Go Tell The Spartans, Passerby, to See 300
Category: 300 News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: March 31, 2007 | Publication: Old Contemptible Blog | Author: Old Contemptible
Publication/Article Link:Old Contemptible
I was first introduced to the Spartans in 9th grade World Civ. I remember the teacher, who was also our headmaster, recounting the tale of the Spartan boy and the fox. As the story of Sparta and Athens unfolded, I began, for the first time in my life, enjoying school. I actually looked forward to going to class. Well, not any of the five or so other classes, mind you, just Mr. Church's World Civ. Soon, I became probably the first student in the history of my school to check out Plutarch from the school library. Of course, as the class moved on to Scipio Africanus, Hannibal, Cato, and Marcus Aurelius, so did my focus, but I never really lost interest in Sparta.
Years later, I was involved in an online roleplaying game based, in part, on Greek mythology. I dusted off Plutarch, and my fascination for all things Ancient and Western flourished again. It was during this particular Greco-Roman binge that I ran across Frank Miller's 300 while browsing through boxes at my friendly neighborhood comics shop. Having burned out on all comic titles with an "X" in the title or an "I" in the corner, I was very pleased with my find. Unfortunately, due to student loans and the fact that I was working two part-time jobs for next-to-nothing, my 300 collection was limited to the one issue I splurged on that day.
I was delighted when I heard that there was going to be a 300 movie, but I was completely underwhelmed when I saw the previews on television. Although I admire Frank Miller's work, I absolutely loathed the small bits of the Sin City movie that I watched, so I was disappointed to see how much 300 looked like Sin City. However, after seeing almost every blog I read barraging the movie with salvo-after-salvo of praise, I decided to drop my fin-and-a-quarter to see if the buzz was meritted.
To my surprise, it was worthy of all of the hype and then some. In a nutshell, 300 was 117 minutes of nonstop violence and sex, but it was also 117 minutes of masterful film-making that conveys one of the most important stories in Western Civilization.
My Laundry List Review:
# The Vision Thing: The movie's main draw was visual. The technique that made Sin City an absolute pain to watch actually worked for 300. The fight choreography was great. And 300 for me was a vindication of CGI. Wheras bad CGI can give us movies like Spawn, good CGI can give us movies like this.
# Costuming: Costuming was another of the movie's strong suits. As we see the defenders of Thermopylae assaulted by a veritable pu pu platter of warriors from the Orient, it has a beautiful pageantry to it.
# Casting Call: While I really can't rave about the acting, the movie was made much better by the decision not to megastar it up like Troy. The last thing the world needed to see was Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, or Will Smith as the King of Sparta. While I doubt any actor or actress will win an Oscar for this movie, Gerard Butler totally owns Leonidas.
# The Sound of Music: I liked the soundtrack so much, especially track #12 "The Hot Gates," I went out and bought it on Friday. Although their was one scene in which the Spartans marching off to battle are accompanied by a piper piping on a syrinx, the music for the movie reminded me of everything from Ofra Haza singing with Sisters of Mercy, to Dead Can Dance, to the soundtrack to Blackhawk Down. Of course, like any "historical" movie that has a contemporary soundtrack, it runs the risk of having its cheese factor increase exponentially when its viewed twenty years later (can we say Ladyhawke?). But, then again, the other option would have been have the whole movie scored by Zamfir and his pan flute.
# Historical Accuracy: And, finally, for all of those people who love to engage in the nitpickerry of cinematic defarbing, this parting message. Please insert "Frank Miller's comic book 300" where it says The Da Vinci Code.