Most recent update:6/1/2004; 5:08:39 AM

 Friday, May 07, 2004


nonas maias

132 A.D. -- martyrdom of Juvenal (!)

300 A.D. -- martyrdom of Flavius at Nicomedia

1941 -- death of Sir James Frazer (The Golden Bough)

5:50:39 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Troy Flick Again

Here's a snippet of a review from the Sydney Morning Herald which might possibly give you an idea what to expect:

Even buff, studly and ripped to the max, Pitt's rangy Achilles concedes quite a few kilos to most of his opponents, including his movie-long nemesis Hector, prince of Troy, played by Eric Bana.

What to do? Give Brad one or two Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon moves that would deck the bigger guys.

Early on in Troy, Achilles has to kill a warrior giant named Boagrius - played by Nathan Jones, a 208cm-tall Australian body building champ from Surfers Paradise - and manages what might be the first kung-fu leap of the BC calendar. The gods, it seems, were not pleased by this fleet-footed choreography. Brad came down hard and - bitter irony, this - injured his Achilles tendon.


The film is so in tune with modern sensibilities that it even has a beach landing scene as gruesome as Saving Private Ryan's big opener - think wooden barges hitting the coast under a shower of arrows instead of amphibious vehicles under gunfire.

A severed limb is a severed limb whichever way you cut it.

Kind of interesting ... in Classics, we generally hold up the ancient world in an attempt to understand the modern; here, the movie makers have to hold up the modern in order to make the ancient understandable.

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CHATTER: Alexander Flick

A bit of gossip reveals who the historical advisor to the Colin Farrell Alexander the Great flick:

He may have earned himself something of a reputation as a tough, hard-living rebel with a colourful vocabulary. But rising Irish star Colin Farrell also has a softer side according to a historical advisor for his latest flick, Alexander The Great.

Speaking on Britain's BBC Radio 4 show, Oxford historian Robin Lane Fox revealed he has seen a very different persona to that usually presented by the notorious star.

"In a darkened room in a hotel in Bangkok we were seeing the final cuts of Anthony Hopkins' vast role in this film," explains Robin. "It is deeply moving. There we were, packed into a room surrounded by tattooed men in combat trousers and I'm afraid I was unable to stop myself from sobbing. [more]

Cf. Megastar's coverage ...

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CHATTER: Homer Tarantino

This is a good thing ... someone in the press has recognized the graphically violent images which Homer presented:

What may surprise is that the oldest author in Western literature, Homer, was way ahead of Hollywood. Of all the great writers, Homer was perhaps the most cinematic. He writes like a movie camera: Written details play in our minds as if we were seeing them on a screen.

In Homer's Iliad, when the Trojan warrior Hector has killed one of his Achaean (Greek) enemies, he "planted a heel against Patroclus' chest, wrenched his bronze spear from the wound, kicked him over flat on his back."

That's cinematic.

Critic Roger Ebert talks about a movie cliché he calls the "fruit cart," when a falling kung-fu fighter or a careening car knocks over a table or fruit cart and spills produce all over the screen.

In Homer's Odyssey, the hero comes home to find his estate infested with villains. He kills them all, starting with the head bad-guy.

"Odysseus aimed and shot Antinous square in the throat with the arrow's point stabbing clean through to the nape of the neck and out the other side. Antinous pitched to the side, his cup dropped from his grasp as the shaft sank home, and the man's life blood came spurting from his nostrils in thick red jets. His foot jerked forward and kicked the table and food showered across the floor, bread and meat soaked in a swirl of bloody filth."

Fruit cart.

It is especially in the area of graphic violence that Homer anticipates Hollywood.

There was a time in movies when the bad guy got shot, grabbed his chest and keeled over. In 1967, Bonnie and Clyde turned death by gunshot into a slow-motion ballet of bodies jerked like marionettes punctuated by squibs popping like bubble wrap.

Since then, Hollywood has upped the ante, and the ballet of graphic gore has gotten more sophisticated, more precise and more messy. No one can be shot nowadays without a shower of blood spattering the wall behind him like spray paint.

In just 20 lines of the Iliad, Homer kills off half a dozen heroes in bloody style. Here's a sampling:

"Thrasymedes stabbed Antilochus right in the shoulder and cracked through the bony socket, shearing away the tendons. Then he wrenched the whole arm out and down thundered Antilochus and darkness blanked his eyes. . . .

"Peneleos hacked Lycon's neck below the ear and the sword sank clean through, leaving Lycon's head hanging on his body by only a flap of skin. The head swung wide and Lycon slumped to the ground. . . .

