Fury of Achilles (1962) Poster

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Powerful and Poetic!
steven-22224 February 2006
I've watched a number of Trojan War movies recently, and this may be the very best.

Like Homer's Iliad, it begins toward the end of the war and ends before the episode of the Trojan Horse; the focus is strictly on one man, Achilles, and his fate. A knowledge of the dramatis personae and the basic circumstances is presumed of the viewer, just as Homer expected his listeners to know who Paris was, or how Iphigenia died.

Unlike any other Trojan War film I've seen, this one, like Homer, includes the gods and their divine intervention in human affairs. Achilles' near-invincibility is a supernatural fact, as demonstrated in a scene when he's stabbed and the blade is destroyed as if blasted by lightning. Yet the film doesn't feel like a fantasy, as do similar films about Jason, Hercules, or Ulysses; it's a psychological drama in which the psyche of the main character is driven by his understanding of his divine destiny. An oracle has revealed that Troy cannot fall until its champion, Hector, dies; Hector cannot die until Achilles slays him; and once that happens, Achilles must die. This is the burden of greatness — and doom — that lies upon Achilles.

Even dubbed, Gordon Mitchell gives a powerful and convincing portrayal of the warrior who is both hero and monster. His physical presence is perfect: his physique is statuesque but his features are so rugged as to be ugly (think of Charles Bronson or Jack Palance); he is sexually alluring, physically intimidating, and frightening to look at.

The script is surprisingly, sometimes amazingly, literate, verging on the poetic. Especially memorable are Achilles' explanation of his invulnerability to the captured Briseis, which ironically reveals his vulnerability and wins her pity and affection; Patroclus' plea to Hector to kill him after he's been wounded; and Hector's farewell speech to his wife and the people of Troy before he goes out to battle Achilles. The climactic duel between the two warriors is very well-staged and utterly riveting.

I wonder if the makers of TROY saw this movie? If so, they learned nothing from it. If they had simply done a remake of this film, reproducing its insights into the tragedy of Achilles and Hector, Brad Pitt would be the possessor of an Oscar today!

Here's the rub: this movie is very hard to locate on DVD, at least in the US. The only copy I've found, on a compilation DVD called RETURN TO TROY, is from a very degraded full-screen print, hardly watchable by most viewer's standards. If this movie could be seen in a well-preserved widescreen print, it would be truly spectacular.
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Surprisingly Good
Squonkamatic24 July 2006
It's kind of silly to realize that Achillies -- played here by Gordon Mitchell, one of the demigods of cult cinema -- was also personified at one point by twig-boy turned actor Brad Pitt (in Wolfgang "One-Shot" Peterson's TROY, which basically tells the same story), who's career zenith still remains the stoner roommate from TRUE ROMANCE. The two performers and the two performances are incomparable, as are the two films, made four decades and a couple of continents apart. One is a silly computer enhanced vanity piece for a number of special interest causes, the other a low budget yet undeniably powerful genre film that was far better than it ever had to be. I will let you figure out which was which.

One should never confuse movies or their content with the "real world" (hello, Michael Moore!) since movies are ultimately meant to entertain those who watch them rather than serve as literal interpretations of history, facts, even legend or myth. A good working example is the ongoing debate amongst fans of the Western as to who was a better shot -- John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, or Lee Van Cleef. The answer is of course neither (Anthony Steffen gets my vote) since they were all actors and the gunplay was special effects work. BUT, if there was one film from the Peplum era of Italian sword & sandal films that I would recommend to a history professor who wants to help make Greek mythological history come to life, I'd pick FURY OF ACHILLIES. This is such a well-written and well acted film -- even when dubbed into English -- that the history it tells really does come to life. Much of that credit should go to Marino Girolami (father of Enzo G. Castellari, god bless him) and his choice of muscle-man turned genre star Gordon Mitchell as Achillies. Standing 6'3" and about 225lbs of sheer attitude, Mitchell is quite believable as the invulnerable, ultimate warrior of Greek mythology, and I will hazard to opine that Mr. Pitt was too busy having his nails buffed to bother watching this film to realize that the trick is not just in Mitchell's bulk but the way that he carries himself that makes his character SO much larger than life. Mitchell really carries this movie, which might be his finest hour behind the shield.

