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Troilus & Cressida (TV Movie 1981) Poster

(1981 TV Movie)

Trivia

In Ajax's (Anthony Pedley) tent, some nude pictures can be seen in the background. These are reproductions of paintings by Lucas Cranach.
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Jonathan Miller wanted Troy to be sharply differentiated from Greece; Troy was decadent, with clear abstract lines (based on some of Hans Vredeman de Vries' architectural experiments with perspective). The Greek camp, on the other hand, was based on a gypsy camp near the BBC Television Centre; cluttered, dirty and squalid. Miller envisioned it as built on the remains of an earlier Troy, with bits of roofs jutting out of the ground and bits and pieces of ancient statues lying around (although this idea originated for Troilus, Miller had first used it in his earlier Timon of Athens (1981)).
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On one side of the Trojan camp, a huge wooden horse leg can be seen under construction - the Trojan Horse. In the command tent, a schematic for the horse is visible in several scenes, as is a scale model on the desk nearby.
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Jonathan Miller wanted the Trojan camp to give the sense of "everything going downhill," with the men demoralised, fed up fighting, wanting only to get drunk and sleep (except Ulysses, who is depicted as still fully alert).
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The Greek costumes were elegant and bright, based on the works of Cranach and Albrecht Dürer.
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The Trojan uniforms were all khaki coloured, and although Renaissance in style, were based on M*A*S*H (1972), with Thersites specifically based on Corporal Klinger.
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Jonathan Miller chose to set the play in a Renaissance milieu rather than a classical one, as he felt it was really about Elizabethan England rather than ancient Troy, and as such, he hoped the production would carry relevance for a contemporary TV audience; "I feel that Shakespeare's plays and all the works of the classic rank, of literary antiquity, must necessarily be Janus-faced. And one merely pretends that one is producing pure Renaissance drama; I think one has to see it in one's own terms. Because it is constantly making references, one might as well be a little more specific about it. Now that doesn't mean that I want to hijack them for the purposes of making the plays address themselves specifically to modern problems. I think what one wants to do is to have these little anachronistic overtones so that we're constantly aware of the fact that the play is, as it were, suspended in the twentieth-century imagination, halfway between the period in which it was written and the period in which we are witnessing it. And then there is of course a third period being referred to, which is the period of the Greek antiquity."
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Part of the long running BBC Television Shakespeare project which ran between 1978 and 1985.
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