300

Aaron's picture
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:
Persians- "Lay down your arms!"
Leonidas- "Come take them!

Greek messenger- "The Persians number so great their arrows shall blot out the sun."
Spartan soldier- "So much the better! We shall fight in the shade!"

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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Some good background

Lance's picture

Some good background reading: Persian Fire by Tom Holland.
I read that while on holiday in the Coromandel. It covers the rise of the Persian empire from nomadic beginnings

Amazon Review: "In this chronicle of the rise and fall of the Persian Empire Tom Holland emphasises thought-provoking parallels between past and present East/West confrontation. But readability does not depend on scholarship, political acumen and a sweeping sense of the larger historical picture alone. The reader is spellbound, as frail but wily Greeks outwit the Persian hordes and their gold-bedecked Great King. This is the stuff of camp-fire tales, told with the immediacy of an eye-witness: the stench, terror, tumult and unpredictablily of swaying fortunes in the legendary battles of Thermopylae and Salamis have a cinematic reality. Narrative flow is maintained by Holland's ability to bridge facts with intelligent and imaginative supposition - a far more impressive bridge than Xerxes'short-lived two-mile pontoon between Asia and Europe. The tale is told with a telling mix of passion, humour and conversational persuasiveness. We are left in no doubt that European history would have taken a different course if the Persians had won in 480BC."
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Persia...

Robert, lol! I love the part

JoeM's picture

Robert, lol! I love the part where the reviewer tries to soften the message of the Persians by saying that Leonidas was "undiplomatic." After all, all they asked for was "earth and water!"

Xerxes I...

Robert's picture

was a fruit cake.

A sea storm once thwarted one of his military enterprises and he had several of his minions to wade into the ocean up to their waists and, using whips, flog the incoming waves to punish the sea for its impertinence.

I notice that the 'reviewer' manages to forget that (1) Athens also booted did for their Persian messangers and (2) the message was: submit or die.

And the reason Xerxes was so intent on punishing the Greeks was that they had defeated his dearest daddy Darius I at Marathon in 492 BC. At the time Darius was attempting to place all of Greece under his thumb. But journos these days aren't supposed to read history, or even closely to dialogue delivered by the film's female lead who makes this very point.

But hey, take pity on the the guy. He works for the New York Post! I even wouldn't wipe my arse with that rag.

What the whiners are saying

JoeM's picture

You can see what we're up against in the "mainstream" media re THE NEW YORK POST. They've perceptively picked up on the Randian influence; but PERSIAN SHRUG? ( I suppose it's a play on "Persian Rug," but the pun misses the fact that its the Spartans who do the shrugging.

The reviewer tries to rally the gays against the film, pointing to the line about "the boy lover Athenians." I guess the reviewer missed the subtlety that the Athenians were child molesters. (Press the left on that, though, and they'll appeal to Foucult and the argument of pederasty.) As far as the claim that Xerxes is a 7 foot drag queen....well, yeah, he is. Ok. But that hardly makes it an anti-gay film. (Unless all those rock-hard abs were clouding my judgement...).

The worst of the offense? "But keeping in mind Slate's Mickey Kaus' Hitler Rule - never compare anything to Hitler - it isn't a stretch to imagine Adolf's boys at a "300" screening, heil-fiving each other throughout and then lining up to see it again."

Movie of the Year

JoeM's picture

It's no CLASH OF THE TITANS Eye, but not bad....!

Visually, Cecille B. Demille must be creaming himself in the grave.

If anyone wonders about the appeal of heavy metal music (old school Iron Maiden), this movie represents the best of what that genre offers. No apologies, no remorse, take no prisoners. (For those who shake their heads: think of Rand's ambivelance towards the methods of Ragnar Djanneskold.)

Linz, you'll STILL want to see this movie. Eye If I was a "Persian," I'd be pissing in my robes. Fortunately for them, this is a movie. However, if this movie were to have an effect...

All that and a bag o'chips.

Prima Donna's picture

Aye, that is where I first spotted the lad. Smiling Yummie.

Jennifer

-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Gerard Butler?

Melissa Lepley's picture

Ok, *now* it's a must-see!

Jennnifer, did you see him in Phantom? He can *sing* too!

*swoon*

Melissa

"Shiny. Let's be bad guys."

Bring an extra napkin, ladies.

Prima Donna's picture

AND it stars Gerard Butler, one of the sexiest Scots alive. I will most assuredly be seeing this one. Smiling

Jennifer

-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Oooooo!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

But warned though. If you take your girl-friend or Linz to this movie, make sure that they wear a napkin to catch the drool. The only think the 300 Spartans fight in is a loin cloth, a cape/cloak and sandals.

That AND it off-pisses Islamo-fascists? This I *must* see. (Checking napkin supply.)

"The Queen of Sparta is

Jason Quintana's picture

"The Queen of Sparta is smoking hot! I wanted to marry her myself when she filleted the opportunistic politician that was preaching appeasement in the Spartan Senate!"

Yes!

- Jason

Jason D. Quintana is not associated with the Ayn Rand Institute -- neither as a writer nor as a speaker.

Oh I don't know about

Robert's picture

it being loosely based on history. The preists are perverts, the Persian overlord is a power-hungry fruitcake with god-delusions... Sounds like it was drawn from the pages of todays newspapers Smiling

But warned though. If you take your girl-friend or Linz to this movie, make sure that they wear a napkin to catch the drool. The only think the 300 Spartans fight in is a loin cloth, a cape/cloak and sandals. Fortunately it isn't a complete sausage-fest. The Queen of Sparta is smoking hot! I wanted to marry her myself when she filleted the opportunistic politician that was preaching appeasement in the Spartan Senate!

What a gal!

Great Stuff!

Jason Quintana's picture

I really enjoyed this one. It is everything Aaron describes above. I suggest that everyone go see it. I can see why the Persians don't like it very much!! Jesus, they are not even humans, they are like the monsters from Lord of the Rings. But that makes the good/evil battle more distinct. It is a fictional film (loosely based on history) that portrays man as a heroic being. Great CGI, great action. Not much more you can ask for.

- Jason

Jason D. Quintana is not associated with the Ayn Rand Institute -- neither as a writer nor as a speaker.

Phil

Landon Erp's picture

Haven't seen it yet. Plan to comment substantially after having done so. Happy?

So far it seems like it will be an amazing sight to behold.

---Landon

Inking is sexy.

http://www.angelfire.com/comics/wickedlakes

I wish people wouldn't make

PhilipC's picture

I wish people wouldn't make all these two-line five second posts. They are too substantive, too thought-provoking, and are taxing my brain. (Whoops--I just did it!)

Well if it the Mullahs are

Robert's picture

getting upset about it then it's my duty to see it. Regardless of my misgivings about the Spartans and their 'culture.'

This must be good!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The Iranian Islamo-fascists have just complained about it, saying it's a conspiracy against them. We wish! Smiling

Clearly this is a must-see!

Linz

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