While some Director’s Cut’s are harder to spot, such as Armageddon, which added a mere two minutes, Troy’s new additions are both often obvious and significant. For example, even the film's opening and closing scenes are different. But unlike some Director Cut’s such as Blade Runner, the basic structure and intent of the film remains the same. So what's new? Now more time is spent teasing out the romance between Helen and Paris, and the spite between Achilles and Agamemnon. The characters of Odysseus and Ajax also get far more screen time. The battle sequences are also slightly longer, and far more graphic. The love scenes between Helen and Paris, and between Briseis and Achilles, have been re-edited and reframed to include more nudity. Apart from these additional scenes, some of the editing within existing scenes has also been tweaked, to improve the film’s focus and continuity.
Unfortunately, all of this does not really solve some of the fundamental problems with the theatrical cut. As with the original version, this extended version of Troy remains a soap opera on a grand scale. Although there is a great deal to like about this new extended version of Troy, it remains so solemn, pretentious, and impersonal that it still fails to emotionally involve the audience with its characters. In a scene in Troy, Odysseus recruits Achilles to join the war by telling him: "This war will never be forgotten, nor the warriors who fight in it." While that is very true, the same can't be said of the film Troy.
"timeo Danaos et dona ferentis" (I fear the Greeks even when they bear gifts)
The original story of Troy is tied up in both mythology and history: According to legend, the unfortunate chain of events that led to the Trojan War started at a royal wedding. Many gods attended this wedding, but Eris, the goddess of discord (who was not invited), threw a golden apple marked "for the fairest" on to the wedding banquet. The goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each claimed it, and Zeus was asked to decide.
Cleverly not wanting to get involved, Zeus sent them to a prince named Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy (modern-day Turkey). Each of the goddesses tried to bribe Paris with the promise of wealth and kingdoms, except Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who promised to give Paris the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite.
There was just one small problem -- the most beautiful woman in the world was already married. This woman was Helen (AKA Helen of Troy or "The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships"), a half-mortal daughter of Zeus. Helen was married to King Menelaus of Sparta.
Paris travelled to Sparta, and Menelaus and Helen welcomed him as a guest. But Aphrodite worked her magic, and while Menelaus was away on a business trip, Helen and Paris eloped. Understandably, Menelaus was furious. Determined to win his wife back, he summoned all the Princes who had previously promised to protect his kingdom and Helen, and they all agreed to help him attack Troy. Menelaus' brother, King Agamemnon of Mycenae, was to lead the attack.
Along for the ride was the glory-seeking Achilles. When Achilles was a baby his mother had dipped him in the River Styx, which made him invulnerable. While no weapon could pierce his skin, he had one weak spot -- his heel, where his mother had held him while she dipped him.
What followed was the siege of Troy. After ten long years, and many deaths, the Greeks were ready to give up when the king of Ithaca, Odysseus, came up with a plan: The Greeks built an immense wooden horse (the Trojan Horse), and Greek soldiers hid inside it. After leaving the horse at the gates of Troy, the Greek army sailed away. The Trojans thought the Greeks had given up and had left the horse as a gift, and the horse was brought inside the impenetrable walls of Troy.
That night, after much celebration, the Trojans were fast asleep and the Greek ships secretly returned. The soldiers in the wooden horse slipped out and opened the city gates, and the Greek army quietly entered Troy. The Trojans awoke to find their city on fire, and many Trojans were massacred in the fighting that followed and many of the Trojan women were subsequently enslaved.
During the fighting, Odysseus found Helen and returned her to her husband, Menelaus. He told Menelaus that Helen had helped the Greek attack. Believing that Helen was still loyal, Menelaus returned with her to Sparta where they lived happily ever after.
Interestingly, until the late19th century it was commonly accepted by historians that Troy and the Trojan War were purely fictitious. That was until Heinrich Schliemann began excavating an ancient city in Turkey in 1871. Despite having no formal training, and no education or experience as an archaeologist, and relying entirely on clues from Homer's epic poem, the Iliad, this retired businessman discovered the lost city of Troy, and plenty of its treasure.
There have been a few attempts to bring Homer's epic story to both the big and small screen with varying degrees of success. Well known examples include Robert Wise's Helen of Troy (1956), and the recent, relatively expensive television mini-series, Helen of Troy (2003). However, Petersen's $US200 million version is without doubt the most lavish and expensive telling of this tale.
The plot for Troy is described in the film's credits as being "inspired" by the Iliad. In other words, they grabbed the bits they wanted, and the plot to the film differs greatly. For example, the ending is completely different (I won't give it away). Also, some characters who die in the original story live in the film, and others who survive the original story die in the film.
Set 3200 years ago, the film's story begins with King Agamemnon (an excellent Brian Cox) sending the legendary Greek warrior (and truculent prima donna) Achilles (Brad Pitt) into battle, and we marvel at Achilles' amazing fighting ability.
