Near everyone knows the whole story of the fall of the ancient city of Troy – Helen of the face who launched a thousand ships; Trojans and Spartans and fighting galore; even that damnable gigantic horse. Troy Fall of a City gives us a dramatic retelling of Homer’s classic, so gird your loins and here we go!
Movie Moxie particularly loves Greek and Roman legends, so we watch all kinds of films and television shows featuring such stories. More often than not, the presence of the various Gods and Goddesses are removed entirely from the story of Troy, not even mentioned, as though they were ashamed to even consider such a thing. This version of Troy begins right off with the challenge of the Golden Apple, given to orphaned sheepherder Paris (Louis Hunter), to give to the Goddess he finds the most pleasing from among Hera (Inge Beckmann), Athena (Shamilla Miller), and Aphrodite (Lex King). Zeus himself (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) conducts the proceedings disapprovingly, and no-one is surprised when Paris gives the Apple to Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and y’know other things, as she promised him the most beautiful woman in the world as a reward.
From there it’s a quick jump to begin Paris on his journey to becoming a major Prince of Troy, because as it turns out there was a prophecy at his birth that Alexander, as he was originally named, would burn down Troy. His flamed birthmark gives mute evidence to Paris’ true nature, and King Priam (David Threlfall) and Queen Hecuba (Frances O’Connor) of Troy embrace their long-lost son, despite prophetic warnings from poor Cassandra (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), and misgivings from Andromache (Chloe Pirrie), Hector’s wife, and plenty of others. Hector (Tom Weston-Jones) himself has tons of misgivings, but given the circumstances in which they met, that’s plenty understandable. Priam conceives of the idea of sending Paris with tribute to Sparta, getting him out of the way in Troy and hopefully cementing his place as a Prince of Troy in other lands.
The fact that it was Spartan general Agamemnon (Johnny Harris) who won Helen’s hand amongst the suitors originally, and that he gave his prize to his brother Menelaus (Jonas Armstrong), is bruited about fairly often – no-one can seem to agree who the Spartan Queen Helen (Bella Dayne) should actually belong to. But then along comes Paris, ostensibly as an ambassador with tribute from Troy to pay homage to Sparta, and oh do the sparks fly when he meets Helen. Buoyed by the visits from Aphrodite and her reassurances, Paris strives to convince Helen to run away with him, back to Troy. And after some serious sleight of trunk, that’s exactly what Helen does.
Cue tons of hornet-mad Spartans preparing to rally and come all the way to Troy to take Helen back, by any means necessary. But no-one expected the Gods’ interference, and Agamemnon makes the hard choice to sacrifice that which he holds most precious, for a fair wind to get their men and ships to Troy. Despite attempting all sorts of subterfuge to prevent himself from being forced into it, that old schemer Odysseus (Joseph Mawle) gets roped into going Trojan hunting too. And of course, God-touched Achilles (David Gyasi) and his Myrmidons are expected to join the battle, forthwith.
At last, war! And this is a war that lasts for almost a full decade, which is something other films and TV shows have failed to get across in their telling of the Trojan war story. ‘Fall of a City’ often makes a point of telling the viewer just how much time has passed inside the show, and it is a helpful reminder. The slaughter of Trojan allies guarding a nearby mountain kingdom with a potential escape passage is just the first of many atrocities the Spartans visit upon the Trojans, but not all the vitriol is reserved for the enemy, and indeed, it seems as though Agamemnon takes some delight in terrorizing his own men too.
A whole bunch of issues stem from problems with Achilles, his boyfriend Patroklos (Lemogang Tsipa), and the warrior Myrmidons Achilles was supposed to bring with him for Spartan usage against those damnable Trojans. Matter of fact, there is dissension in the ranks of the entire Spartan armada – Odysseus can’t help but act like a spy rather than a soldier, Menelaus just can’t let the slight to his manhood go at all, dude, and by all the Gods, Agamemnon is just a downright savage asshole, to pretty much everyone around him, ally and enemy alike. As the war wages on and the Spartans and their allies begin to grumble, Agamemnon gets markedly worse in his cruelty, and the Gods are beginning to interfere.
All of this madness and testosterone, in theory for a single woman, the Queen of Sparta won in a test of arms and given like a gift to his brother, the one and only Helen. This version of Helen is somewhat different, in that while yes she simpers after Paris all the way to Troy, she’s also calculating and at times genuine, all wrapped up in a mystique of a beautiful womanly package. This Helen knew Achilles when they were both young, and trying to hide this fact is a minor ongoing storyline, one that could have led to her utter downfall more than once. This Helen loves Alexander, or as she calls him Paris, with all wayward fervor, and yet even she is horrified at what befalls Troy over the course of long years of war. Over her. This Helen also gets some really great costumes, they truss her up in savage Spartan Queen finery, all predator teeth and beautiful seashells, gorgeous in her savagery. And lastly yes in almost every incarnation of Helen I’ve ever seen, she was always portrayed as a blonde – this Helen is obviously dark of hair, but personally I thought it became her.
For a refreshingly darker take on a familiar epic fable, one that includes the Gods’ presence and all the foibles and glories of our beloved characters, see Troy: Fall of a City on Netflix now!