Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: April 7, 2007 | Publication: wordpress.com | Author: Ensio Kataja
Publication/Article Link:http://wihaz.wordpress.com/2007/04/07/300/

Yesterday I went to see the controversial new movie, 300, which is a film adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel bearing the same name. The movie is a fictional account of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE, where the vastly outnumbered alliance of Greeks fought against the invading Persian Empire.

Various Western critics, experts and journalists have denounced the film, although it doesn’t even pretend to be fully accurate historically, but situates within the genre of historical fantasy. Many reviews describe the film as ultra-fascistic glorification of violence, xenophobic, right-wing, macho, juveline or simply stupid. As can be expected, the left-leaning critics cannot tolerate any film displaying Western classical ideas, uncompromising attitude, masculine power and sheer vitality in a positive light.

300 has also received angry comments from Iran, where it has been branded as “Zionist propaganda” that intentionally insults the Iranian culture. “Kosher Hollywood declares war on Iranians”, screams a headline in Teheran daily. Apparently they would have preferred a politically correct version, where the proud Spartan warriors surrender and kneel before the Persians, apologizing their existence, like the Westerners are expected to do nowadays before Islamists?

I must say there is something very elevating in this film, however fantastic and pompous it may at times be, for basically 300 tells a story about freedom-loving people taking a stand against overwhelming odds. Whatever some critics say, 300 has already started to resonate with the Western audiences. I suppose the theme of honour and bravery is exactly what the mainstream wishes to see, especially during these times, when many films are tiresome portrayals of atomized, postmodern individuals and their nihilistic pursuits.

300 actually tells of a free nation fighting for its survival against a tyrant’s massive army. I guess I will not be the only Finn, for whom this film brings to mind Finland’s heroic fight against Russians in a Winter War. So in my mind the film’s Persian “godking” Xerxes transforms into Stalin of Soviet Union, who attacked Finland on November 30, 1939, three months after the start of World War II. Stalin had expected to conquer the whole country easily, but like Spartans in Thermopylae, Finnish resistance frustrated the Soviet forces, who outnumbered the Finns 4:1 in men, 100:1 in tanks and 30:1 in aircraft. Like Spartans in the film, Finns most likely still remember that “freedom is not free”.

300 is sprinkled with references to the eternal values and this undoubtedly can make some watchers uneasy. Similarly the portrayal of militaristic Spartan culture, which raised young men into warriors, will without doubt upset those, who see Sparta as a forerunner of fascism and would only prefer to see it portayed in a negative light. However, women might be interested to see, how King Leonidas’ wife, strong-willed Queen Gorgo, is portrayed as his equal. In the beginning of the film there is also an impressive scene, where the Persian ambassador quickly learns what it means to insult the Queen of Sparta.

In general, 300 is a bloody affair, filled with scenes of brutal violence and killing, so this might not be the most suitable film for the fainthearted. However, I liked this film enormously and highly recommend my regular readers to see it. I also hope that the success of 300 would encourage Hollywood to continue producing politically incorrect movies, which challenge the postmodern sentiments and refreshingly display the classical Western ethos in a positive manner. Who knows, maybe someone might one day produce similarly daring movie on Northern European pagan ethos, too…