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Say Anything BlogFact or Fiction? 300 Gets the Big Ideas Right!

Category: 300 News
Article Date: March 22, 2007 | Publication: Say Anything Blog | Author: Steve007
Source: SayAnything Blog

Posted by: DaisyMay

Victor Davis Hanson, historian, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution has this take on 300

Crowds are flocking to see the film 300 about the ancient Spartans’ last stand at the pass at Thermopylae against an invading Persian army. Yet many critics, in panning 300, have alleged that the film is essentially historically inaccurate. Are they right?

Here are some answers. But first two qualifiers. I wrote an introduction to a book about the making of 300 after being shown a rough cut of the movie in October. And, second, remember that 300 does not claim to follow exactly ancient accounts of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Instead, it is an impressionistic take on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, intended to entertain and shock first, and instruct second.

...the main storyline mostly conveys the message of Thermopylae.
A small contingent of Greeks at Thermopylae (which translates to “The Hot Gates”) really did block the enormous Persian army for three days before being betrayed. The defenders claimed their fight was for the survival of a free people against subjugation by the Persian Empire.
Many of the film’s corniest lines — such as the Spartan dare, “Come and take them,” when ordered by the Persians to hand over their weapons, or the Spartans’ flippant reply, “Then we will fight in the shade,” when warned that Persian arrows will blot out the sun — actually come from ancient accounts by Herodotus and Plutarch.

...that good/bad contrast comes not from the director or Frank Miller, but is based on accounts from the Greeks themselves, who saw their own society as antithetical to the monarchy of imperial Persia.

Victor Davis Hanson


Hanson summarizes the plot, but not the movie.

He has bare bones of it, but doesn’t cover the truly glorious film that is 300! The photography, enhanced by computer graphics, is shockingly beautiful. The dialogue and acting is terrific. Gerrad Butler’s King Leonidas makes Russell Crowe’s Maximus (Gladiator) look like a choir boy in comparison. Can’t see how you could do better short of Richard Burton. There is an excellent extensive female part, and it would be a mistake to think of this as just a “guy’s’ movie”. There is even some definite humor. My wife loved it. You WILL be drawn in and emotionally involved. Quite a few audiences seem to applaud at the end. They should.

You may have heard this is violent. Well,sort of. It is a genuine epic with many fight scenes. The film editor never uses the same camera angle twice, and the combination of color and shading makes for an absolute beautiful vision. Much thought had also been put into the music, and sound effects chosen by the director. But there really is little blood and no spilled innards, though there are antiseptic severed limbs and heads.

You may have heard that this is a “political’” movie, and it is true the the Iranians are not fond of it. I didn’t see it that way. Greece WAS the foundation of Democracy and Western Civilization, and the invading army WAS Persian. Can’t change reality.

In sum, the movie really epitomizes the words that are so frequently over-used. Spectacular. Epic. Glorious. Beautiful. Heroic.

Go see it. And don’t wait for the DVD.
Steve007 on March 22, 2007 at 02:15 pm


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