The Trojan Women (1971)
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Audience Reviews for The Trojan Women
The Trojan Women earns a sympathetic but low 3 star rating from me. This is the type of film I want to come off. This is the same director that did Iphigenia and Antigone and both came off very well as tragedies. Unfortunately, with Trojan Women the acting is very mixed. At times it is very good, but it is also often overwrought. I have to put this down to the directing and I suspect there may have been communication issues since Irene Papas comes off solid as Helen. Also, the sound is often very poor with the windy, open outdoor location and that may have caused the actresses to frequently shout their lines. Still, as a lover of Greek myth and drama, I find Trojan Women passable and admire the efforts made.
The film is unsuccesful in many ways and is flawed; it is mostly the rythm that suffers as the tragic mode/style of talking doesn't match the 'naturalistic' cinematic art. Cacoyannis tries to bring some cinematic effects as equivalents to the play's stylized structure (such as the choral section with the montage of the faces of Trojan women as a way to evoke ritualistic effects) but not all of them succeed. I would say that it fails because of that: looking for equivalents in film language for another language (that of ancient Greek theatre) is the problem, instead of trying to reimagine from scratch the play in cinematic terms as Pasolini did for his own adaptations of tragedies. Yet, despite its flaws, the film manages to be really powerful at times. This is thanks to the text itself as well as the masterful performances, especially by Katharine Hepburn as Hecuba and Vanessa Redgrave as Andromache. It definitely deserves to be seen as it can be rewarding for those who have some patience to spare.
Playwright Euripides' barrier-crossing sympathy for women on the losing side of the mythic Trojan war could have been written over two millennia later as a sword-and-sandal allegory of some contemporary conflict. The obvious relevance was not lost on adapter/producer/director/editor Michael Cacoyannis, who includes a dedication to those who would resist oppression. Yet Euripides' play begins after resistance has come and gone and all is truly lost. All that is left is to discover how insidious and inescapable total defeat is. Try as they might to deny the end of their culture, to comfort themselves through religion, to remember that they were once great, to find some small triumph in the ability to stand upright, the Trojan women may not retain even a shred of their past dignity. It is not that the Greeks gloat: the Greek soldier who speaks the most is apologetic and respectful in response to powerful speeches delivered by women of such presence as Katharine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, and Irene Papas, but in the end he is the victor and with that comes the obligation, distasteful though he may find it, to play the part.
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