And as any performer will attest, if it isn't on the page it isn't on the stage: writer Gino De Santis' surprisingly poetic and verse oriented script is wonderfully faithful to the literary traditions that gave birth to such names as Achillies, Hector, Troy, and Odysseus. Special mention should be made of familiar genre face Mario Petri's portrayal of the agonized King Agamemnon, driven mad for power by the sacrifice of his young daughter to the gods. It is Agamemnon's agonized vanity that results in the film's dramatic meat & potatoes, highlighted by a number of genuinely moving funerary scenes, dramatic speeches, fights to the death, vows of allegiance or damnation. Here actually is the stuff of legends, realized on film with a sort of restrained grandeur by director Girolami who worked within the modest budget allotted to create a masterful telling of myth that is still quite human.

Most of these Peplum thrillers are silly spectacle films centered around a muscle-man hero, special effects set-pieces, sexy Veil Dances and maybe a duplicitous scheming Caesar or sorcerer pulling the strings of our hero. This time our hero is on his own, sort of thrust into his role of savior of his army & people's with little or no regards to how he may feel about it. That is what is often referred to as "fate", and if Mr. Peterson's film had managed to capture such universal indifference to our own petty concerns as mere mortals it might be remembered as something more than the film where Gladiators finally came out of their collective closet. Another point missed by TROY, HANNIBAL, the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and some of the other epic sweeping historical budget/event films of the mid 2000's is that these Italian Peplum potboilers were made with such low budgets that their directors, writers, set designers and performers had to rely on their wits, imagination, resourcefulness and iron necks to make what could have and often did result in films that were absurd. Here is one that didn't, and might be the best example of the Peplum thriller as a take on history that I at least have ever encountered. And is a wonderful example of humanity's penchant for story telling without the need for computer animated effects, which for my money always take the fun out of stuff like this by allowing you to bypass your own sense of imagination. This one engages it and is almost as good as the myths upon which it was based.

9/10, and very worthy of a proper restoration.
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Much better than Petersen's Troy!
liderc22 May 2006
This Italian epic movie really was a surprise for me. Except of the very clever way they changed the ending, it's quite true to the spirit of Homer's work (the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is changed into a friendship, of course, and a female love interest for Patroclus is introduced). The lead is a little bit stiff, but on the other hand that's maybe just the way they wanted Achilles to be! The direction is fantastic, giving the battle scenes at night a very theatrical feeling through the uncommon use of the lightning. Editing is surprisingly good, too, as are all the other actors. Carlo Savina's score is also a gem. It's really funny that this 60s movie beats Petersen's version in every category! A must-see! There is a German widescreen DVD, but image quality is not that good, possibly because of the shoddy company that gave the license. I hope a good English DVD will be available sometime!
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Italian adaptation of Homer's Illiad
Johnny B1 October 1998
One has to admit that this movie is found in a class of its own when compared to other Italian productions of the same genre. The plot is very true to Homer's epic and the film editing is very good. The only drawback is that the hero, portrayed by Mitchell is quite stiff - unfortunately acting is not his forte. However, fortunately, he is overshadowed by the acting of the other stars and so the result is entertaining in every respect.
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Excellent vision of classical psychology
marcus-fabius8 December 2011
I saw Achilles (1962) listed on my satellite TV programme guide and decided to see if it was better than the typical dubbed Italian muscle-man movie. Fear not, it is really good. It is one of the better films of the genre I have seen. It is a surprisingly moving film, very watchable and giving no impression of card-board background. Throughout the film, the well-paced and convincing battle-scenes are interspersed with many instances of well-written dialogue from the main characters, conveying the deeply humanistic motives running throughout the Iliad. There are no crass scenes: heroes show fear or nobility whilst kings betray their obligations or come to their senses and do the right thing. All the main characters emerge as real humans with all the flaws and virtues that characterise humanity. The scriptwriters get it just right many times.

