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Submitted by Aaron on Tue, 2007-03-13 14:27
* minor spoilers may be below. Nothing that should give away the film or detract from seeing it.
I saw this in IMAX this weekend, and loved it. I declare 300 joining Shawshank Redemption and Incredibles in the 'mandatory films for Objectivists' category. Go see it!
First I'll note my criticisms of it, minor compared to the great spectacle overall. Frank Miller seems initially conflicted in his presentation of the Spartans. The beginning shows realistic dark sides such as exposing weak babies to the elements and forcing male children into violent training - leading me to believe the film would be true-to-life but dark and gritty. The majority of the film, however, portrays a romanticized view of the Spartans - which works so well I'd truly have preferred Miller just went with this from the beginning. That portrayal and some other historical elements are admittedly not realistic - but serve well a heroic epic. I personally enjoy ancient military history - battles of Caesar, Attila, Hannibal, etc. - and reread about the battle of Thermopylae before seeing the movie. I won't get into details, but quickly realized you must set aside pure concern for historical accuracy to revel in the larger-than-life tale. Accept it as a heroic and romantic re-imagining to enjoy a thrilling experience.
Seeing 300 is, in a word, awesome. The imagery of the world and scenery alone is breathtaking - to say nothing of the battle scenes themselves. The presentation of battles I'll take over martial arts or Matrix any day. Speed changes, but no gratuitous camera spins or drawn-out fights between individuals. Fights are brutal, bloody, quick, but many. I found chilling the presentation of Persian masses, creatures real or fantastic, and Xerxes. The most awe-inspiring - in visuals but also in theme - scenes to me all involved driving invaders off a cliff, a well, to the sea, a sense of permanence and never-having-to-look-back not matched even by slain Immortals on the battlefield. I do not know how much of the sensory experience of this film was due to where I saw it; I think this undoubtedly a 'big screen' movie though and that the IMAX viewing was worth it.
Unless you enjoy watching men with ripped abs in leather underwear - not my cup of tea - 300 has very few scenes with nudity or that could be called sexual. Yet those really stood out. I believe the powerful sensual experience of the entire film definitely helped make those scenes incredibly hot.
While Miller rather than the Greeks created much of the inspiring rhetoric, I reveled in a couple of the best lines from battle which did spring from the annals of history:
Greek messenger- "The Persians number so great their arrows shall blot out the sun."
I shall have to see the movie again to see if my favorite scene - involving the original Persian messengers - has the accompanying darkly witty phrase from history.
Most significantly, 300 presents heroes without doubt or apology. There are no anti-heroes to be found, none just going through the motions, no muddled or conflicted 'heroes' succumbing to this or that weakness or folly. The rhetoric of Leonidas and others inspire, touting reason, freedom, and deriding the mysticism not only of the East but of the Greek's own gods and Oracle. Their confidence is unshaken, resolve unrelenting, and words matched by actions to the last stand. Not just imagery, not just presentation, but heroism and sense of life make this film awesome.
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