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Helen of Troy (TV miniseries): Wikis

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Helen of Troy
Approx. run time 177 minutes
Genre Miniseries
Distributed by Universal Home Entertainment
Written by Ronni Kern
Directed by John Kent Harrison
Produced by Ted Kurdyla
Starring Sienna Guillory
Matthew Marsden
John Rhys-Davies
Emilia Fox
With Rufus Sewell
And Stellan Skarsgård
Editing by Michael D. Ornstein
Music by Joel Goldsmith
Cinematography Edward J. Pai
Country United States United States
Language English
Original channel USA Network
Release date United States April 20, 2003

Helen of Troy is a television miniseries based upon Homer's story of the Trojan War, as recounted in the epic poem, Iliad. This TV miniseries also shares the name with a 1956 movie starring Stanley Baker. It stars Sienna Guillory as Helen, Matthew Marsden as Paris, Rufus Sewell as Agamemnon, James Callis as Menelaus, John Rhys-Davies as Priam, former Bond girl Maryam d'Abo as Hecuba, and Stellan Skarsgård as Theseus. The series was entirely shot on location in the islands of Malta.

The film is placed in the early classical period rather than the correct early Iron Age; the Greeks are shown with post-Bronze Age classical hoplite dress and arms. Made on a relatively low budget, Helen of Troy was released at a time when interest in the subject was high due to the soon-to-be-released Troy.

The film also focuses more on the life of Helen herself rather than simply the Trojan War. The entire first half deals with Helen's life before Troy, and includes a number of mythological facts that other versions either gloss over or omit, such as Helen's abduction by Theseus and the actual agreement of the Greek kings to use her marriage as their peace agreement.

In contrast to Troy (which was roughly based on the Iliad which itself only depicts some of the events of the final year of the war), the film tells much of the story of the War. Most notably, Helen of Troy features and discusses the intervention of the gods (the film's opening scene shows Hera, Athena and Aphrodite at the Judgment of Paris) as written by Homer. This does not mean, however, that it is more accurate, as a number of the characters (namely Paris, as stated above), do not resemble their Homeric counterparts. Both films feature the interpretation of Agamemnon as a power-hungry tyrant, although this Helen of Troy adds a new dimension by addressing Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter Iphigeneia to the gods.

Plot summary

The film begins with the birth of Paris, and Cassandra's prophecy that he would be the cause of Troy's destruction. Worried, his father King Priam leaves him on Mount Ida, where he is found and raised by the shepherd Agelaus. When he is an adult, he judges Aphrodite as the fairest of the three goddesses, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. After awarding her the golden apple she promises him the love of Helen of Sparta, the most beautiful woman in the world.

Meanwhile in Sparta, Helen's sister Clytemnestra is married to a Mycenaean prince, Agamemnon, who is immediately taken by Helen's attractiveness. During the wedding Helen is kidnapped by two Athenians, Theseus and his friend Pirithous. They take her to Athens, where Helen falls for Theseus, before her brother Pollux raids Athens and kills him. As he is dying, Theseus stabs Pollux. In Sparta, Helen's father Tyndareus rages at his daughter, blaming her for losing his heir. He presents her to the suitors who seek her hand, bidding them to do as they wish.

The suitors draw lots after swearing an oath suggested by clever Odysseus that if anyone disrespect her husband's claims to her, they should unite and wage war against him. They agree to the oath and Agamemnon's brother Menelaus wins. Agamemnon is visibly jealous.

Shortly after Paris' favorite bull is taken for the Trojan tribute games. Paris insists on competing, despite his father's protests. After winning in every competition and being recognized by his sister Cassandra, Paris is welcomed by an overjoyed Priam to Troy. Cassandra and his elder brother Hector are upset at their father's decision.

Paris is sent to Sparta few days later to draw out a peace treaty with the Atreids, Agamemnon and Menelaus. His treaty is refused and Agamemnon plots to have him murdered. While there however, he gains the love of Helen and she helps him flee. Together they sail to Troy.

