Helen of Troy in Hollywood

How a legendary woman from classical antiquity has come to embody the threat of transcendent beauty in movies and TV


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Published (US):
Aug 1, 2023
Published (UK):
Sep 26, 2023
6.13 x 9.25 in.
8 page color insert. 50 b/w illus. 1 table.
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Helen of Troy in Hollywood examines the figure of the mythic Helen in film and television, showing how storytellers from different Hollywood eras have used Helen to grapple with the problems and dynamics of gender and idealized femininity. Paying careful attention to how the image of Helen is embodied by the actors who have portrayed her, Ruby Blondell provides close readings of such works as Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy and the Star Trek episode “Elaan of Troyius,” going beyond contextualization to lead the reader through a fundamental rethinking of how we understand and interpret the classic tradition.

A luminous work of scholarship by one of today’s leading classicists, Helen of Troy in Hollywood highlights the importance of ancient myths not as timeless stories frozen in the past but as lenses through which to view our own artistic, cultural, and political moment in a new light. This incisive book demonstrates how, whether as the hero of these screen adaptations or as a peripheral character in male-dominated adventures, the mythic Helen has become symbolic of the perceived dangers of superhuman beauty and transgressive erotic agency.