History can be hairy
Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: April 6, 2007 | Publication: couriermail.com.au | Author: Rodney Chester
ASK an Iranian, and it's the politics of good versus evil that is all wrong.
Ask an historian and they'll politely point out that the armies of Persia probably didn't include ninjas, giants and rampaging rhinos.
Much of the debate about Zack Snyder's 300 has centred on how this movie, based on Frank Miller's graphic novel, has tweaked the truth.
It also, let's point out, tweaked a few other things as well.
Snyder's tweaked our understanding of colour, creating a movie that looks like the film editor spilled his coffee on it.
And he's tweaked his actors who portray the brave 300 Spartan warriors, turning them into abdominal showmen.
One reason that historians have been a little touchy about the movie is that, in a way, the battle of Thermopylae is where history begins, and if you can't get the beginning right, then there's probably no hope.
You see, before Frank Miller wrote the comic, a bloke called Herodotus wrote the book, namely the Histories of Herodotus, which is considered the first proper written history.
Herodotus travelled widely, interviewing people about their recollection of things and meticulously writing them down, both for the sake of generations to come and to satisfy his accountant that his trip around the ancient world wasn't just a junket.
Because of his fantastic tales, he's been labelled the Father of History. Actually, because his tales are so fantastic, he's also been labelled the Father of Lies, but you can't please everyone.
Then there's another historian who also wrote the book. Paul Cartledge, author of Thermopylae: The Battle that Changed the World, has told the USA Today newspaper of his experience of being consulted for the film.
He admits the filmmakers left out a few key points, but generally it's close to the money.
The makers only once asked for specific advice that his book couldn't provide. In answer to their query, he advised LeonEEdas was the correct pronunciation.
The filmmakers thanked him, then went for LeonEYEdas instead. Perhaps it's a Hollywood thing.
You say LeonEEdas, I say LeonEYEdas. I prefer tomayto sauce for fake blood, you prefer tomahto sauce.
But let's talk about the real error in 300, which is not factual but follicle.
Three hundred Greeks strip off their shirts and there's not one hairy chest among them.
Talk about credibility problems.