Tuesday, November 13, 2007
There are apparently 300 ways to try and convince the people that waging war on the Middle East is a good idea. One of them is to take a historical account of an attack on a Greek city, add some amazing visual effects, insert post 9/11 terminology and imagery and package it as a movie (now out on DVD)
300 is a film adaptation of the graphic novel by Frank Miller (author of Sin City). It is a heavily fictionalized account of the Battle of Thermopylae of 480BC, when King Leonidis of Sparta organized 300 men to resist the invading Persian Empire, a world super power bent on conquest. Though drastically outnumbered by the attacking Persians (modern estimates are upwards of 200 to 1), the Spartans used their superior training, discipline, and knowledge of local terrain to inflict heavy casualties on the Persians, allowing the Greek army enough time to assemble. Though they were eventually overwhelmed and killed to the last man, the 300 Spartans’ heroic sacrifice in the cause of national independence rallied the Greeks and led to the later defeat of the invading imperial forces.
300 chronicles this epic battle, but the story twisted into a pro-imperialist exercise in war porn in an obvious attempt to equate King Leonidis with George W. Bush. Sparta is upheld as a beacon of freedom and democracy that can only be protected by unilateral military adventure. The Spartans opposing the war are depicted as corrupt and cowardly, using bureaucratic methods to stop this noble mission. The Persians on the other hand are portrayed as a jumbled collection of Middle Eastern and African stereotypes - amoral, decadent, dark skinned primitives - which underscores the racist under-currents of the flick.
There is no doubt that the movie is entertaining from a visual perspective, but even impressive camera work and editing do not make for the fact that the movie appears to be little more than a well produced commercial for the American and European war machines as they gear up to launch an attack on Iran.