"Idomoneus skewered Erymas straight through the mouth, the spearpoint raking through, up under the brain to split his glistening skull, teeth shattered out, both eyes brimmed to the lids with a gush of red and both nostrils spurting, mouth gaping, blowing convulsive sprays of blood. He was a corpse as he hit the ground."

Tarantino is playing catch up. [from the Arizona Republic]

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CHATTER: Troy Flick

Since there will obviously be discussions on this (there's already one on AegeaNet ... for some reason my own posts never get through), here's some info on the 'research' behind the Troy flick -- the source is the Malaysian Star, which apparently doesn't have a spellchecker:

ACCURACY, believability, realism and more realism – that’s the principle the design team lived by when they raised Troy from the ashes of history.  

However, because the story of Troy took place in 1,200BC very little information of it actually survived. As a starting point in their efforts to resurrect the ancient city and the civilisations which revolved around it, the production team made the British Museum their research centre.  

They studied the British Museum’s collection of objects excavated from archaeological digs in Turkey, where the city of Troy is widely believed to have stood and dug into books and research material.  

Apparently, there is much speculation as to what Troy really looked like during the period in which the events of The Illiad took place. 

“(Director) Wolfgang (Petersen) stressed that he wanted the film to be very believable and realistic. After doing a bit of research I realised everything was actually very small scale (in that period),” said production designer Nigel Phelps. “In 1200BC, the cultures that were prominent were the Mycanaeans and the Egyptians. What I did was combine the art and forms of the Mycanaeans with the grand scale of the Egyptians, in order to come up with a different vocabulary that was both authentic to the period and met the criteria of an epic film.”  

Phelps was the production designer for Judge Dredd, Alien Resurrection and the Michael Bay military epic Pearl Harbor. 

There is also a thematic element in designing the various cultures in the epic.  

“Agamemnon’s world is all about gold, wealth and property as opposed to the Spartans, who led such a barren, colourless existence and then when we get to Troy, there’s a lot of greenery and it’s very pleasant,” said Phelps. 

Malta, with its cliffs and rock formations, became the site for Troy while the beach where the 1,000-ship attack force was to land was in Mexico. 

Religious motifs also figure prominently in the ancient world. A 15m high statue of Zeus, God of Thunder, is surrounded by 4.6m high statues of other gods, each ornamented with a golden symbol of his or her own unique power.  


The Trojan horse is an iconic object and it has come to represent the tragic take of the Trojan wars. Building it in real life was a challenge.  

Phelps determined that the famous equine would not have wheels. 

“It’s sort of cliché and it didn’t really make sense. It seemed to me that seeing it in the beach for the first time with big wheels, it should also have a bow and a note saying: ‘Take me home’. The Horse had to be recognisable to the viewer without sacrificing realism. Thus, instead of digitally creating it, the production area actually built the mythical war horse. They first studied several reference materials, which included photos of a burnt, charred ship and a giant gorilla constructed entirely out of tires. Then three concept artists worked to establish the right look and once done, a sculptor took the sketch and created a 3D, 30cm model.  

The final grand 11.5m high, nearly 1,000kg Trojan Horse was carved by 12 polystyrene sculptors. The horse was so huge that it had to be built in two halves.  

It was then transported from its construction site at Shepperton Studios, London, in pieces to the Malta set. Constructed from steel and fibreglass fashioned to look like wood, the Trojan horse took weeks to assemble on the set.  [more]

Elsewhere, the same source has a guide to the characters ...

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LUDI: Rome: Total War

Reviews of this one have been turning up with increasing frequency, so here's the incipit of one of the longer ones from GameInfoWire:

Rome: Total War is the next generation in epic strategy gaming from the critically acclaimed and award winning Total War brand. The aim of the game is to conquer, rule and manipulate the Roman Empire with the ultimate goal of being declared as the Imperator of Rome. Set in a time when the mighty Roman Empire emerged to conquer the known world against powerful enemies, when gladiators fought to a bloody death in the Coliseum; when Spartacus defied the might of the empire; when Hannibal led his invincible army and his war elephants across the Alps to strike fear into the very heart of Rome itself; and when Julius Caesar finally smashed the Barbarian Gauls. This was a time of brutal confrontation between civilisation and barbarism, and of civil war as the ancient world’s only superpower turned on itself. [more]

Okay ... so the temporal setting is rather broad ... that's okay in videogame land. What's better, though, are some of the screen shots ... check it out (I'd post one or two here, but they're rather large).

4:55:17 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Attila: Scourge of God   
Bloodthirsty barbarian or benevolent ruler? Our profile portrays
Attila the Hun as he really was: shrewd, tough, and at times even
thoughtful. A man who, through intelligence and sheer force of
character, forged a loose confederation of nomadic tribes into the
most fearsome military machine of its time.

HINT = History International

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