Helena, Teil 2: Der Untergang Trojas
(Helena, Part II: The Ruin of Troy)

Hektor getting ready to face Achille before the gates of Troy

Directed by Manfred Noa (1923/24)

CAST: (Trojans)
     Albert Steinrück (Priamos, King of Troy)
     Adele Sandrock (Hekabe, Wife of Priamos)
     Carl de Vogt (Hektor, Son of Priamos)
     Hanna Ralph (Andromache, Wife of Hektor)
     Wladimir Gaidarow (Paris, 2nd Son of Priamos)
     Ferdinand Martini (Agelaos, Acting Father of Paris)
     Albert Basserman (Aisakos, Trojan Seer)

CAST: (Spartans and other Greeks)
     Edy Darclea (Helena)
     Fritz Ulmer (Menelaos, King of Sparta, Husband of Helena)
     Karl Wüstenhagen (Agamennon, King of Mykene, Brother of Menelaos)
     Carlo Aldini (Achille)
     Karel Lamac (Patroklos, Achilles' Lover)

******

Based upon Homer's Illiad, this monumental effort by Manfred Noa and the Emelka Studio of the abduction of Helena and the fall of Troja failed to recoup its huge production costs. Common opinion said that Helena was eclipsed by Fritz Lang's Die Niebelungen. While Helena was more old fashioned than Die Niebelungen, it is hard to imagine that the movie going public would only go to one movie that year. For whatever reason, Emelka went into bankruptcy in 1925, and Manfred Noa and his films fell into oblivion. Of interest, Hanna Ralph, the actress who played Hektor's wife Andromache, appeared in Die Niebelungen as the ferocious Queen of Burgundy.

******

The Greeks spent long years outside the walls of Troja. The perfidious Thersites starts a revolt against Achille and his lover, Patroklos, by wondering whether a crown of laurel leaves is worth the long siege. Achille smites him and says he will duel with Hektor to determine the outcome of the war. Menelaos, Helena's husband, says it's up to him to decide the end of the siege, and he will end it with a fight with Paris. Agamemnon tells Achille he has not quarreled with Hektor, and Achille must obey king Menelaos. Achille stalks off in anger.

In Troja, the heroes are sulky. Paris is told to get Priamos to return Helena to the Greeks to end the long war. Helena enters and the men are enraptured by her beauty. She asks to be returned to the Greeks for the good of Troja, but Priamos tells her to remain.

Helena asks Paris to promise to stay in the background and not to fight. Hekabe enters and asks Helena to return to Sparta so that Paris doesn't have to fight. Hektor visits Helena, and she tells him not to get into the war. He embraces her, and then realizes what he is doing and leaves. He goes to his wife Andromache and puts on his armor. She asks Hektor if he wishes to make his son an orphan? He says goodbye to them both and goes off to fight. Andromache goes to Helena and tells her that because of her Hektor will die. Paris puts on his armor and goes out to fight.

Hektor with Helena

While the two armies fight on the plain, Achille sites in his tent in a rage. Patroklos runs in and tells him Hektor is on the field. Achille picks up his lance, but then tells Patroklos he can no longer assist the Greeks. He asks Patroklos to bring in dancing girls and musicians to drown out the sound of battle. Patroklos is jealous of Achille's attention to the dancers.

Menelaos and Hektor face each other, and Menelaos says that one of them must die. The side of whoever wins will end the war. They draw lots, and Paris throws his spear first. He fights with Menelaos, but Helena arrives in a chariot; and before Menelaos can kill Paris, she implores him to stop. He throws down his sword, but his brother Agamemnon starts to kill Paris. Hektor commands the Trojan army to fight the Greeks. They run after the Greeks who retreat to their camp.

Inside his tent, Achille kisses a dancing girl which irritates Patroklos mightily. A messenger arrives to tell Achille that Hektor is in the camp. Patroklos offers to fight Hektor himself. Menelaos arrives out of breath to gasp that if Achille won't fight, they are all lost. Patroklos agains begs to fight, and another messenger arrives saying their ships are on fire. Patroklos puts on Achille's armor and goes to fight.

A messenger tells Hektor's wife, Andromache, that the Greek ships are on fire and that Hektor has vanquished the Greeks. Meanwhile, Patroklos rides out to meet Hektor. Hektor mistakes Patroklos for Achille. He knocks off Patroklos's helmet and realizes he is not Achille. In his fury at being tricked, he stabs Patroklos to death. Patroklos's body is borne back to Achille's tent. In his grief at finding out that Hektor has killed Patroklos, Achille reunites himself with the Greens and vows to kill Hektor.

Hektor with Andromache

In Troja, the people celebrate victory as the first prisoners are brought in. The Greek prisoners recognize Helena and appeal to her for help. Priamos orders her to make them victims but she refuses. Then Trojans come running into the palace fleeing the onslaught of Achille and the Greeks. Paris and Helena find each other. Priamos raises his sword to Helena and orders her to put the prisoners in irons. Paris raises his sword against Priamos, and his father has him thrown into the dungeon. Priamos tells his soldiers to let a tribunal decide Helena's fate, and he goes off to see Aisakos. For eight years, the seer has languished in prison for predicting the destruction of Troja. Priamos promises him the treasures of Troja if only he will tell him that Troja will have a happy ending. Aisakos tells him that the oracle said Priamos would die, Troja would fall and the entire race would disappear. Priamos despairs.

