The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

THE word epic is so overused in the movie busi­ness that it’s a re­lief to find a film for which the term is not only fit­ting but oblig­a­tory. Troy was where the epic be­gan, and Homer, who more or less in­vented the genre, has had scant at­ten­tion from Hol­ly­wood. Wolf­gang Petersen’s Troy (Satur­day, 10.35pm, M Ac­tion/Ad­ven­ture) looks like a gal­lant at­tempt to make up for lost ground. This will be the great­est war the world has ever seen,’’ some­one muses early on; and if we are in the mood for vast bat­tle scenes, huge ar­madas, clash­ing hordes of war­riors and swords­men, this is the film to see. In an epic with­out ob­vi­ous good­ies or bad­dies, ten­sion is hard to sus­tain. It may de­pend on whether we pre­fer Brad Pitt’s glis­ten­ing bulked-up torso as Achilles or Eric Bana’s greater vigour and darker charms as Hec­tor. Given the em­pha­sis on male physique, Troy may be more ho­mo­erotic than Homeric.

There’s no doubt whose side we are on in Henry V (Satur­day, 4.15pm, TCM). Made at the height of the Ger­man blitz on Lon­don in World War II, this mag­nif­i­cent film of Shake­speare’s clas­sic tale of vic­tory in the face of over­whelm­ing odds was con­ceived as a grand morale-booster for the Brits in 1944.

The pro­ducer was Filippo del Gi­u­dici, an Ital­ian lawyer and fugi­tive from Mus­solini’s fas­cist rule, who orig­i­nally wanted Wil­liam Wyler or Carol Reed to di­rect. When both turned him down, Lau­rence Olivier signed on as di­rec­tor as well as play­ing the ti­tle role. The re­sult was one of the great­est Shake­spearean films, be­gin­ning as a staged pro­duc­tion in El­iz­a­bethan Lon­don’s orig­i­nal Globe Theatre with stylised sets be­fore giv­ing way to real-life ac­tion dur­ing the Bat­tle of Agin­court.

An­other fa­mous King Henry can be seen in A Man for All Sea­sons (Wed­nes­day, 10.05pm, TCM), Fred Zin­ne­mann’s Os­car-win­ning

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