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Eagle Eye Media presents
Troy: Myth or Reality? (2004)

"Archaeologist have established that a city, probably Troy, stood in roughly the same place and time as that identified in the Homeric legend. But that is where the historical trail ends."
- narrator (uncredited)

Review By: Nate Meyers   
Published: June 01, 2004

Stars: Donald Easton, Tony Spawforth, Ken Wardle, Peter Clayton, Malcolm Todd, Niall McKeon, Brian Blessed
Director: Uncredited

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (images of nude paintings and non-graphic battle re-enactments)
Run Time: 00h:49m:24s
Release Date: May 25, 2004
UPC: 801213502998
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Quick question: If you are making a documentary and cannot reach any conclusions, would you bother to produce a DVD of your work? Hopefully the answer would be "no." Somebody should have told the makers of Troy: Myth or Reality? to find another topic. They have set out with the goal of explaining what really happened in Ancient Greece during the period described in Homer's immortal poem, The Iliad. Unfortunately, the information provided by scholars is not enough to sustain the documentary's running of time of 50 minutes.

Troy: Myth or Reality? plays like most of the videos students sleep through in their high school history class. It's dull, has British historians as interviewees, cheesy battle re-enactments, and a rather dull, repetitive score. The whole thing is exposition with no pay-off, and it isn't even that thorough in its information. For example, Helen of Sparta, the woman for whom the Trojan War was supposedly fought, is barely mentioned. There is no mentioning of the fact that she, according to Greek legend, was the illegitimate child of Zeus and a mortal woman. Now this could be forgiven if the makers had decided to focus exclusively on the historical facts and speculations while sidestepping the Greek gods, but a vast majority of the material relates to the mythology surrounding Troy. We get a long-winded description of Achilles' famous bath in the River Styx and shallow accounts of the Greek gods meddling in the war. At no time is it apparent why this information is being provided to the viewer, and it never serves the purpose of figuring out what exactly happened at the famed city of Troy.

There are interviews with historians to be sure, and we even get some dramatic readings of Homer and Shakespeare by British classical actor Brian Blessed (that's right, the Brian Blessed). But the information provided by the historians is not especially worthwhile, since all it does is repeat information that most people will already no. The Homeric legends are largely dismissed, especially relating to the famous nine-year siege on the sands of Troy. But no new information is presented to explain what actually happened. All we get is that none of the famous characters (Achilles, Hector, Helen, Paris, Agamemnon) associated with the story have historical standing and most of the events, including the giant wooden horse, have little basis in fact. One of the historians, Donald Easton, indicates in his interview that he disagrees with common opinion about the horse being fictitious, but the topic of this controversy is dropped as soon as it is introduced.

Watching Troy: Myth or Reality? you'll see that no director is credited with its making. It's easy to understand why, since this credit could only damage the director's future. The computer animation simulating the Greek invasion of Troy is laughably bad and the battle re-enactments are cheesy. Even worse are the visuals representing Paris, prince of Troy, and Helen's love affair. Vaseline is placed on the camera lens, creating an annoyingly blurry image. And adding insult to injury is the musical score, which contains, to my memory, only one theme that is repeated constantly over the 50-minute running time.

That's the real problem—it isn't something anybody will remember after watching it. Mostly this is because there is no new information presented, and what is discussed is shown in a boring, standard fashion that is indistinguishable from other documentaries. The only thing the makers can claim to have accomplished with this project is to have put to rest the Homeric legend so that audiences will better appreciate history. But, as the old saying goes, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 is presented here in a nonanamorphic transfer. The footage was shot on video, which is evident in this transfer. The harshness and shallowness of the format are not hidden, making for a very plain and uninteresting viewing experience. A lot of grain is evident, especially on shots of Greek statues and of classical paintings. The interviews are professionally shot and come across quite nicely, with no mosquito noise or defects. There is not a great deal of color in the image, so the over-all picture is quite bland and joyless. Considering the source material, there isn't much that could be done to liven up the image, but it's still a disappointment.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The sound is mixed in Dolby stereo 2.0. The narration and interviews are easily understood and come across in a consistent, clean manner from the center speak. The score protrudes from the left and right main speakers as well as the surrounds, and even though it is a pain to listen too, the mix incorporates it at a proper sound level. Battle scene re-enactments use the front sound stage to good effect, but there's nothing robust in the presentation. Bass comes through very subtly, but is rarely used due to the nature of the material. This is a nice job for a poor documentary.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, German, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. The Heroes-Who's Who, brief descriptions of the legends surrounding Achilles, Hector, and Odysseus.
  2. The Olympians-Who's Who, a listing of each Greek god with a quick, generic outline of each God's myth.
  3. Test Your Knowledge, a quiz about the documentary's material.
  4. Insert, with a printing of the documentary's opening narration.
Extras Review: The fact that there are any extras on this DVD is surprising, but the lack of quality in the extras is not. An insert containing the opening narration and chapter list is provided, but there is no mentioning of the production or anything of interest. On the disc itself, there are three special features. As a guide to the major characters in the legend of Troy, The Heroes-Who's Who gives limited and flavorless descriptions on Achilles, Hector, and Odysseus. The Olympians-Who's Who does the same thing for all of the Greek gods, again raising the question, why is this here? Isn't the point of this DVD to bring an historical understanding to the story of Troy? Finally, viewers are treated to a 10-question quiz that will Test Your Knowledge. All of these features are presented in a pleasant looking font, but the score's tedious theme is also present.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Troy: Myth or Reality? is something that a teacher might consider buying for use in a class, but for the sake of the students in that class, don't buy this DVD. The visuals and music are very bland and will inspire tired eyes. None of the interviewees is animate and no new information is revealed in this documentary. The information that is discussed is rather dull, just like the special features and the documentary's presentation. Use your money to buy a copy of The Iliad.


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