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I’m happy that the film industry has seen fit to revive the cinema graphic art of making epics. While I am a fan of the well-written, well-acted small movie, especially anything featuring Meryl Streep, I have always enjoyed the action flic that sweeps across the screen.
I’ve often written of my lifetime love of Errol Flynn and his films. As a matter of fact, I’ve spent this afternoon turned into Turner classic Movies, watching Captain Blood, Charge of the Light Brigade and Robin Hood. I’ve seen the latter at least thirty times. I know the dialogue and every detail of costuming and set directions. I’m sure if anyone ever scanned my brain they would see Flynn as Robin Hood flashing around in cinemascope.
If the epic movies are based on books I’ve loved, all the better – so long as the book is faithfully transcribed to the screen. Usually a falling away from the written word riles me. This is one of the reasons I’ve avoided seeing the new film, Troy. At first I was looking forward to viewing it. Even though I’m not a Brad Pitt fan, he did look pretty good in the brief pre-release blurbs on TV.
After reading reviews when Troy was released, I began to have my doubts. In the first place, someone raised the question of what happened to all the mythology? I guess the producers figured the teenage girls who would flock to see Pitt as Achilles, wouldn’t have the foggiest knowledge of the Iliad. Here I was, thinking it would be modern filmmakers bringing the glorious story to a new life. I then learned that the credits state “based on Homer’s Iliad.”
Based on one of the greatest adventure stories ever written; one which has survived since the days of ancient Greece? Done without even the business of Paris being given Helen by the Goddess Aphrodite, thereby setting forth the whole plot, which ended in the destruction of Troy?
Also, how could Achilles have been immortal until shot in the heel by an arrow, which killed him immediately? I gather no mention is made of his mother holding him by the back of his baby foot and dipping him into magic waters in order to make him impossible to kill. When I first heard the myth, at an early age, I wondered why on earth his mom didn’t have enough sense to turn him over and dip him feet first, after headfirst.
Members of the family have seen the movie and reported back. They have all been raised on Greek mythology and found the movie to be lacking. I had planned on seeing it in a theater to enjoy the scope of it and the computer enhancing I thought would add so much. Even that proved to be disappointing.
Surely, I thought, the Greek’s wooden horse would be spectacular. Jamie informed me that it was one of the few things done correctly. In the poem, it was made of scrap lumber from the Greek warships, and Jamie says that exactly what it looks like. At eight dollars a seat, the whole idea of going to the theater to see it, was dumped.
I’ve never seen a Harry Potter movie, nor have I read the books, even though I deeply admire the Scottish lady responsible. In an interview, the director of the movie said he tried to duplicate the settings and actions as written. He said his greatest thrill came when kids who loved the books and saw the movies, told him everything was exactly as they had imagined it.
This is how I felt when I saw the Hornblower series on A&E television. The books had meant the world to my husband and me, and the films were breathing life into the written words.
Now, I’m looking forward to another epic based on a story I revere – the life of King Arthur. I will never forget my excitement at reading Idylls of the King in the seventh grade and later, the Sword in the Stone and Once and Future King in the 1960’s. The tale has been dramatized successfully several times and beautifully set to music in Camelot. There was an excellent television film on the possible sources of the Arthurian legend, again on A&E. It was a great seminar on the history of Britain. To my delight, I discovered that the Welsh actor who portrayed Hornblower will be playing Lancelot. So in the manner of a Brad Pitt groupie, I can hardly wait to see the movie, Arthur.
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