As for the casting, Gordon Mitchell is just right as Achilles and gives a fine performance. This film is highly recommended.
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FURY OF ACHILLES (Marino Girolami, 1962) **1/2
Bunuel197629 April 2011
This is one of the earliest films I recall watching on Italian TV along with a couple of Maciste efforts; all have not turned up since then, so I was glad to catch ACHILLES again even if in an English-dubbed version (and a rather muddy print at that)! Incidentally, the copy I acquired ran for a hefty 115 minutes (some missing-frames issues probably explaining the 118-minute duration listed on IMDb) – yet, on the "Film.It.Tv" website, its length is given as just 92?!

Interestingly, the film makes for a variation on/companion piece to the superior THE Trojan HORSE from the previous year (though that one actually had an official sequel, albeit emerging a much-inferior product, in THE LAST GLORY OF TROY, also from 1962!). Although Achilles also appeared in the first of those titles, he was given his own 'vehicle' here; curiously enough, since this was helmed by Girolami, it is worth mentioning that his more famous director son – Enzo G. Castellari – would make his own modern-day rendition of The Trojan War with the entertaining HECTOR THE MIGHTY (1972)!

Anyway, muscle-man Gordon Mitchell is Achilles (demonstrating his essential lack of education by bursting into "Hi-yah!" yells when commanding his troops into battle rather than the more formal "Forward!" uttered by his peers Patrocles, Ulysses – played by "Euro-Cult" stalwart Piero Lulli and depicted as a greedy fellow – and Aegamemnon!). The titular rage, then, is certainly present in the hero's characteristics given his frequent outbursts but, obviously, it is a specific reference to the legendary 'unbeatable' warrior's revenge over buddy Patrocles' death when he surreptitiously dons Achilles' armor to face the enemy champion Hector; ironically, though much is made of the protagonist's own death occurring soon after that of Hector's, the film cuts abruptly following the latter's demise!

The film is certainly above-average for the genre but, as I said, still some way behind THE Trojan HORSE (for the record, this had starred Mitchell's rival in the field Steve Reeves) which, by largely eschewing the essentially low-brow nature of this one, had proved among the more literate peplums out there...
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The wrath of Achilles has never been better portrayed....
ccmiller14928 April 2007
"Fury of Achilles" is one of the few worthwhile films on the subject of "The Iliad." Achilles ( a fierce Mitchell) and Hector (a rugged Bergerac) both carry the film..and are well portrayed and the plentiful action is believable and well-staged. Like other fans of this film, I marvel at the superior product of a modest budget which far outshines the overblown "Troy." The only faults were the misrepresentation of the relationship with Patroclus and the fact that Queen Helen is neither seen nor barely even alluded to. And oddly, the audience doesn't get the fulfillment of the prophecy, the death of Achilles (by being shot in his heel) For these reasons, I would rank Robert Wise's "Helen of Troy" as number one and "Fury of Achilles" as a very close second. All other versions are not even contenders. Mitchell's portrayal of the conflicted Greek hero is a much more interesting and faceted one than has ever been rendered before...and the doomed Hector as played by Bergerac has a worthy rival indeed. It is to be hoped that this film will be restored to its original glory; the prints available on video and DVD currently are too poor a quality to do it justice.
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Faithful to the Iliad
warrenchang28 June 2007
I remember watching this as a child on TV and so when I finally had the opportunity to watch this recently on DVD, I wondered if it would still impress me and I wasn't disappointed. I've always been obsessed with Homer's Iliad and am still waiting for someone to put a more "definitive" version of this literary classic on screen. This movie is typical of the "sword and sandal" films of the period but better than most. The story pretty much follows the story of the Iliad fairly accurately. The Iliad is the story of Achilles and thats the theme of the movie. It also ends where Homer's Iliad ends with the ransom of Hectors body. The Gods, while not extremely obvious are also part of the story and tangible as in the original Iliad, in contrast to the absence of the Gods in the larger budget versions such as "Helen of Troy" (1956) and "Troy" (2004). I definitely recommend this movie for anyone who enjoys the sword and sandal films of this period. Its not a great movie but I was happy the film was faithful to the original story.
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An off beat telling of the Legend
dbborroughs12 February 2004
Unable to support the war in Troy, the Greeks begin raiding along the coast. While the classic heroes are off raiding the Trojans try a sneak attack against those that remain behind. Just as the battle turns against the Greeks, Achilles arrives to save the day...so goes the first 20 minutes of the film. This is a telling of the end of the Trojan war just prior to the death of Achilles. Its a very strange film in that for a good portion of it you really can't stand the Greeks who are more interested in raping than fighting the war. They are shown to be petty people who are not really heroic and who spend more time fighting over women and gold than matters of state. This is a big movie with a cast of thousands so you really do get armies clashing. Unfortunately the movie is very unfocused and feels stretched by about 20 minutes, which is a shame since its one of the best made films of this genre, but its not the best told. I liked it but I wanted to love it.
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Unpleasant Sword & Sandal
Maciste_Brother9 May 2007
I purchased the WARRIORS 50 DVD pack and watched almost all of the films and I have to say that FURY OF ACHILLES was one of my least favorite out of the whole bunch. There's almost nothing about it that distinguishes it from the average film from the pack. In fact, I can hardly remember anything from it aside from the fact that it's more serious, certainly compared to other Peplums which can only be described as lightweight fun stuff. But FURY OF ACHILLES is too serious for its own good and too convoluted and confusing. Halfway into the film, I forgot what was going on, who was who, etc.

