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Helen of Troy

4.1 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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(Apr 27, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Homer's Illiad surges to the screen in Helen Of Troy, from the '50s heyday of big-screen spectaculars. Robert Wise (Westside Story, The Sound Of Music) directs this lavish epic capturing some 30,000 people on screen at a then huge cost of $6 million.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Stanley Baker, Rossana Podestà, Brigitte Bardot, Jacques Sernas, Cedric Hardwicke
  • Directors: Robert Wise
  • Writers: Homer, Hugh Gray, John Twist, N. Richard Nash
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001AVZNA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,496 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Helen of Troy" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This is my favorite movie version of the story of Helen of Troy. It's more melodramatic and theatrical than the recent cable TV miniseries, but it is faster paced and has a grandeur and fascination with Greek mythology lacking in that version. At least Cassandra is Kassandra in this film - she's endowed with the gift of prophecy, yet no one believes her until it's too late. Then again, many other mythological details are sacrificed for simplicity's sake.
In the role of Helen, Rossana Podesta is radiantly beautiful. She indeed has the face that could launch a thousand ships. And the Paris of Jacques Sernas is nearly as beautiful as his beloved. Their passion is believable, if a tad overblown. The rest of cast is good too, especially the Priam of Sir Cedric Hardwick, Achilles of Stanley Baker and Odysseus of Torin Thatcher. Although the Trojan War occured during Mycenaean times, most of the set designs and costumes appear to use Classical Greece as the model, and to very good effect, for it gives the movie a nobility lacking in the more recent version. It's all pure Hollywood and many liberties have been taken. The spectacular scenery, great matte work and action sequences nevertheless make for a very entertaining movie. So where's the DVD?
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Format: VHS Tape
The Robert Wise 1956 production of "Helen of Troy", despite its many great qualities in regard to production and historical recreation could never be accused of following religiously its main literary source in Homer's Iliad. That said, by no means could it be said to detract from it still being a top flight entry in the 1950's cycle of big screen epics based around historical events. Being a passionate reader of all things to do with ancient Troy I still find this film, despite its many critics, to be first class entertainment and a wonderful introduction to both the period of the Trojan wars and especially to the great historical romance between Paris, Prince of Troy and Queen Helen of Sparta, the face that launched a thousand ships. "Helen of Troy", is a epic movie lovers delight and combines all the right elements in breathtaking on location photography, vivid colour, great set pieces and with enough battles, romance and intrigue to hold the interest. Warner Bros Studios planned "Helen of Troy", as one of their biggest releases for 1956 and continuing their battle against the encroaching power of television spent a staggering 6 million dollars on the film which shows in every frame of this truly epic production. Highly romanticised it may be in parts but it still does make a serious attempt to show both sides in the famous Trojan war and what really motivated some of the involved parties to go to war.

With such a gigantic tale as the fall of the legendary city of Troy to relate the film makers essentially had to simplify the story but the overall facts as most people know them are kept largely intact.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I see that this 50s spectacle, "Helen of Troy", has attracted a number of favourable reviews--although a couple of these reviews seem to be as "epic' as the story in the film ! Very loosely based on Homer's "Iliad", and released on DVD no doubt to coincide with the new version of this tale in theatres,
"Troy", "Helen of Troy" remains an enjoyable experience. It has fine production values--sets, costumes, cinematography--and an experienced director in Robert Wise.

The plot is not too complicated, at least in this "Coles Notes" adaption of Homer's work. The Trojan prince, Paris, visits Greece on a peace mission and meets Helen, the wife of the Greek king, Menelaus. Paris and Helen fall for each other, and run off back to Troy. Of course, " this means war "--besides, the Greeks wanted war anyway ! The second half of the film is taken up with the siege of Troy, and there are some spectacular battle scenes here, with real people ! No digital effects in those days ! There is also a large, wooden horse--but you knew that, didn't you ?

The supporting cast is mostly British--Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Harry Andrews, Janette Scott, Niall McGuinness, Torin Thatcher, Ronald Lewis and, as a perpetually-glowering Achilles, Stanley Baker, are all solid and professional. The two leads, however, went to unknown non-Brits, and perhaps this is what interests me the most about "Helen of Troy". This must have been an expensive production--why did the lead roles not be given to big names ? The beautiful, curvaceous Italian actress, Rossana Podesta, is Helen--while not a great actress, it is not difficult to imagine grown men fighting over her !
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Format: DVD
First of all, anyone who depends upon films to understand history (especially ancient history) is on a fool's errand. Moreover, both of Homer's epic poems possess a scope and depth which simply cannot be accommodated within a film with a running time of less than 15-20 hours. That said, this is a generally entertaining presentation of the basic plot: Prince Paris of Troy (Jacques Sernas) visits Sparta, falls in love with Queen Helen (Rosanna Podesta) and she with him, they return together to Troy, her outraged husband Menelaus (Nial MacGinnis) organizes an army and follows them, lays siege to the city, and eventually Troy is occupied and then obliterated.
Most of the film's tension (such as it is) involves Achilles (Stanley Baker) and his adversarial relationships with Menelaus and Agamemnon (Robert Douglas) and then with Prince Hector (Harry Andrews) whom he slays in hand-to-hand combat. This is an above average spectacle, comparable with predecessors Samson and Delilah (1949) and Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954). By no means a great film, nonetheless Helen of Troy (as directed by Robert Wise) offers generally solid acting throughout its cast and several memorable battle scenes without benefit of digital technologies when filmed in 1955. Yes, that's Brigitte Bardot as Andraste and Eduardo Ciannelli as Andros. And yes, I enjoyed seeing this film again, motivated to do so after seeing Wolfgang Petersen's Troy. The inclusion of various gods and goddesses in the earlier film now seems silly but the absence of a "superstar" such as Brad Pitt in one of its lead roles is (at least for me) refreshing.
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