Achille comes looking for Hektor. Hektor is locked outside the gates of Troy. When he sees Achille, he turns and goes forward to fight him knowing of his inexorable fate. Hekabe tells Andromache, and they go to the battlements to watch. Achille throws his lance into Hektor's neck. While he is dying, Hektor implores Achille to not leave his body for the dogs but to give him a proper burial. Instead, Achille ties the corpse to his chariot and drags the body across the plain.

A messenger goes to the dungeons where Priamos is with Aisakos and tells them of Hektor's death. Priamos roars for the guards to strangle Aisakos and rip out his tongue and blind him.

Hekabe calls for Helena to be thrown from the battlements. Andromache rebukes her and says to take their revenge against Achille instead of a defenseless woman.

Priamos goes with Hekabe, Andromache and their child to reclaim Hektor's body from Achille. His heart is hardened as he thinks of Patroklos and he says no. Priamos begs him on his knees, and Achille agrees to return the body if after the mourning rites Helena will give him the laurel crown to put on Patroklos's grave. Priamos says that if Achille comes to them without armor, Helena will throw down the crown to him from the battlements. Achille agrees.

Hektor slain by Achille

At the scene of mourning over Hektor's body, Paris is given the crown of Troja and told to protect it from Achille. Priamos also gives him poisoned arrows to kill Achille. Paris throws them down in horror, and Priamos tells him that because of his love for Helena, Hektor is now dead. Paris must avenge him. Paris picks up the arrows and says that now he has no choice.

The court goes out to meet Achille. He is by Patroklos's body but comes when he sees the funeral fires for Hektor. He wears no armor but brushes aside protection when he sees Helena on the battlements with the laurel wreath. Paris creeps up and prepares to shoot a poisoned arrow at the unarmed Achille. Helena sees Paris and tells him not to fire. She calls to Achille, and while she is looking at him Priamos comes to the battlements and tells the soldiers whomever kills Achille will have Helena as the prize. Paris shoots the poisoned arrow which hits Achille in his heel. It is Achille's only vulnerable point. He picks up the laurel wreath and dies. Agamemnon makes Menelaos swear to kill Helena with his sword.

Paris tells the stricken Helena that he would be lost without her. She tells him his odious action has killed her love for him forever.

Andromache and her child fall on Hektor's funeral pyre. Paris shoots an arrow at Priamos but misses. Helena tells Priamos to remember the grief of his cruelty and Aisakos's prophecy. Priamos tells her that she, herself has caused Paris's death and that now he will die.

After Achille's treacherous death, the Greeks decide to try a ruse to conquer Troja -- a giant wooden horse which holds their greatest heroes. During the night, the Greek ships hide behind a promontory. Priamos has dreams of death and destruction. Paris languishes in despair in his prison cells. Hekabe and Helena visit him, but Helena no longer loves him. Paris threatens to kill himself.

The next morning the giant horse is seen outside the palace. Priamos is wandering the halls lost in somber visions. Hekabe tells him she cannot rest knowing he is going to kill their last son. He says that if he sacrifices Paris, perhaps the gods will spare Troja. She tells him she has seen the death of all her children and at least to leave her the last one.

Soldiers come in and announce vistory - the Greeks are gone, leaving only a great wooden horse. Priamos rejoices and tells them it is time to kill Helena and Paris. The soldiers hesitate. One tells Priamos that a captive Greek says the horse is dedicated to Athena, and what should they do with it? They suggest asking Aisakos, the prophet of Athena. Priamos tells them that he has had Aisakos put to death. He tells them to bring the horse into the courtyard as a monument to his fault.

Sinon, a Trojan, visits Paris and Helena in the dungeons and tells them they will certainly die. Paris says he knows he is guilty and is ready to pay with his own life. He tells Helena that if they can't live together, they must die together.

The wooden horse is dragged into the courtyard. Priamos is carried out to see the horse, and the palace gates are left open. After a victory celebration, the drunken Trojans rest. A cup of poison is prepared by Priamos to give to Paris and Helena at dawn as a sacrifice to the gods. Hekabe comes to say farewell to Paris and to tell him to flee as the gates are open and everyone is drunk. Helena says that her death alone with be enough to atone for their guilt. Paris says he must die also.

A single soldier guards the wooden horse. The Greeks inside the horse shoot the soldier with an arrow. Paris carries Helena into the courtyard to escape, and he sees the dead soldier and the Greeks coming from the horse. Helena tells him not to sound the alarm. He rips off his armor and tells Menelaos to kill him. Menelaos stabs him. Using his dying body as a shield, Helena runs into the palace.

Priamos sees a vision of Aisakos and mocks him. Aisakos says Priamos and Troja are doomed.

A dying Paris tells Menelaos that Helena is innocent.

Priamos sees Helena alone in the great hall. She takes the cup of poison and throws open the curtains so that Priamos can see the advancing army of Greeks. Priamos grabs the cup and drinks. Menelaos sees Helena by the dead Priamos, and his love for her is rekindled. She asks him to kill her, but he refuses and carries her from the room.

"And Troja disappeared among the ashes and the ruins."

END OF PART II

Carl had already appeared in director Manfred Noa's Nathan der Weise in 1922 along with Ferdinand Martini.

This movie has been restored by the Filmmuseum im Münchner Stadtmuseum and has been shown on the Arte Channel.