Of all the Sword & Sandal actors, I always found Gordon Mitchell to be the creepiest. Aside from his physique, I don't see any reason why he kept getting work. Casting him as a villain made sense but as a hero? No. His hatchet face was way too distracting. And Mitchell was cast as one of the main characters here. Mitchell does give a performance of sorts, certainly compared to more lightweight S&S but he came across as a repulsively arrogant character. Not a good thing, if you ask me. In fact the whole film has an odd unpleasant & mean spirited tone to it. If you want to see a successful version of Homer's Illiad, check out Robert Wise's HELEN OF TROY.
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Kirpianuscus17 July 2017
for many reasons, Gordon Mitchell was not the most inspired option for the role of Achilles. but this choice becomes a small detail across the film. because , "Fury of Achilles" has a first virtue - it is different by the Italian movies , inspired by the mythology/history of Old Greek / Rome. motifs - Iliad is not a pretext for fight scenes and love stories but source for an adaptation who use accuracy as one of its virtues. the second motif, the acting who could not be reduced at good intentions. and the beautiful cinematography. so, "The Fury of Achilles".
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Surprisingly Interesting, Good
Rainey-Dawn21 January 2017
The 10th year of the Trojan war. Achilles and Agamemnon have tensions building between them. The men divide and take sides, a new battle is at hand. Mighty Jove gives Achilles strength. Pick your side Achilles or Agamemnon? This one kept me interested throughout the film. It's definitely an above average 1960s peplum. The story is deep and surprisingly interesting, it's not just a film that one only watches for the action and cool costumes. It's a darn good story.

If I were going to recommend a 60s peplum I would have to mention this one. It is worthy enough for a good, clean copy for distribution. My copy is pretty good already. I found it in the Mill Creek Warriors 50-pack.

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The Invincible Achilles On A Mission
bkoganbing10 December 2010
Fury Of Achilles takes the story of Achilles and highlights it from Homer's Iliad as opposed to telling the whole story of the Trojan War. It's a cut above the usual peplum pictures mainly because of the source.

Gordon Mitchell who unlike Brad Pitt did not have to bulk up to play Achilles he was pretty buff stuff already as that was his trade. Playing Hector is another expatriate actor Jacques Bergerac who was fresh from his divorce from Dorothy Malone and no doubt needed the money for alimony and child support.

Fury Of Achilles is hardly in the class of the recent Troy or the Fifties film Helen Of Troy. It was made with a fraction of the budget of either. Yet it told the story in a simple and straightforward manner and Mitchell was actually a creditable Achilles.

The Iliad and its characters are almost as well known as the Bible so the movie-going public knows what it expects from players who portray these characters. Achilles and Hector are larger than life and Mitchell and Bergerac show them as such.

Lovers of the classics might nitpick, but the public shouldn't complain.
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