The Fury of Achilles (1962)
aka L’ira di Achille
Article 5568 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Marino Girolami
Featuring Gordon Mitchell, Jacques Bergerac, Cristina Galoni
What it is: Sword and Sandal poem adaptation
During the Trojan war, Achilles becomes enraged with Agamemnon and refuses to take part in battle, thus turning the tide of the war against the Greeks. Can Achilles be swayed to return to the fight?
Given the number of sword and sandal movies I’ve already seen, and given the lack of plot variety in the form, I’m almost surprised that I was able to notice right off the bat that I hadn’t seen and reviewed this one. But then, I would have remembered one based on Homer’s great epic poem, “The Iliad”, which I have read. Still, I’m not surprised that this movie isn’t listed in many fantastic movie guides; since the Iliad is based on a war that is now believed to have actually occurred, it was thought of as a historical film rather than a fantasy. However, there are fantastic touches here (and in the poem); the ancient gods are active in the story, and Achilles himself, though he doesn’t have supernatural strength, does have supernatural invulnerability, and that detail does play a role in the plot. One thing I liked about “The Iliad” is that it does not attempt to tell the whole story of the war, but just a dramatically united section of it; it’s the story of the events that lead to Achilles’ estrangement from and subsequent return to the Trojan war; the poem ends when the Achilles story arc is completed. To its credit, the movie follows suit, and roughly follows the story of the poem, though it does spend a lot more time on romantic subplots absent from the poem and takes about half of its running time just to get to the beginning of the poem. It’s certainly one of the more ambitious sword and sandal movies out there, but I’m not sure it really manages to rise too far above the general quality of that form. Gordon Mitchell does a decent job in the title role, and some of the fight sequences are pretty good. It is definitely on the long side, though.