Thursday, February 22, 2007

# Posted 7:08 AM by Patrick Porter  

FIGHT IN THE SHADE: Getting very excited about the film 300, based on Frank Miller's comic-book account of the Battle of Thermopylae. Victor Davis Hanson writes an introduction to the film:
The Spartans fight bare-chested without armor, in the “heroic nude” manner that ancient Greek vase-painters portrayed Greek hoplites, their muscles bulging as if they were contemporary comic book action heroes.

Again, following the Miller comic, artistic license is made with the original story — the traitor Ephialtes is as deformed in body as he is in character; King Xerxes is not bearded and perched on a distant throne, but bald, huge, perhaps sexually ambiguous, and often right on the battlefield.

The Persians bring with them exotic beasts like a rhinoceros and elephant, and the leader of the Immortals fights Leonidas in a duel (which the Greeks knew as monomachia). Shields are metal rather than wood with bronze veneers, and swords sometimes look futuristic rather than ancient.
(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

Please read "Gates of Fire" by Steven Pressfield. The Spartens way of life was crazy and although they valued their freedom they were content to depend on slaves to maintain their economy while they trained for battle. I was always mystified by Athens loss to Sparta.Other books to read are Pressfield's book on Alcibiedes and "The Ten Thousand" about the anabasis.
I have read Pressfield, and agree that the Spartans' own slaveowning complicates the narrative of Hellenic freedom v Persian enslavement.

It just looks like a cracking film, that's all.
"complicates the narrative": what a hoot. Mr Jefferson, General Washington, you are complicating the narrative.
whatever dearime, I am simply looking forward to a good film about a great story.

I suggest you go elsewhere for 'gotcha' comments.
Patrick, how did you like Troy?
It was all right, I would have preferred Achilles to be a rampagingly gay hero-warrior.

I liked the fact that it blended lots of stories about Troy (ie, it wasn't the Iliad).

the best thing, I reckon, was that it evoked the powerful idea that immortality was to be achieved via heroic acts in a short lifetime, to be retold as stories later.

Of course, I wasn't watching it for historical accuracy. Some people evaluate these things according to that standard.

As someone trying to be an historian, its better just to watch fine myths being retold!

your views?
Accent on retold. I thought at its best, it was brilliant. A more or less godless Iliad, who'd of thought? At its worst, it was laughably bad. The scene with Aeneas. "What's your name?" "Aeneas." "Do you know how to use a sword?" This, coming from the wimp of all wimps Paris to the Roman stud Aeneas. Please.

All in all, I loved it but this was a minority opinion in my family. Brad Pitt was great but the women were weak.

Achilles ragingly gay? Ragingly bi. But raging. There's Patroclus and Briseis, a lot of both.

FWIW, I hated the Odyssey with Armand Assante. No risks, just special effects.
I highly recommend the recent production of Jason and the Argonauts.

Denis Hopper as Pelias!!!
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