So far “300” has probably made enough money to pay each of the Spartans at
Thermopylae, or their survivors, about 300
grand apiece. So I figured I should chime in with my opinion. Here’s the review
I wrote for broadcast on WFNX followed by few extra comments and observations.
On the other hand, the sheer, idiotic exuberance of “300” belies
such pointy headed analysis. Could any story be more simple-minded? Here the
good-guys have bulging pecs and bulging leather codpieces, and the bad guys are
all either deformed, non-white or wear heavy eye make-up. Any questions about
whom to hate and kill? Meanwhile, Snyder’s kinetic, CGI-addled compositions,
his cutting, slo-mo and blood spurts, triumphantly evoke Miller’s hyperbolic
graphic style. And those so inclined can note allusions to artists like Goya or
Dore or to motifs in ancient Greek pottery. If it’s mindless entertainment you
want, or even entertainment for the mind, I’d give “300” 3 stars.
Goya or Doré? Okay, so I go off the deep end a bit (though if
compare with the former’s “Disasters of War” or the latter’s engravings for
“Paradise Lost” you’ll see I’m not totally off base). At any rate, here’s my
additional two cents worth.
1. Why is such a hit? It’s the illiterate’s “Lord of the Rings.”
The parallels are nearly plagiaristic. A horde of twisted Orcs led by a
superhuman malevolent tyrant against a last ditch outfit of pretty boys (okay,
no dwarfs or hobbits) determined to save civilzation. There’s even a Gollum
character. And like LOR, it touches on anxieties about the conflict of
civilizations currently known as the “War Against Terror.”
2. Speaking of which, it seems ironic that the Iranians are
complaining about the historical accuracy of the film
and its negative
reflections on their Persian ancestors, what with their nutty leader Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad and his denial of the Holocaust. But it seems in this case they
have a point. As historians have noted in articles about the film, it was the
Spartans, not the Persians who practiced slavery. And even in the context of
the film, people surrender their children to brutal military training (provided
they aren’t murdered at birth for not meeting the Spartan eugenics standards),
and resolve disputes by disembowelling those who disagree with them. What kind
of “freedom” and “reason” is this that they’re supposedly dying for?
3. The big fan base for the film appears to be red-blooded fan
boys, lad magazine types who see in it the epitome of the testosterone soaked
heterosexual violent guy movie. Or as this blogger
puts it in a posting titled “Guy Movies for…um…Guys:” “Leave it Frank Miller a
guy who knows how to write about real men for men to bring one home for the guys.
With the help of Zack Snyder, Frank’s award winning, dark graphic novel 300 has
been brought to the screen with enough blood and guts to get any red blooded
male with a pulse hard. This movie blew me away and could only be described as ‘dick
Well, I hate to be the one to break the news, but “300” is the
gayest movie since “Dreamgirls.” Did you notice that except for the dutiful,
grin-and-bear-it like farewell coupling of Leonidas and his queen, all the “normal”
male-female nooky takes place between deformed lepers and hunchbacks and doped-up
fifteen-year-old schoolgirls? Most of the film, you’ll remember, consists of
phalanxes of oiled-down hunks in hot pants with shaved chests and ripped torsos
prancing together in choreographed ranks like a goddamn chorus line. And don’t
forget, as the historians remind us, that Leonidas’s crack about Athens and their love of
philosophy and young boys notwithstanding, it was the Spartans who perfected
the practice of pederasty between fellow soldiers to promote unit cohesion.
4. Which kind of brings me to Gen. Peter Pace’s recent remarks
about the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy in which says that gays are
“immoral” and detract from military effectiveness. It seemed to work okay for the
Greek (and the Persian; those Immortals were a close-knit unit) elite forces. And
check out the Macedonian army of Alexander the Great while you’re at it. If you
don’t think gays should serve in the military, go tell the Spartans.