Troy: Fall of a City TV Series Overview


Introduction

Troy: Fall of a City is a British-American miniseries based on the Trojan War and the love affair between Paris and Helen.

The show tells the story of the 10-year siege of Troy, set in the 13th century BC.

It is not an adaption of Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey but rather an original take on the Greek myths, and covers some ground only alluded to in those works.

Outline

The story of the 10-year siege of Troy by the Greeks is told after the young prince of Troy, Paris, has an affair with Helen of Troy, the wife of the Greek king Menelaus.

Cast

  • Louis Hunter as Paris/Alexander.
  • Bella Dayne as Helen of Troy.
  • David Threlfall as Priam.
  • Frances O’Connor as Hecuba.
  • Tom Weston-Jones as Hector.
  • Joseph Mawle as Odysseus.
  • Chloe Pirrie as Andromache.
  • Johnny Harris as Agamemnon.
  • David Gyasi as Achilles.
  • Jonas Armstrong as Menelaus.
  • Alfred Enoch as Aeneas.
  • Aimee-Ffion Edwards as Cassandra.
  • Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Zeus.
  • Chris Fisher as Deiphobus.
  • Christiaan Schoombie as Troilus.
  • Alex Lanipekun as Pandarus.
  • Jonathan Pienaar as Litos.
  • David Avery as Xanthias.
  • Lex King as Aphrodite.
  • Amy Louise Wilson as Briseis.
  • Inge Beckmann as Hera.
  • Shamilla Miller as Athena.
  • Diarmaid Murtagh as Hermes.
  • Thando Hopa as Artemis.
  • Nina Milner as Penthesilea.
  • Grace Hogg-Robinson as Hermione.
  • Jovan Muthray as Kaidas.
  • Lemogang Tsipa as Patroclus.

Production

The series was filmed in Cape Town.

Adaptation

The show makes a number of alterations from the original Greek texts, as well as departures from earlier modern adaptations of the legend. For instance, it vilifies Menelaus, proposes a resolution to Briseis’s captivity, and omits Aeneas’s identity as the son of Aphrodite. The show also omits the final reconciliation between Achilles and Agamemnon from the Iliad, instead replacing this with Agamemnon resorting to “ignoble trickery”. It also reimagines the circumstances of the Trojan Horse stratagem by making it be filled with grain for the starving city, thus making the Trojans more likely to bring it in. More significantly, it also incorporates myths about the lead-up to the war and about the backgrounds of the major characters that are not found in the Iliad and are not normally included in most modern adaptations.

One of the show’s most radical changes from earlier adaptations was its decision to include the Greek gods as human-like characters played by live actors who speak normal dialogue. While the gods are major figures in the original Homeric epics, ever since the mid-twentieth century, adaptations of the Trojan War have nearly always either removed the gods from the story or heavily reduced their role in it. Most twenty-first-century adaptations of the Trojan War, including the film Troy (2004), Alessandro Baricco’s Iliad (2004), Margaret George’s Helen of Troy (2005), and Alice Oswald’s Memorial (2011) omit them entirely. The gods play an active role in the show for the first half of the series, but they recede into the background halfway through after Zeus orders them to stop intervening in the war. Zeus does give this command in the original Iliad, but it is almost immediately violated and eventually repealed entirely.

The most controversial change was the showrunners’ decision to cast David Gyasi, a black actor of Ghanaian descent, as Achilles and Nigerian-born Hakeem Kae-Kazim, another black actor, as Zeus. These decisions resulted in almost immediate backlash as both roles are traditionally portrayed by white actors and historically depicted as white. Several classical scholars defended the production, arguing that historical Greeks were “unlikely to be uniformly pale-skinned”, that “dark-skinned North Africans existed” in ancient Greece, citing Memnon of Ethiopia as an example. Scholars also stated the question of whether ‘black people’ lived in Ancient Greece is itself flawed as the ancient Greeks did not have a concept of “race”. Tim Whitmarsh, a professor of Greek culture at the University of Cambridge, stated, “Our best estimate is that the Greeks would be a spectrum of hair colours and skin types in antiquity. I don’t think there’s any reason to doubt they were Mediterranean in skin type (lighter than some and darker than other Europeans), with a fair amount of inter-mixing.” He also added that there is no single, absolutely definitive version of the Trojan War story: “Homer’s poems are merely one version and the Greeks themselves understood the story could change… There’s never been an authentic retelling of the Iliad and the Odyssey – they’ve always been fluid texts. They’re not designed to be set in stone and it’s not blasphemous to change them.”

Release

The show’s ratings were a disappointment. Despite its Saturday night primetime slot and each episode’s £2 million budget, the first episode aired to an audience of only 3.2 million viewers, while other shows in the same time slot have easily surpassed 5 million. By episode four, the viewership had dropped to only 1.6 million.

Trivia

  • The series was commissioned by BBC One and is a co-production between BBC One and Netflix, with BBC One airing the show on 17 February 2018 in the UK, and Netflix streaming the show internationally outside the UK.

Troy: The Fall of a City Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Owen Harris, John Strickland, and Mark Brozel.
  • Producer(s): Dianne Beatty, Derek Wax, David Farr, Barney Reisz, James C. Williamson, Christopher Aird, Robert How, and Matthew Read.
  • Writer(s): David Farr, Nancy Harris, Mika Watkins, and Joe Barton.
  • Music: Robin Coudert.
  • Cinematography: Gustav Danielsson, Andew McDonnell, and Ruairi O’Brien.
  • Editor(s): Nicolas Chaudeurge, Ian Davies, Andrew McClelland, and Gareth C. Scales.
  • Production: Kudos, Wild Mercury, and Netflix.
  • Distributor(s): Endemol Shine UK.
  • Original Network: BBC One (UK) and Netflix (International).
  • Release Date: 17 February 2018 to 07 April 2018.
  • Running time: 56 minutes (per episode).
  • Rating: TV-MA.
  • Country: UK and US.
  • Language: English.

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