Troy ~ Dharma-Inspired Movie Review
- Dharma-Inspired Movie Review:
Troy : Lessons on Our Spiritual Achilles Heel & Trojan Horsewww.troymovie.com
Taglines: For honor / For victory / For love / For destiny / For passion / For Troy
Reviewer's "Tagline" : For what & why?
This movie is a watered down version of the classic Lliad by Homer, in the sense that the key god-like (or rather, often ferociously asura-like) characters are stripped of their godliness and portrayed as mere humans. It thus becomes a more humane and credible depiction of human strengths and weaknesses. Yet ironically, the ancient myths of the Greek gods are human, so human... as they entertained thoughts of vengeance, and craved for power like any mortal, which makes it even more clear that the gods might be no more enlightened than us, despite having great power. Or is it that the gods were created in man's imperfect image by man's vivid imagination, which extended his ego to the supernatural to become super-egos? In "Troy", we see war being fought in the name of silent gods and mutual enemies pitting gods against each other. As Hector remarks of his uncertain faith in the gods, "Sometimes the gods bless you in the morning and curse you in the afternoon." But the truth is, it is man all along, who blesses or curses himself with his decisions and actions - yes, karma at play.
A central character in the movie, who is dubbed the legendary greatest warrior in history, is Achilles (played by Brad Pitt), from whom the phrase "Achilles Heel" originated, referring to a small but fatal weakness. In case you didn't know, Achilles was killed by an arrow shot at his heel. Mythology has it that Achilles was physically invincible but vulnerable only at his heel. I would like to think of the real Achilles Heel as something else - his ego - which was his glaring mental flaw, as opposed to his small physical weakness. Fellow Buddhists would not consider Achilles as the greatest warror as he did not truly conquer himself, even though he slayed countless on the battlefields. Arrogant and rebellious, he was driven by lust for immortalised fame and honour - all attributes being swayed by the eight worldly winds. He fought for no one but himself and is thus his own greatest enemy, though we see him hesitating for love, finally fighting and dying for love.
Who then, is history's greatest warrior or hero? As the Buddha, yes, the greatest warrior to fellow Buddhists taught, "Greater than one who conquers hundreds in battles is one who conquers himself." Ironically, Achilles is eventually immortalised in history in another way, as a lesson of the danger of being prideful, and of the need to be mindful, to cover our own Achilles Heels, be they in any form. Indeed, egoism is the Achilles Heel of many, even if subtly so. In fact, realising egolessness (anatta) leads to nothing less than enlightenment! Our prideful ego is also our Trojan Horse - a seemingly grand and glorious vehicle, which we treasure, which can actually destroy us from within, inside out, spelling our doom, both in worldly and spiritual sense.
"Throughout time, men have waged war. Some for power, some for glory, some for honor – and some for love." Thus reads a line from the movie website's sypnosis. But what are we really fighting for? Is is worth it? What should we be really fighting for? Enlightenment? Can it be fought for? We only have to let go of our ego, our delusions. Director Wolfgang Petersen muses, "There is an old saying that war brings out the worst and the best in human beings. But war is a disaster for everyone involved." Hector says it all when he utters, "I've killed men and I've heard them dying and I've watched them dying and there's nothing glorious about it."
What does the Buddha Himself have to say on war and violence? He taught that, "All tremble at violence, all fear death. Comparing oneself with others, one should neither kill nor cause others to kill;" (Dhammapada) Hence any form of violence is not acceptable. He further taught that, "Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain. Happily the peaceful live, giving up victory and defeat." (Dhammapada) Timeless teachings indeed, as valid for the Trojans as modern man.