When Menelaus finds this out he demands that his brother launch war on Troy, and the former suitors are gathered to fulfill their oath.

Helen and Paris arrive at Troy with the Greek army at their heels. Priam is at first reluctant to allow Helen to remain at Troy, until he sees her. When the Greeks send an embassy of Menelaus and Odysseus to demand Helen's return, Priam refuses, and the Greeks plan an attack.

In the morning the battle is joined on the beach of Troy, with Hector nearly killed by Agamemnon. The battle ends with the Trojan army's crushing defeat and the Greeks camping on the beach.

Ten years pass. Agamemnon agrees to end the war with a single combat, between Menelaus and Paris. If Menelaus wins, Helen will be returned. If Menelaus loses, the Trojans may keep her. Whatever the outcome, the Greeks have to leave Troy.

Agamemnon cheats, poisoning Menelaus' javelin without telling him. During the duel Paris is cut and the poison disorientates him. Menelaus does not take advantage of him; instead, they stop fighting and converse about Helen as a fog hides them from view.

As the fog lifts, Agamemnon's cheating is exposed. Hector challenges Agamemnon to a duel that will end the war - this time, to the death. Achilles takes up the challenge, but agrees to fight not for Helen bit for his own honor. Achilles succeeds in killing Hector, and defiles his body by dragging it on his chariot wheels.

That night Helen, fearing for Paris' safety, goes to the seer Cassandra and asks to know what she can do to protect Paris. Cassandra replies that her only choice is to give herself to the Greeks. Helen agrees, presenting herself in Agamemnon's tent and offering a trade - her for Troy. Agamemnon refuses and chases her around the camp, but Paris arrives in time to save her, challenging Agamemnon for the safety of Troy. Achilles charges at him, but Paris seizes a bow and shoots Achilles in the heel, killing him. Afterwards the Greeks attack him, but he hides and is reunited with Helen. Shortly thereafter, Agamemnon finds him and stabs the unarmed Paris in the chest. He dies in Helen's arms, whispering the name of Aphrodite.

During Paris' funeral, the Greeks are reported to have sailed away - leaving a massive wooden horse on the shore. It is taken into the city and Troy celebrates late into the night. When they are all asleep the Greeks come out and sack the city, slaying Priam and Hecuba. Agamemnon seats himself proudly on Troy's throne as the new king of the Aegean. Meanwhile the gods fight over whether or not to save Troy, and a conflict erupts that destroys them all. All their powers are transferred to the most powerful human, Agamemnon. He orders his men to bring Helen to him. She is brought before him and kneels at his feet. Agamemnon tells her she belongs to him now. She lowers her head in obedience, and he gently strokes her hair. Suddenly, he pulls her up and throws her towards a bed. She does not resist, and he pins her arms and spreads her legs. He forcibly rips open her pants and begins to rape her. Menelaus tries to stop him, but is restrained by soldiers. Agamemnon turns toward him with a cocky look, then quickly returns his focus to rape Helen.

The next morning, Clytemnestra visits the royal pool. She sees a naked Agamemnon in the pool. Helen is present, but Clytemnestra orders her out. Agamemnon repeats his objection that Clytemnestra should not meddle in his affairs. Clytemnestra, still crushed by the sacrifice of her daughter and knowing that her husband is culpable for her death, responds that she has come to look for Iphigeneia. Agamemnon retorts that she is not there, Clytemnestra, half mad, throws a net on her husband and stabs him dead in the water.

In the final scene, Helen experiences a vision of Paris waiting for her on the other side but not able to take her with him for the time being. The vision disappears and Menelaus arrives. Helen bows her head before her husband and removes her hair from her neck so that he may cut her head off with ease. Menelaus raises the blade but lowers it immediately, apparently not willing to punish her wife whom he loves despite of her love for Paris. Helen then joins her husband and the couple leave to resume their quiet co-habitation, much to the original concept of Homer.

Cast

External links

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