Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I’m not sure the lure of a “director’s cut” is enough to get me to take another look at this stiff. Then again, I was a vocal advocate of the amazing director’s cut of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, so I know sometimes it really can make a difference. I just didn’t care for the theatrical cut of TROY at all. Is there a different experience in store for me if I do try this version? A significant difference? And most importantly... is it better?
Hey Moriarty, When I first saw Troy in the theaters, something felt wrong. It wasn't that I was overall disappointed by the film, it was that I felt I shouldn't have been. I couldn't imagine Wolfgang Petersen treating the characters so cavalierly or making the whole of the battles seem so underwhelming. But after watching how Ridley Scott brought his similarly wronged Kingdom of Heaven to light as good film after all, when the Arclight in Los Angeles advertised a Director's Cut screening of Troy, I felt compelled to give it a chance. As it turns out, I made the right call. Prior to actually watching the film, the audience was treated to a Q&A with Petersen himself. He was charming, self depreciating and very candid about how he felt that the theatrical release was not what it could have been. He laughed about the strenuous process of post production and told some very funny anecdotes about how the studio would pester him with things that needed to go, "Too violent, we can't have so much violence, Wolfgang. But hey, you have final cut. I'm just saying." And how relieved he was when given the opportunity to make the movie he really wanted to. Added is some twenty plus minutes of new material along with a major reworking of what was already there. Sitting in the theater I felt like I was watching an entirely different movie and I am very happy to report: that movie was badass. The first very notable thing in the Director's Cut is how much more character is injected into the film. No longer are Hector and Priam the only people you care for. Real time is given to flesh out Sean Bean's Odysseus, Helen and Paris (Yes, you see Helen naked. Yes, it's good.), Menelaus, Agamemnon, even Ajax gets a lot of love. But most importantly the character who gets real love is Achilles. I remember when saw the Theatrical Release, I was stunned that Pitt had gone through such a dramatic physical transformation for the film only to deliver a performance that seemed positively phoned in. It seemed as though his only reason for doing the film was to do one scene with Peter O'Toole and though a fine scene it was, the rest of it was very unimpressive. This has changed. Recut, everything about Achilles is more interesting, he is the lion he claims to be with a savage nihilism about everything except his own legacy. As he undergoes his change in the film, it is genuinely compelling. Next on the list is violence. In the Q&A, Petersen stated that a lot of violence had been cut from the theatrical release. It is back in. If you were like me and thought the taking of the Trojan beach was a bit ho-hum, you will be stunned to see the savage fucking carnage that is the new version. As Petersen said, "War is horrible. This is what it is." And you are given a feeling that matches. Ajax is a monster, storming through Greek troops and shattering them with his hammer. Achilles is a pure machine of death, dispatching man after man in a savage display as the blood and viscera goes everywhere. I felt very much the same as I did when I first saw Braveheart. Remember how the battles were so brutal? All of a sudden we were watching limbs getting lopped off and it looked real. That same sense of horrific awe is brought back by the director's cut of Troy when a javelin pierces a man's skull, sending blood and brain everywhere as you realize that it's just getting underway. They take it to the next level in this. 300 ain't got shit on Troy. Another thing worth mentioning is the score. Many were dissatisfied with the scoring on the theatrical release. To hear Petersen describe it, it's no shock. James Horner was brought in last minute to completely re-score the movie when the studio rejected the original composer's work. What Horner did was cut in last minute and with little finesse. That's been redone to great effect and I will quote Petersen again when he said, "the score has integrity". It doesn't feel cheesy or overwhelming anymore, it's just right. The classical studies majors out there will still be bitter about how the story was changed, though I can say the new version gives much more respect to the Gods as forces in the film. Zeus still doesn't come walking down from on high with lightening but they aren't used as dialogue markers for human folly anymore either. In whole, the entire film has been treated with more respect, more care and more artistic vision than what we saw the first time around. Overall, I was very impressed by what was achieved in the Director's Cut and heartily recommend anyone to go pick it up. Petersen and his team did a great job; I don't think you'll be disappointed. -Benjamin Elial