Movie Reviews

Homer Or Hollywood: 5 Inaccuracies In Brad Pitts Troy (& 5 Times They Got It Right)


  • Odysseus’ cunning is depicted well in “Troy,” despite not being the main focus – showcases his intelligence.
  • Troy’s brutal scene of Achilles fighting Hector received praise – accurately portrays Achilles’ wrath.
  • Paris’ fate in “Troy” differs from the original text – portrays him as more heroic in the film than in Homer’s poem.

Bringing the ancient work of Homer to the big screen, there is a question of how accurate Troy is as a movie. Based on Homer’s writing about the Trojan War in The Iliad and the Odyssey, Troy was a 2004 Hollywood blockbuster starring Brad Pitt as Achilles, the world’s greatest warrior who becomes embroiled in the war for the city of Troy. Directed by Wolfgang Peterson, the movie was a box office hit with a mixed response from critics. 20 years after its release, there is still fascination over the accuracy of Troy.

Troy is one of the few movies based on Greek mythology to come out in the 21st century but many people took issue with how closely the movie follows the source material. There was the controversial decision not to include any presence of gods which is a big part of Homer’s writing while there are also several differences in historical facts and character’s fates. At the same time, Troy does manage to do justice to a number of aspects of the story that it deserves credit for.


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Things In Troy That Were Accurate

The Cunning Of Odysseus

Those familiar with Homer’s work may be surprised to find that Odysseus is not the main character at the center of Troy. Instead, he plays a supporting role to Achilles with Sean Bean stepping into the role. However, while his role in the overall story might not be as significant as viewers might expect, the movie does the character justice by showing him to be the most intelligent strategist in the war.

It says a lot that Odysseus is the only high-ranking member of the war council whom Achilles respects with the warrior actually being the one who successfully convinces Achilles to come and fight for Agamemnon at Troy. The one trait that Homer made very clear about Achilles, both in The Iliad and The Odyssey, was that this character was bright, resourceful, and full of intelligence. This is clearly shown in the movie as Odysseus gives the iconic moment of devising the plan to use a Trojan horse to infiltrate Troy and win the war.

Achilles’ Treatment Of Hector’s Body

While Troy has plenty of critics who call out its storytelling as well as its accuracy, many of them agree that if there is one incredible scene that elevates the movie, it is the fight between Achilles and Hector. The confrontation comes after Hector kills Achilles’ cousin Patroclus in battle thinking that he was Achilles. This leads to Achilles seeking revenge and exacting it in a brutal way.

Achilles’ disrespect of Hector’s body

Hector puts up a valiant fight against Achilles, but in the end, he is no match for him and is killed in front of his family. Still overcome with his desire for vengeance, Achilles then ties his corpse to his chariot, dragging him back to the Greek camp. The film rightly captures Achilles’ disrespect of Hector’s body, which was a grave trespass in the days of Homer, even though the desecration is worse in the original text.

Helen And Paris Starting The War

Helen’s role in the story of the Trojan War is pivotal and has become an iconic ode to her as one of the greatest beauties in history. While both the source material and the movie go into more depth than that, they both stick to the idea that it was the forbidden romance between Helen and Paris that ignited this war.

The film might not get every detail about Helen and Paris’s relationship right, but it does accurately show the way the couple’s decisions led to the Greeks setting sail for Troy. The film shows Helen falling in love with Paris and going back to Troy with him willingly. While some accounts portray the events this way, others show Paris abducting Helen against her will. However, Troy’s version is also interesting for examining how the act is seen as selfish and reckless by others, especially Paris’ brother Hector.

Achilles’ Withdrawal From Fighting Over Briseis

The relationship between Achilles and Agamemnon is consistently rocky throughout the film. Tensions really boil over when Agamemnon steals Briseis, the captured priestess, from Achilles. Rose Byrne secured one of her first big Hollywood roles by playing Briseis. Though she hates Achilles in the beginning, the two gradually form a bond with Achilles feeling protective over her.

Given that Agamemmon cannot control Achilles as the warrior doesn’t respect him, he decides to use Briseis as a pawn. This causes the war hero to withdraw from fighting. The source material also shows Achilles withdrawing from fighting on account of Briseis. However, the film leaves out that Agamemnon only took Briseis from Achilles because he was ordered by the god Apollo to give up his own concubine, Chryseis. Apart from Troy removing the gods from the story, his capture of Briseis simply solidifies him as a true villain.

