The Trojan Horse (1961)

a.k.a. - La Guerra di Troia (ITA), The Wooden Horse of Troy (UK)

Steve Reeves and John Drew Barrymore star in a genuinely epic Historical Peplum. New Entertainment World German R2 DVD.

The Film

The city of Troy has been under seige for 9 years by Greek forces, seeking to avenge the kidnapping of Helen by Trojan prince Paris. Hector has just been slain by Achilles. In the city, the bold warrior Aeneas (Steve Reeves) is highly respected by the Trojan forces and the people, and thus hated by Paris, a divide that threatens to tear the city apart. The Trojan King insists on travelling to the Greek camp to pay his respects to his dead son, Aeneas defies orders and accompanies him, earning the respect of the Greeks. While Aeneas is dispatched to Troy's allies to seek re-enforcements, Paris makes a truce deal with the Greeks and provides them with a large supply of wood as part of the bargaining...

Based on the classic legends surrounding Troy, the film is set in the final year of the battle beginning just after the death of Hector and keeps pretty closely to the documented legends. In keeping with the Historical Epic theme of the film, the script avoids any mention of Gods and Mythical Heros (except in character's dialogue of course), presenting the story as straight forward historical fact. Interestingly, compared to other adaptations of the tale, the focus here is almost entirely on the Trojans, with the usually minor character of Aeneas brought into the forefront as the hero, almost certainly because he is one of the only Trojan characters to survive the film (and Steve Reeves could never die in a Peplum).

In contrast to the Traditional Peplums of the same era there is no 'good' and 'evil' here, Paris is the only real 'bad guy' and rather than a villian, he is presented as a neurotic narcissist who cares not that his lusty actions have lead to such death and distruction. Greek figures like Ulysses and Achilles are presented in a rather neutral fashion - both honourable men, who happen to be on the opposing side to our hero. The script as a whole makes for an effective movie, retaining a good pace and not padding out the run-time to unnecessarily epic lengths. However this also means that we lose a lot of potential characterisation, particularly of the Greeks and many interesting elements from the written legends are absent here. Fortunately the filmmakers realised the true reason why people watch these films and the majority of the second half of the movie consists of epic battles and fight scenes, building up to the inevitable climax which works well.

Lesser known director Giorgio Ferroni does some solid work here, giving the battle scenes a real epic feel and he is helped by an obviously well funded project that permits a full size wooden horse, two large encampments and an impressive cast of extras - although it takes some good direction to show off such assets, something that fortunately this film has. The soundtrack from Michelangelo Antonioni regular Giovanni Fusco, is typical epic stuff, with some of the nice choral themes that are often associated Ancient Greece.

As usual Steve Reeves takes the lead role, the musclebound American actor has regrown his Hercules beard this time around and we get another typically strong performance from him in a more dialogue based role than normal. Fellow American John Drew Barrymore is cast as the intellegent Ulysses, a relatively minor role for an imported actor to play, it suggests that the producers considered giving the film an Odessy inspired sequel. Warner Bentivegna gives a very effectively dislikable performance as Paris, while Nello Pazzafini and Mimmo Palmara should be instantly recognisable to fans of the Peplum and Spaghetti Westerns.

One of the largest scale Historical Epic Pepla, La Guerra di Troja boasts a good storyline and a strong Steve Reeves performance, as well as good direction and some great looking battle scenes. It comes recommended to fans of Steve Reeves and of epic movies and would make a great place to start exploring the often overlooked European Epics.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Steve Reeves - the big American Peplum star who kicked the genre off with his lead role in Hercules (1958).
John Drew Barrymore - American actor who appeared in several Peplum films, including The Centurion (1962)
Directed by anyone interesting? Giorgio Ferroni - a little known Italian director who also helmed the strange horror film Mill of the Stone Women (1960), Euro-war film La Battaglia di El Alamein (1969) and Spaghetti Western Wanted (1967).
Any gore or violence ? Nothing particularly violent.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? Recommended for fans of Historical Epics and of Steve Reeves.

See Also:
War of the Trojans (1962) Steve Reeves plays Aeneas again in this direct sequel.
L'Ira di Achille (1962)
Gordon Mitchell stars as Achilles in a smaller Peplum telling of the Trojan legends.
Helen of Troy (1956)
Helen of Troy (2003) TV
Troy (2004)
Other film and television adapatations of the legend of Troy

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour
The print is generally strong, with almost no print damage and good colours. However there appears to be a low-bitrate transfer leading to some noticable artifacting in a few scenes, particularly the fast moving battles.
Some scenes appear to be slightly stretched, probably due to the use of cheap widescreen lenses in the original production.
Audio English and German mono - sounds good.
English, French and German - all sound fine, with the dialogue and music well represented.
Subtitles German
Extras The disc includes:
  • "PR Trailer" - a random mix of footage from the film with the German title sequence newly added. Does not seem to be an original trailer. (50 seconds)
  • Lengthy still photo gallery - manually scrolling.
  • Steve Reeve biography - on screen text, German only.
  • Bonus trailers for the N.E.W releases of Iguana with a Tongue of Fire, Rome Armed to the Teeth and Almost Human.
  • DVD-ROM - the full film is available as an mp4 file with low resolution image, designed to be compatible with portable video players. File size approx 600Mb, German audio only. Some additional image files are also provided.
Region Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
Packaging A small hardcase, same size as a standard Amaray.
Availability German release. DVD Title: Der Kampf um Troja
Other regions? Available in the US 'Adventures of Hercules' boxset in a heavily cropped fullscreen print, this box is now Out-of-Print.
Cuts? The film is believed to be fully uncut. The print used is French.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 26th December 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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