Reading Film (Fall 2011)

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Tom Schalk’s Investigative Proposal (3rd Revision)

October 24th, 2011 by Tom Schalk · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Mankind has maintained a sense of wonder since its inception. When answers were needed for questions such as the origin of our kind, they usually were assumed to be the responsibility of greater beings of power beyond mortals. It’s still a debatable subject today, but there was a time in Greece when people believed that a God existed for each and every element of the Earth and all beyond it. A Greek tale couldn’t be without the presence of figures such as Zeus, god of the sky and justice. However, as many wonders of humanity were answered with the existence of gods, many have sought for answers more complicated than those of religion or mythology. The Trojan War, as described in Homer’s story of The Iliad, prominently featured the Greek gods and goddesses. Alas, our sense of knowledge has exceeded the need for superficial beings being the answers to historical mysteries. The film, “Troy” (2004) follows the same story, but does not have any Greek gods present in the film. How have audiences, particularly those of film adaptations of Greek mythology, responded to changes in the storytelling within films as seen in 2004’s “Troy,” which follows a very historical approach to the infamous Trojan War as opposed to the original fantasy-based narrative presented in Homer’s epic poem of The Iliad?

Go back a few thousand years. Tell anyone about the concepts of human evolution, the Big Bang, and other scientific explanations to life. Assuming you aren’t executed for degrading the efforts of said person’s religion, you may just learn that these people find reasons beyond the concept of Gods are foolish and confusing. Naturally, we have grown more keen to expanding our knowledge, becoming more liberal to ideas such as the lack of involvement of God’s in events such as the Trojan War. Among us are audiences of films who are curious as to how such an event like the Trojan War occurred from a historically accurate perspective.

It would be best approached from the perspective of a theologists interested in the portrayal of Greek Mythology in film. He would understand that society over the course of generations have become more secular than in the past. Looking back at America in the 1960’s, people were greatly influenced by their faith, and found it common to rely on God for answers. There was an understanding for why the Greeks believed in Gods, despite seeming very different from our system of beliefs. Yet in recent times, people have become more separated from faith, and this can be reflected upon by how people allow for a change in a story like that of the Trojan War. What would it be like without the influence of Gods? Better yet, were Gods involved at all?

In order to analyze the question, I will be using The Iliad to reference to the original narrative of the Trojan War. I will then use the 2004 film “Troy” to compare each of the narratives of the story told. Since the audience will be a primary focus, it is important to research chances within the American masses on aspects of faith in the individuals social life. Changes within society, especially their faith, may be reflected within entertainment media such as the field of cinema, as seen in “Troy.” Comparisons should be made between the modern public opinion of religion and the recorded opinions by those within the Ancient Greek era concerning their faith in the Greek mythology.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    To simplify:
    “How have audiences of film adaptations of Greek myths about the Trojan War responded to storytelling changes where fantasy-based narratives are replaced by a historical approach?” That takes out “Troy” and “Iliad” which you may want to squeeze back in, but it also makes the “fantasy-based narratives” vs. “historical approach” approach distinction clearer. It also made me want to ask about “The Trojan War”–it seems like your topic is not only “film adaptations of Greek myths,” but “”film adaptations of Greek myths about foreign wars.” Maybe considering the martial aspect of your topic might help answer the question of why you would present a war story in different ways. Perhaps that is something you introduce earlier in paragraph one–I think you could trim some of the stuff in the first few sentences. Could you just start with a real direct statement about one of your keyterms, rather than tell us about the dawn of mankind?

    I think you might also reconsider your motive paragraph now. Basically, I see the motive as just being intellectual curiosity. But what else can this topic tell us? What else might we learn about storytelling, or narratives, or war, or understanding history?

    For motive, are you going to talk about the 60s? You had only mentioned the 2004 version in your first paragraph. I’m not 100% sure what a theological approach would be–what kind of scholarly sources do you think might find?

    For method, I wouldn’t try to compare “each of the narratives of the story told”–that will take forever! Is there one (or two) illustrative scenes you could look at? Either something to do with the war/history thing (like, does Homer talk about history in his book?) or a scene involving a religious component that is adapted in a unique and telling way.

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