Hector’s Funeral

Brad Pitt’s role as Achilles is certainly seen as the hero of the story, but he is a flawed hero to be sure. His killing of Hector is a moment in which it is hard to cheer for him as Hector was perhaps the most likable character in the entire story and Achilles’ disrespectful treatment of his body is not what the brave warrior deserved. Luckily, Achilles eventually seems to understand the error of his ways.

The film is faithful to the events that come just after, also regarding Hector’s body. King Priam of Troy sneaks into the Greek camp (although in the epic poem, he is escorted by the god Hermes). There, he begs Achilles to let him take Hector’s body and bury it. In both versions of events, Achilles is touched by Priam’s plea and allows him to take Hector’s body and hold a proper funeral. The fighting is put on hold to allow the funeral to take place.

Things In Troy That Were Inaccurate

The Relationship Between Achilles And Patroclus

The place where Troy strays the furthest from The Iliad is the relationship between Brad Pitt’s Achilles and Patroclus. In the film, the two are portrayed as cousins, with Achilles being a mentor to his younger relative. Other ancient works (excluding The Iliad) portray the two characters as lovers, while Homer doesn’t explicitly state that they are or aren’t lovers. However, there’s no mention of them being related in the source material.

When looking at how their relationship plays out, including their chemistry and passion as they practice fighting, and Achilles’ raging fury when he learns that Hector killed Patroclus, it makes more sense that they are lovers than cousins. Unfortunately, even in a movie as recent as 2004, it would be rare to see a gay relationship depicted in a Hollywood blockbuster even if it is accurate to the original story.

The Time Span

Brad Pitt has starred in many war movies, but Troy is based on a particularly long conflict which fans might not realize based on the film. The Trojan War is said to have lasted 10 years. The Greeks tried relentlessly for a decade to breach the formidable walls of Troy to no avail, forcing them to finally look for another way of getting into the city.

While the film doesn’t have a clear timeline, it certainly doesn’t seem like it takes 10 years from the moment the Greeks land on the beach to the moment the Trojans cart the horse into their city. Some might argue that years pass in the movie without the audience being explicitly told about it, but the film doesn’t effectively show the passage of time. Of course, this is an understandable change for the movie to make as the war might seem less impressive being dragged out for a decade.

The Death Of Agamemnon

Brian Cox gives one of the best performances in the movie as Agamemnon, who serves as the central villain in the story. While other versions of the story have not made him quite so dastardly, the movie is elevated by having such a vile character for the audience to hate as well as Cox’s scenery-chewing performance. Given his unlikable nature, it makes sense that the scriptwriters decided to give the audience a little satisfaction by having him killed at the end.

However, in the original tale, Agamemnon is indeed one of the characters who survives the Trojan War. He doesn’t get a happy ending in any version of events, but the ancient works saw him lasting longer than he does in the film. The story of Agamemnon’s life post-Troy is chronicled in a selection of Greek plays. He is eventually murdered by his wife and her lover, leading his son to seek revenge.

The Fate Of Paris

Coming off the success of Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean, Orlando Bloom stepped into the role of Paris which was not as heroic as those others. In fact, Bloom recently spoke about Troy and his dislike of the role of Paris as he was made to be a cowardly character when facing off with Menelaus. While the character is given a more redemptive ending where he gets to show off some of his heroism, it isn’t an accurate ending for the character.

While it accurately shows Paris in love with Helen, Troy strays from the original when comes to him surviving the ordeal. In the film, Paris kills Achilles and then escapes Troy with his cousin Briseis. In Homer’s poem, Paris dies during the war after he is struck by the poisoned arrow of Philoctetes.

Helen’s Memory Of Her Life Events

The film portrays Paris and Helen as being in love, with their travel to Troy being a rescue mission rather than an abduction. At one point in the film, Helen even explains that Sparta was never her home. She says that her parents sent her there at the age of 16 to marry Menelaus. Although only a minor detail, this is inconsistent with the original version of events. Helen’s parents were the King and Queen of Sparta. She was already Helen of Sparta before she married Menelaus.

The notion of running away with Paris doesn’t feel as selfish anymore

Despite Helen being such an important figure in the story of the Trojan War, the movie doesn’t seem to know what to do with the character once the war begins. Moments like this help to flesh out her character and strengthen this take on her romance with Paris. With the idea that she was a child taken from her home, the notion of running away with Paris doesn’t feel as selfish anymore.

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