300


[For more structural information on 300, see the IMDB Page. Check out the Wikipedia page for more info on the actual historical events.]



MovieHype00700 – 300



Few will argue the potentially concussive force of the dynamic moving picture, that is to say modern film. But movies hit us in different ways. Sometimes the blow is like food poisoning, coming well after the event itself, after our minds and stomachs have settled, and we have time to mull over the little things.

Other movies attack like a raging storm, smashing wind and rain over and over again against rocks and shore with implacable fury, like the endless icy night.

And then there are films you meet in a back alley, who grab you by the back of your head, entwining fingers painfully in your hair all the way to the scalp, holding you fast to its will. There are movies that quite simply fuck you in the mouth, forcing its way with you until it withdraws, leaving you bloodied and battered, bruised and swollen, wet and trembling.

Ladies and gentlemen, 300 is such a movie.

Made with reckless abandon and disregard to the post-modern hipster ironies that permeate the landscape, that permanent cynical scowl of today’s movie culture, 300 bravely pulls back the curtain on an utterly alien world. Ancient Sparta, where the one-eyed man would be king, not because his comrades are blind, but because he knows the truth of his people: it only takes one eye to see straight ahead, to walk straight ahead, to sight the enemy, to kill the enemy, to die gloriously.

To be remembered.

Postgraduate students can conjure up all manner of FemCritLit Theses bemoaning the machismo of our warrior culture. But those words fall like unsewn seeds on fallow ground of a Spartan battlefield, where the walls are literally built by the dead, and not an inch of free soil is given but rent in fire and blood.

Ancient Sparta, where Ethos, Pathos and Mythos meet as one, a true warrior culture almost unfathomable in our creature-comforted world where “rustic” means the duvet does not come with matching sham.

The sensory assault of 300 is not to be taken lightly. Whether this violent violation of your soul is welcome or unwanted I leave to you, the back alley and your gods. But know this: enter the world of 300 and there is no retreat. It will fuck you in the mouth and dare you to do something about it.


***


This ends the “artistic” portion of the movie review. My intent, whether nobler in my mind or under the slings and arrows of anonymous outraged critics, was to lay in your lap but a small understanding of what 300 is like. Not to dwell on the vulgar, but my back-alley analogy is indeed apt; apt, I say. Whether you find the movie exhilarating, like ballast shed from your soul, rather depends on whether you kneeled down willingly, or you were knelt.

I can only offer you a few guidelines:

If my words here have doth offended, one imagines that 300 will lie just outside your pleasure parameters.

If that indie-cred urge to look at everything through the lens of “the incredible ambiguous duo” hits you, the movie might be lost. Understand: besides whatever warrior culture Sparta held to its breast, it was a culture fundamentally different from our own in the following way: The epitome of virtue, honor, bravery, valor—and this cannot be stressed strongly enough—physical beauty lay not in the buxom silhouette of Madonna/Whore, but in the young male form. To that end, the male body in all its strapping glory is on display here. On display and then some.

Should that “frat boy” urge strike to make witty comment after witty comment, to lambaste the implied innuendo, thus showing all around not only how clever but how clearly masculine you are, well then I’m afraid my friend that 300’s meaning will forever escape your grasp. That a neo-classicist world-view is not what you bring to the table should not and must not keep you from understanding, 300 ain’t a “wink-wink” copy of “Men’s Health” magazine.

Like I said, these filmmakers, cast and crew, have shown themselves to be as brazenly fearless as the men they portray.

Will you be able to say the same?

5 comments:

Biff Spiffy said...

Wow dude. I had wanted to see it, but now I think I have to. Have to, I say.

Your analogy kept conjuring up an episode of The Shield, and it weren't pretty. I think I'm gonna go gargle something strong and fermented now, and blame it firmly upon Global Warming (it's a religion now, and Must Be Capitalized).

Rachel said...

I thought it was an inappropriate movie for a time of war and as a student of the classics I found it woefully misrepresented.
Also, these guys lost, their masculine ideal lost, they didn't produce historians or philosophers or art. We remember them today as people who committed infanticide.
It is held up as this warrior-ideal for modern men but ultimately this society didn't triumph and couldn't triumph. It took the soft Athenians with their drama and philosophy, with their democracy and messy civilization that laid the inroads for modernism.
It just disappoints me that your review is so wrapped up in the glory-nonsense of the movie.

Or maybe I am just a woman?

Hyperion said...

Biff Spiffy - I'm curious to see what you think

Rachel - There are lots of ways to write a review. I chose to give in some small way the visceral experience of the film with the words of my review. If you didn't like that, well, that's okay.

But most of your arguments were absurd. The world is almost always at war. Should we curtail all movies of war until that ends? People fall out of love every day too; should all romantic comedies be put on the shelf? You see where I'm going here.

What happened to Sparta culture again has nothing to do with the movie. All of your arguments seem to miss the central point: THE MOVIE IS NOT ABOUT NOW! It is not about any war going on, it's not about today's culture, it's not about what the Spartans may or may not have achieved. The movie is about that time, that place, and maybe you have to be a guy to enjoy that, but for the most part, you just have to be cool.

Grendel said...

I happen to agree with Hype on this one. I too am a student of history (Dark age lit. mostly) and I felt that this movie was not even trying to tell the history of this particular war. Instead I felt that this was the STORY of the war (supported by the narration of our one-eyed Spartan). That is why so much of it seemed so out there (enter the war rhinos) with a 9 foot tall Persian king, and some of the bizare armor. It is the tale of the war so it IS all about the glory, and the heroism and noble death. Otherwise it would have just been the opening scene to Saving Private Ryan for two hours.

Aslan said...

Hey I need the Rating system back:

Suspension of Disbelief Index
Genre Grade
Pantheon Percentile