Meanwhile, the impetuous and passionate Paris (Orlando Bloom), Prince of Troy, is seducing the gorgeous Helen (Diane Kruger), Queen of Sparta. Impulsively, the two elope and travel to Paris' home in Troy. Helen's husband, Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), is furious, and when his trophy wife is not returned, Menelaus' greedy brother Agamemnon sees his opportunity to expand his empire and gain control of the Aegean Sea.
A coalition of Greek forces, led by Agamemnon, sail to Troy. A beautifully CGI-rendered and seamlessly composited vast armada of 1000 ships carrying Greek troops land on the shores of Troy and a scene which could be described as "Saving Princess Helen" follows, as Achilles and his soldiers storm the beach under heavy fire from the Trojans.
During the siege war that follows, Achilles will face the renowned and intense warrior, Hector (Eric Bana), the brother of Paris, the eldest son of King Priam (Peter O'Toole), and the hero of Troy. In a side-plot, a love story has been thrown in for Achilles, involving Priam's kidnapped daughter, Briseis (Rose Byrne), to soften up his deliberately hard-edged, mercenary image, and to make him . . . well, heterosexual.
Film is a visual medium, and the original story is very, very long, so I can understand that many changes needed to be made. But in a bizarre move, all of the mythology of the original legend has been removed, and the story is rather presented as a historical epic, and not a mythological tale. I feel this was a great loss. I understand Petersen saw the Gods as "silly and unnecessary to the plot", but when you consider the popularity of recent films or television series such as Lord of the Rings, Beowulf, Hercules, Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Merlin, I think audiences would be more accepting of mythology than Petersen gives them credit for.
However, for me, the biggest problem with Troy is David Benioff's overly simplified screenplay: Even in the extended version, he still manages to reduce a ten-year war to what appears to feel like just a week or so, he reduces Paris and Helen's romance to dopey teenage "I love yous", and a lot of the dialogue is empty rhetoric, with Achilles barking empty catch-phrases such as "Immortality! Take it! It's yours!". Indeed, the film is so solemn, pretentious, and impersonal that it fails to emotionally involve the audience with the characters. I recall seeing this film at the cinema and not really caring if any of the characters were killed. It's a pity that some of that $US200 million spent on the film couldn't have been spent on a script-doctor.
The quality of Petersen's direction also varies. On one hand, he brings epic and complex action scenes with awesome set pieces to life with great precision. On the other hand, almost everything in Troy looks and feels fake. Many of the amazing sets and costumes, look like . . . well . . . amazing sets and costumes. Rather than looking like soldiers dragged into a brutal, soul-crushing, ten-year campaign, the men often look like they've just shown up that morning, and had some dirt or dust rubbed onto them. Their weapons don't look used, and the buildings don't look lived in.
For me, apart from the stunning visuals and the beautifully fluid camera work, the most outstanding thing in Troy is Achilles' fight scenes. Over many months, Brad Pitt was trained by swordsman Steven Ho, and he swings his sword with a poetically elegant and deadly style.
There is a lot to marvel at in both versions of Troy: The eye-popping visuals, seamless CGI-rendered grandeur, and the epic battle scenes, but if the same attention to detail had been applied to the rest of the film, as it has to Pitt's swordplay, Troy might have been a truly classic epic film.
Visually Troy is stunning, and the BD's high definition transfer is truly magnificent, and noticeably more striking and more detailed than the DVD's transfer.
The film now has a more sun-drenched and colourful look, which suits the story well. The 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer is beautifully presented widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in a native 16x9 frame.
As one should expect with a high definition transfer, the sharpness of the image is excellent. For example, consider the perfect delineation in the sweeping aerial shot of the invading army at 63:59, or the fine detail in Agamemnon 's bejewelled armour at 4:38. The sharpness of the BD's transfer is noticeably better than that of the DVD's. For example, with the high definition transfer, consider the intricate detail now visible in the aerial shot of the defending Trojan army and the walls of Troy at 84:16. The black level is excellent throughout with true, deep blacks. The film intentionally has a very brightly lit appearance and the shadow detail is good.
The colour was excellent on the original DVD with a precise colour palette which brought to life the harsh desert hues, as well as the blacks, silvers, and whites of the costumes and armour. But what really stands out now is the boost in the film's colour saturation. For example, consider the sparkling turquoise water at 33:24 and compare it with the same, now rather bland, shot in the theatrical cut. This new version jumps off the screen, while skin tones remain accurate.
The BD's transfer has an average bit rate lower than what I have seen on other BDs that I have reviewed. It ranges between 15-20 Mbps, compared to 25-30 Mbps. But there are no problems with MPEG artefacts, such as pixelization. There are also no problems with Film-To-Video Artefacts, such as aliasing or telecine wobble. An all-new, pristine print was used for the transfer, and I never spotted any film artefacts.
English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Chinese subtitles are included. The English ones are accurate.
This is a BD-50 (50 GB) disc. The feature is divided into 45 chapters.
