Tell me Leonidas, where exactly is this?
The Unemployed Historian on Blip, on Facebook and on Twitter
The Unemployed Historian looks at historical and biographical films with an eye for pointing out the historical truths behind the Hollywood fiction.
Dude, while it’s great to compare this to history, I think you are being quite insulting and harsh on the film. 300 was never intended to be a serious historical retelling and most of the style is based on Frank Miller’s work as you noted. But this is simply a popcorn flick! It’s one of those movies that is supposed to be entertaining purely on the shallow basis of fantasy action. To be racist would imply it’s trying to make a serious point about what Persians were really like. It doesn’t do anything of the sort.
It’s a dumb action movie that can be enjoyed on it’s own merits. Nothing more.
1. You’re missing the point. UH is all about explaining the actual history behind events portrayed in cinema–at least insofar as it’s known (the Persian campaigns against Greece were largely captured by Herodotus and can hardly be called neutral, but that’s beside the point). I think he understands well enough that 300 is a “popcorn flick” as you put it and not a real historical film.
2. Frank Miller is the guy who had planned a “Batman vs. Al Qaeda” comic book, but when the idea got dumped on, he changed the title character just so he could have his quasi-Batman fight off durka-durka-muhammad-jihad-style Muslims. This is a guy who’s willing to remove every ounce of nuance from THE WORLD’S SECOND-LARGEST RELIGION in the pursuit of a nasty, vindictive punch-fest.
3. 300 (both the movie and the comic book) rewrites Spartan history to transform Sparta from an autocratic city-state to George Dubya’s ‘merrica in the Peloponnese. He writes out the thousands of other Greeks that participated in the battle of Thermopylae–including the Athenians, who won the war–to paint Sparta as freedom-loving warriors who slaughtered ALL OF THE PEOPLES OF EARTH to defend liberty. You’re going to tell me with a straight face that this movie doesn’t have a political agenda? Because it wears it right on its sleeve. With a siren on it. That plays “Yankee Doodle.”
4. Once again, UH, I am so sorry that I’m the friend of the show who suggested you do this movie. <_<
1; I call that into question when he described the film as racist, ASIDE from it’s historical inaccuracies.
2: While Frank Miller’s attitude can certainly be questioned, I do not think Zack Snyder should really take NEARLY as much Flak as he got when adapting this. He was adapting a historical fantasy comic into an over the top and ridiculously cheesy action movie. If we take the film on it’s own merits, I don’t think it is really trying to be anything more.
3: Here’s the meat of my argument; This story is being told from the point of view of the Spartans. When creating a historical fantasy action film with Ninjas, Elephants and Muscle bound warriors dressed in little more than Speedos and a Helmet, this fits in perfectly as if we take it as telling the story as it would be described by the Spartans there. Think about it; the story is being Narrated by Dilios, who is describing the events to his army to inspire them against the invading Persians.
OF COURSE it’s going to be making caricatures of the historical enemies like the Persians. They are the big bad of the story from the Spartans point of view. It fits in with the culture as we have established within the universe that the Spartans see themselves as the superior race to the invading Persians. That would be what inspires the troops to fight until the very end! So for the purposes of telling a historical fantasy, it plays fast and loose with the facts and paints a very black and white picture of the Spartans vs. Persians that makes it an enjoyable film if you check your brain at the door and enjoy it at face value. Because really, because of the previously mentioned War Elephants, Ninjas and Cheesy dialogue, I could not begin to take this film the least bit seriously or see it as doing anything more than face value entertainment.
What you COULD call this film is a historical exploitation film. It’s exploiting base historical events to go wild for the hyper styalised historical fantasy. Honestly, if they had changed some names around and made it a fantasy world with fantasy races, not naming them Persians or Spartans, then I think people would have allot less problems with this movie since it would be even LESS based on historical events than it already is. It honestly makes more sense for this to be a historical fantasy enjoyable for it’s action and Narm charm, but not really any sort of intellectual commentary on what the Spartans and Persians were actually like.
I don’t think being a popcorn flick necessarily negates any problems that might arise from it (especially from Iranians).
The article I linked to above links to Dana Stevens in Slate, whose quote here I agree with:
‘[W]hat’s maddening about 300 (besides the paralyzing monotony of watching chiseled white guys make shish kebabs from swarthy Persians for 116 indistinguishable minutes) is that no one involved—not Miller, not Snyder, not one of the army of screenwriters, art directors, and tech wizards who mounted this empty, gorgeous spectacle—seems to have noticed that we’re in the middle of an actual war. With actual Persians (or at least denizens of that vast swath of land once occupied by the Persian empire).’
It’s worth noting I actually did really hate this film too. I didn’t like how it portrayed women, Persians, non-Spartans. Snyder and Miller can say they didn’t intend to be insulting, but they did end up insulting and offending a lot of people with this film.
Thanks for the comments, it’s good to have discussion like this.
I somewhat doubt that Zack Snyder really had any sort of real life conflict in mind when he made this movie. Plus as I explained above, if you look at this film as being told from the point of view of a Spartan, then it makes sense for the hyper stylisation to be far removed from the reality to be expected.
This movie is about as much a serious historical commentary as Axis Powers Hetalia.
I think you have a point, but the film even when looked at like that didn’t work for me. It was far too extreme in it’s the use of grotesque imagery and oozed far too much with machismo that it annoyed me.
As I say in the episode, I had to pause the film to give myself a break because it was irritating me. My conclusions are generally my honest review of the film. I’ve not yet had a similarly angry reaction to any other film I’ve done. I think a lot of it has to do with the Frank Miller style, I don’t read comic books, but I do watch DC Animated films. I had the same problems with the recent adaptations of his Batman comics.
Although on the subject of not having any real life conflicts in mind, neither did DW Griffith when he made The Birth of a Nation. But he re-booted the KKK with his film. How your film is received after you release it isn’t always what you intend.
So, Historian, have you read the War Nerd’s review of this movie? I’d be interested in seeing your take on this: http://exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=8516&IBLOCK_ID=35
That seems pretty a long the lines of a lot of what I was reading about the film while doing my research..
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