The movie "300" is one I have not seen, but my interest has been stirred after reading some reviews. What is the movie about? Victor Davis Hanson shares this:
Recently, a variety of Hollywood films — from Troy to Alexander the Great — has treated a variety of themes from classical Greek literature and theater. But 300 is unique, a sui generis in both spirit and methodology. The script is not an attempt in typical Hollywood fashion to recreate the past as a costume drama. Instead it is based on Frank Miller’s (of Sin City fame) comic book graphics and captions. Miller’s illustrated novelette of the battle adapts themes loosely from the well-known story of the Greek defense, but with deference made to the tastes of contemporary popular culture.
So this movie is not supposed to be historically correct, if I'm reading Mr. Hanson correctly. There is quite a bit of artistic license, -- 'King Xerxes is not bearded and perched on a distant throne, but bald, huge, perhaps sexually ambiguous, and often right on the battlefield, ... the main story from our ancient Greek historians is still there.'
Libertas has this:
Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a conservative or pro-Bush film. If it were it would be just another Hollywood polemic. It’s no message film, either. It is first and foremost a highly sylized, very violent battle film that will appeal to conservatives for the same reason it’ll have close-minded liberals — spoiled by thirty years of getting their way in darkened theatres — grinding their teeth: The film is not liberal.
What it is is illiberal, and it’s illiberalism is everywhere. Sparta is a peaceful country ruled by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) who respects his Queen and holds her opinion in esteem. In comes a Persian messenger who insults women and advises the king that should he agree to pay a tribute to Persia’s king Xerxes they will not invade Sparta and enslave its people. Leonidas’ diplomatic answer is to kick the Persian down a well and go to war. Now, this is not supposed to happen in movies. The black guy isn’t supposed to be the sexist, fascist, imperialist — at least not when there are white guys around to do it for him. And the hero’s not supposed to shun appeaseme– er, diplomacy in favor of war. (more)
Hat tip Mark My Words.
There is controversy, like the following from the Muslim Forum of Utah via email:
I read this review of the movie I just watched with my wife, and I have to say I along with many other Persians are very offended it by it. In addition, there are a lot of people from African-American to other races that are also offended by the demonic portrayal of dark skinned people. I hope you can spread this message across to others…If Hitler could have made a movie, this would be it. Take care and talk to you later inshallah.Movie 300 Review:
“I just saw this movie and I can't tell you how pi$$ed off and disappointed I am.
First of all, let me make this clear I do believe that artists should be allowed to express themselves in almost any way they see fit and that facts are open to interpretation but 300 crosses the line.
YES, this battle occurred. YES the Greeks were White but the leader of Persians, Xerxes, was NOT A TALL DARK SKINNED, GAY, TRANSVESTITE!! And the Generals on his side were NOT dark skinned Black people! The Persians, had not conquered the part of the world were dark skinned, nubian people originated from when this battle occurred, and yes African people did take part in this battle but I'm willing to bet they weren't the top dogs!
Instead the Persians are lighter skin people that more closely resemble Europeans not Africans, Indians or Asians!
Granted, Miller and his people wanted to go for effect, but what effect?
What would have been wrong with portraying the people as they really were and are?
Why couldn't you portray them, in terms of race, the correct way? The movie would have lost NOTHING!
Why did they have to make the Persians darker skinned in order to make them seem ‘more evil’ and threatening? Come on, I thought those days were over!
As to the real story, a portion is found in History and the Movie “300” by Victor Davis Hanson:
In 480, an enormous force of more than a quarter-million Persians under their King Xerxes invaded Greece, both to enslave the free city-states, and to avenge the Persian defeat a decade earlier at Marathon. The huge force of ships and soldiers proved unstoppable on its way west and southward until it reached the narrow pass at Thermopylae (“The Warm Gates”) in northern Greece. There a collection of 7,000 Greeks had blocked the way. They hoped to stop Xerxes’ horde outright — or at least allow enough time for their fellow countrymen to their rear to mobilize a sufficient defense of the homeland.
Among the many Greek contingents was a special elite force of 300 Spartans under their King Leonidas — a spearhead that offered the other Greeks at Thermopylae some promise that they could still bar the advance of the vastly superior invader. And that hope proved real for two days of hard fighting. The vastly outnumbered, but heavily-armed Greek infantrymen in their phalanx — taking advantage of the narrow terrain and their massed tactics — savagely beat back wave after wave of advancing Persian foot soldiers and cavalry.
But on the third day of battle, Leonidas’s Greeks were betrayed by a local shepherd Ephialtes, who showed the Persians an alternate route over the mountains that led to the rear of the Greek position. When he realized that he was nearly surrounded, Leonidas nevertheless made a critical decision to stay and fight, while ordering most of the other various allies to flee the encirclement to organize the growing Greek resistance to the south.
Meanwhile the King and his doomed 300 Spartans, together with other small groups of surrounded Thespians and Thebans, would indeed battle to buy the Greeks time. --Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers (read more there)
Will I go watch the movie? Not sure yet.
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