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Vox Audita Perrit, Literra Scripta Manet....
The heard word is lost, the written letter remains...
On the way home from the Easter Vigil mass tonight, I noticed a building in Milton Road with 'Gregory House' on it. I was all like "Hey!" and if I'm ever in the area again, I'll take a photo for my fellow House fangirls.

I was going to see Becoming Jane today with mum, but then mum decided that 300 was the order of the day. So I have seen it (and I'll be seeing it again with Amy and again after that with Libby- you are not getting out of seeing this film!). moony_girl13, I didn't go with Daniel or my other friends from classics, but I'll be sure to let you know what he thinks when I see him next, if you're interested.

I made a point of reading Herodotus' account of Thermopylae before I went to see the film, since I'm not particularly good with Greek history. I find it a little difficult to follow, so my knowledge pretty much extends just to Greek literature like Homer's epics (which I read at my leisure) and Greece as a province under the Roman Empire.

That disclaimer made, I seriously believe that cleolinda is going to have a ball M15Ming this. There was all the hallmarks: Our Lady of Soundtrack Sorrow (whooooaaaaaaaooooo!), wisecracking, and major scenes that are just begging to be mocked. Heck, people are already mocking the 'THIS. IS. SPARTA!' scene in macros. Gerard Butler seemed to be channelling Brian Blessed throughout the whole film and not quite getting there, though there was liberal use of the CAPSLOCK OF RAGE. In his quieter moments though, I thought Butler gave a good performance. I'm going to be a little biased about David Wenham as an Aussie actor, but I liked his performance too. Not sure about that odd accent though. And why did they change the historical character's name from Aristodemus to Dilios?

There were little bits of the film I liked, as I mentioned before. Namely the nods to history in some of the lines, and the Spartans mocking the other Greek city states for being pansies. If you're aware of Sparta in the scheme of Greek history, it's amusing to hear them paying out the Greeks. The Spartan women too, I liked. In any other historical film, it could be Mary Sue-ish, but Spartan women were brought up to be just as tough as the men.

The director really seemed to like the use of slo-mo. I can appreciate that it looks cool in battle scenes, but for the love scene? No. It wasn't particularly sexy.

I can really see why the Iranians are pissed about this film. Despite the fact that they are the victors in the end, the army is made up of deformed barbarians, giants and masked ninjas with two swords (*insert pirates vs. ninjas joke here*). I have to question sending shamans/priests into battle too (I read about the Immortals, but nothing of priests....anyone want to enlighten me on holy men in the battle?), but I thought they looked pretty cool. The blinged-up nearly-naked Xerxes (I'm certain that's not how Persians dressed, even kings) had a sapphic harem that seemed to be on a cocktail of drugs. And then there was that troll thing that seemed to have blades for arms. I can appreciate that it's about being faithful to how Miller drew it, but honestly, this was not the time to be putting out this sort of portrayal of the Persians with the amount of sensitivity that's around. And while I'm on the subject, I know that the Persians had Elephants, but can anyone verify Rhinos in the ancient sources?

Way to portray Ephialtes as a deformed nasty little traitor. I thought I was looking at Gollum with a helmet and shield when he first appeared. And ditto to Ephors being nasty leper monks. :/ I'm not sure I like the formula of DEFORMED = BAD GUY. It might have made it more interesting if Ephialtes wasn't deformed and another reason was given for why Leonidas rejected him to fight.

As for connotations of politics/Iraq war, I suppose I could see some, but I saw Bush-like qualities in both Leonidas and Xerxes, not one over the other. And all that said, even if Frank Miller's political beliefs influence his writing, we're talking about a battle that was over two thousand years ago. You can't compare one to the other!

On a somewhat similar note, I thought it'd be cool to show Leonidas getting crucified at the end, but I guess at the risk of further pissing off Christian Right groups, they didn't and instead we got Leonidas-as-Saint-Sebastian.

All this said, I guess the idea is to have a lot of striking visuals. That's integral to the success of a comic, and a film as well. And there were a lot of striking visuals here (I think my favourite was the oracle, which looked quite pretty). However, I think it was done better in the other Miller adaptation, Sin City.

And....that's all I got. I'm sure with the next two viewings I'll have more to say on the matter.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: Kingdom of Heaven Soundtrack- The King

2 comments or Leave a comment
moony_girl13 From: moony_girl13 Date: April 7th, 2007 11:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
The impression I got from the high-fantasy elements of the film (eg. how the Persians were portrayed) was that it was supposed to represent the Greeks embellishing the story -- which I suppose isn't too out of the ordinary when you consider how dichotomously the world is viewed in classical values (especially the good = pretty, bad = fugly thing), though the film probably did go kind of far (not to mention what when the film goes back to 'real-time' Plataea, the Spartans still look pretty fantastical).

And why did they change the historical character's name from Aristodemus to Stelios?

I don't know what Miller's actual reasoning is, but my guess is that if they'd gone with Aristodemus, then the totally awesomeness of the 300 would have been 'diminished' -- if anything, the film is supremely pro-Spartan (helots? What helots?), and if you'd included a Trembler among them (even when it wasn't really even his own fault), then, you know, it 'complicates' thing and takes away from the more black-and-white comic book heroic antics :/

Also, I agree with you that the modern-day parallels (if they must be made) are a bit more complicated than 'A is X and B is Y', but YES to the fact that it's a historical war and you can't make a direct comparison like that! It drives me INSANE that so many people act like the story of Thermopylae was created just NOW for the sole purpose of commenting on the Iraq War :headdesk:

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading your comments, and I'm definitely looking forward to your additional comments later and the ones from Daniel :) It's good to be able to read a review of sorts that isn't strictly 'OMG BEST MOVIE IN CINEMATIC HISTORY SPARTA ROCKS!!!!!'
normandie_m From: normandie_m Date: April 8th, 2007 12:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
The impression I got from the high-fantasy elements of the film (eg. how the Persians were portrayed) was that it was supposed to represent the Greeks embellishing the story

I remember saying in one of the comments on your journal that perhaps the best justification for the portrayal of the Persians was that the Spartans perceived them that way. Still, I've read that one academic is protesting that the Spartans would not have seen the Persians in this way. But again I think it's a visuals thing. The masked leper ninjas and shamans and the giant monsters looked cool to the audience, even if they weren't accurate and proved to be a sore point with Iran.

It's good to be able to read a review of sorts that isn't strictly 'OMG BEST MOVIE IN CINEMATIC HISTORY SPARTA ROCKS!!!!!'

I have to say, I've yet to see a really good film adaptation of Greco-Roman history, discounting the big 'Sword and sandal' epics of the 50s and 60s like Spartacus (which aren't that accurate, but have good enough acting that you can forgive the errors). Gladiator, while I liked the individual performances, didn't quite deliver for me; Troy and Alexander just plain sucked. And the most of the tv productions, save for I, Claudius and Rome were even worse. 300 didn't suck, but rather like Gladiator it didn't quite deliver what I would've liked in terms of a good story about the ancient world.
2 comments or Leave a comment