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British historian Bettany Hughes tours the eastern Mediterranean in search of facts behind the legends of "the face that launched a thousand ships," exploring the ways Greeks made love and war circa 1300 B.C.
Prince Paris of Troy, shipwrecked on a mission to the king of Sparta, meets and falls for Queen Helen before he knows who she is. Rudely received by the royal Greeks, he must flee...but fate and their mutual passions lead him to take Helen along. This gives the Greeks just the excuse they need for much-desired war. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Average Shot Length (ASL) = 6 seconds, very fast for an early CinemaScope film. See more »
When examining the wooden horse, Ulysses tells his friend that the Trojans will give thanks to Athena for their victory. The friend replies, "And to Bacchus, the god of grapes." Bacchus was the Roman god of wine, not Greek. The correct Greek equivalent was Dionysus. Throughout the rest of the film, the characters call the gods by their correct Greek names (Athena, Zeus etc.) See more »
[on seeing the Greek naval fleet approaching]
The face that launched a thousand ships!
See more »
HELEN OF TROY is a very respectable Hollywood sword and sandal effort from the 1950s, with a strong international cast and very good production values. Except ...
Why does every popular culture effort at retelling the Trojan War myth have to make Paris the hero? In the Illiad, by far the most significant and authoritative source of the story, at best shows Paris to be an ambiguous figure--the best looking man of his generation, but often a coward in battle. Helen expresses extraordinary contempt for him in one extended passage. In one or two brief sequences, Paris fights valiantly, but in his major appearance, his winner-take-all-and-Helen duel with Menaleus, after bragging and crowing about his prowess, he completely wimps out in the battle, and, once defeated, is transported by Aphrodite back to Troy to hide in his bedroom.
HELEN OF TROY is not the only effort to mis-read the Illiad into a Paris-and-Helen "runaway" love story. Perhaps in writing a commercial screenplay, that's what any writer would be forced to do. But that doesn't speak well for our popular culture, one that can't sustain the ambiguity and complexity of another culture--of 2700 years ago!
Still, the movie has its strong parts, particularly Stanley Baker as Achilles. Watch for Brigitte Bardot in an early, pre-star role as Helen's handmaiden.
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