As an epic, battle-heavy film, Troy boasts an excellent and enveloping surround sound experience, and the BD's audio is wonderful. Again there is a noticeable improvement over the DVD.
Troy was originally released in the theatres with dts, SDDS, and Dolby Digital audio. The DVD offers four options for the feature: English 5.1 Dolby Digital encoded at 448 Kb/s, English Linear PCM audio encoded at 4.6 Mbps, French 5.1 Dolby Digital encoded at 448 Kb/s, and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital encoded at 448 Kb/s.
As mentioned above, the BD's Linear Pulse Code Modulation (Linear PCM) audio is encoded at 4.6 Mbps. Linear PCM is not necessarily lossless, but the higher the sampling-rate and the bit-depth, the closer the LPCM audio is to the original recording. Although LPCM is supported by the DVD standard, it is very rarely used because it requires such a high bit rate, which takes up valuable disc space. But with dual-layer BD's enjoying 50 GB of disc space, movies on BD can take advantage of uncompressed PCM as an audio option.
Despite all the extensive use of ADR, the dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent.
The musical score is credited to James Horner. As widely known, the film's original score by Gabriel Yared was replaced shortly before the film was released, as some thought it was a little too "old fashioned". You can still find Yared credited as the composer in some of the film's early trailers. Horner's original score seemed to be inspired by one of my favourite film composers, Hans Zimmer, and it featured both a sweeping orchestral approach as well as a minimalist percussion with ethnic vocal style. I particularly enjoyed the sequences with the latter. But as also widely known, only given about five weeks to compose the replacement score, Horner recycled some of his earlier work, such passages from Braveheart (1995) and Enemy at the Gates (2001). For Troy, Horner also "borrowed" musical phrases from Russian composers, Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff. With this new film version, we get a re-edited score, but not a new score. Sadly, much of what I liked in the original, the percussion and ethnic vocals, have been removed. For example, the drums that perfectly built the dramatic tension in the Achilles and Hector fight scene are sadly now gone.
As with the DVD, the surround presence and activity is immersive and impressive, and it really adds a lot to the film. The surround sound mix is very aggressive, and the rear speakers are used throughout to help carry the score and to provide ambience. As I have noticed with other BDs, there is also a very noticeable improvement in the clarity of the sound in the rear speakers.
The film has a great LFE track to support the score, and the subwoofer is utilised very effectively throughout.
|Surround Channel Use|
Troy has a number of interesting and genuine extras, some new, and some recycled.
As with other BDs, the menu can be accessed while the film is playing.
Introduction by Wolfgang Petersen (2:30)
Described as "Director Wolfgang Petersen's decision to revisit the film and his original vision", Petersen explains how now freed of running-time constraints and the film's theatrical rating, he could finally present the film as it was originally intended.
Featurette-Troy In Focus (23:06)
In this behind-the-scenes featurette, Petersen discusses various aspects of the film's production. The featurette is presented in standard definition with stereo audio, and is divided into eleven chapters:
Featurette-In the Thick of Battle (17:12)
Featuring behind the scenes footage and interviews, this featurette focuses on designing, staging, and filming the massive battle scenes and individual fights in the film. The featurette is presented in standard definition with stereo audio, and is divided into five chapters:
Featurette-From Ruins to Reality (14:00)
This featurette looks at the locations, production design, sets, and props of the film. The featurette is presented in standard definition with stereo audio, and is divided into six chapters:
Featurette-Troy: An Effects Odyssey (10:52)
This featurette looks at the extensive use of special effects, especially the excellent CGI work, in the film. The featurette is presented in standard definition with stereo audio, and is divided into seven chapters:
Featurette-Attacking Troy (15:13)
This featurette includes an eclectic mix of new, but very brief, material relating to the film. The featurette is presented in standard definition with stereo audio, and is divided into three chapters:
Greek Ship Towing (1:25)
This is a very short 'gag reel' of CGI material.
Theatrical Trailer (2:07)
Presented in standard definition, in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo surround audio.
In terms of content, this Director's Cut appears to be much the same BD as was released in the US. Both versions main audio option is English PCM 5.1 Surround (48kHz/16-Bit/4.6mb/s), but the US BD has its English Dolby Digital 5.1 option encoded at 640kb/s, not 448 Kb/s.
I recall that great film critic Homer Simpson once saying: "Your movie is more boring than church!" Although this extended version of Troy is much improved and is an enjoyable epic film with some grandeur and a lot of excitement, it still remains rather shallow, and it is still weighed down with a number of boring sequences which lack the sparkle of the exciting set-pieces. This is certainly no Spartacus, Gladiator, or Ben-Hur! Indeed, I still don't think either Homer would approve.
The video quality is excellent. This BD is now the best way to enjoy Troy at home.
The audio quality also excellent.
While many are recycled, the extras are genuine and interesting.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic High Definition 50' Plasma (127 cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Samsung Pure Digital 6.1 AV Receiver (HDMI 1.3)|