11 March 2007
I saw 300 on Thursday at midnight, and I must say I absolutely loved it. This is what a comic book movie should be, using the comic not as reference material, but actually as the storyboards. This was also done with Frank Miller's other great work, Sin City, and proves that comic movies and green screen can be combined for an outstanding product.
I enjoyed 300 more than Sin City, mostly because of the subject material. A little bit about me that some of you do not know. I received my degree in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, which means ancient Greece and Persia were areas I studied in-depth. In fact, I had an upper level class devoted to nothing, but the relationship between Persia and Greece from the 5th Century B.C.E to after the death of Alexander the Great. I also love comic books, and I did my Speech Comm 100 presentation on Frank Miller's comic.
I have read many of the reviews online and in the paper about the movie and want to comment on what some of them are saying. The first thing I notice is that many of the reviewers criticize the movie for being a "guy's" movie, or a film with little substance and way too much violence. I know plenty of girls who want to, or have seen the movie, and they loved it. My girlfriend loved it visually, and for the half naked ripped men throughout.
Was the movie full of violence? Yes. It is a movie about a battle between a small group and a large army. Of course there is violence. Is war violent and bloody? No one really complains about Saving Private Ryan or some of the other war movies. Maybe people thought since it was a comic book movie, it should appeal to all ages. Wrong. That is one of the great things about comic books, some books are all ages, some are definitely not. 300 and Sin City deal with adult themes and situations.
These reviews also keep saying the movie is historically inaccurate. Unfortunately most of these morons failed to realize that the movie does not say "Based on a True Story" or something like that. They criticize how they make the Persians seem like barbarians, or that Xerxes comes off as effeminate. Frank Miller used Herodotus' Histories as a sort of guide, taking liberties whenever he felt like it, since it is his retelling. Herodotus takes the Greek stance that the Persians were barbarians, and also that Xerxes was feminine, as opposed to the manly, superior, sophisticated Greeks. Many of the lines in the movie were taken directly from Herodotus, such as "Our arrows will blot out the sun. Then we will fight in the shade."
I read somewhere that Frank Miller has some homoerotic tendency (they cite some of his other works), because all the men are ripped and very good looking, and the only Spartan to not show these traits was Ephialtes, who betrayed King Leonidas. Again this is something that Greek writers emphasized. In the Iliad Homer describes Thersites as bow-legged, weak, and lame. He is the person who opposes Odysseus in Book II. He makes negative comments and says they should leave Troy. Odysseus then beats him for speaking so, which rouses the men to continue on in battle. Herodotus set out to make an epic story, similar to the Iliad, therefore it is not surprising he borrowed elements from Homer.
This next complaint deals with those movie reviewers who think they are some kind of literary reviewers, and try to find symbolism in everything. The big one they are saying is that the movie is Pro-War for the U.S. against Iran. First of all, just because Persia and Iran are the same place does not automatically mean the movie is about the modern day problems between these two countries. It more or less tells us that history does repeat itself.
The comic's first issue came out in 1998 and the collected graphic novel was released in 1999. This was well before 9/11, the War on Terror, Bush II, and the current Iran issue. The movie follows the comic almost entirely, things that were added or cut still do not give me the impression of some pro-war secret agenda.
I have not seen this yet, but I am sure someone has complained about it: certain scenes, like the giant, or the guy with sawed arms, were ridiculous and could not happen. Remember, this is being told to later Greeks by Dilios, so I am sure he exaggerated somewhat, in order to help stir the rest of the Greek army before they battled the Persians at Plataea.
Anyways, the casting of the movie was superb. Gerard Butler was awesome as King Leonidas. I would love to know how they got his beard to look pointy like it does in the comic. Xerxes was played by Rodrigo Santoro, the guy who plays my least favorite Lost character, Paulo. David Wenham (Faramir) plays Dilios, the lone Spartan survivor and narrator of the events.
Zach Synder said in an interview with IGN.com that they purposely changed the fighting style of the phalanx, for visual reasons, and to mostly look cool. I am okay with this, the phalanx was not meant to be pretty, but it definitely was effective. The battle scenes in the movie looked incredible, and I am sure most would agree, it was a shame that Troy did not put forth the same kind of effort to make their battles look this amazing. One of my favorite things was the use of the red capes of the Spartans, how they flowed around them and moved during different fight scenes.
Photos from IMDB and CBR.