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~Sophia~

300

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Howdy All,

Damn, I was hoping to be the first to post. Anyway here is what I thought of the film.

0054hrs EST

03/10/07

So I went to see “300” opening night, and let me tell you that the reports of sold out showings and large crowds for this movie are not exaggerated. Since it had been several years since I had been to a theatre for a movie I decided to splurge a bit. So my initial plan was to venture into what I like to think of as the belly of the beast, otherwise known as Easton Town Center, I think anyone that has been there will understand what I mean, so I could watch the film in IMAX.

I arrived at the ticket booth around 1840hrs, only to discover it was sold out until the midnight showing. Not only that; but the three theatres that were showing it in the normal format were sold out until 2000hrs.

So I jumped into the car and made my way back to a non-IMAX place much closer to my house and managed to buy one of the three remaining tickets to the 1945hrs showing.

I am very glad I did.

If you go into this movie looking for a fairly accurate though dramatic retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae such as was presented in the book “Gates of Fire”, by Steven Pressfield, you will be disappointed.

If instead you go to the movie with the understanding that this is a movie based on a comic book, by Frank Miller, which in turn was inspired by an early sixties movie called the “The 300 Spartans” than you will enjoy yourself.

The movie is not historical fiction, but instead is historical fantasy. If you take it as such you will enjoy yourself.

Some of the articles and reviews I have read have suggested that there is some sort of political allegory in the film. There is politics in the film, and yes gods forbid a struggle between good and evil. There is some emphasis on what I consider to be core western values, but those same western values would be presented in any unbiased account of the actual battle.

I think there really is no way one can recount this battle with any shred of honesty no matter how much you Hollywood it that can take out the fundamental kernel of the battle. To sum it up the battle was fought between men who thought that the state is to be controlled by the law and the people, and men who thought that the people and the law were owned by the state. For simplicities sake I will not go into the fact that Spartan society was based on a slave economy. The world has moved on since than.

I predict that there will be a lot of discussion of this movie in the national media, and I think of this board as well. I think that the national media will glom on to this movie and try to spin it to fit one or another of the political denominations if not both. As to this board, I can already imagine what some people will say of this movie, and I sure it will be a lively discussion.

Oh! Before I forget, the creators did a hell of a job with the CGI. In fact I was so lost in the story that I failed to really notice the CGI, and normal I am a special effects hawk. To me that is one of the signs of a well made film.

I guess the best way to describe this movie, is this, “Gladiator” is too “HBO: Rome”, as “300” is too “HBO: Gates of Fire”.

Sadly, “HBO: Gates of Fire” is purely a fantasy of mine. Hopefully “300” will generate enough interest and more importantly revenue so that something like that might be produced in the future.

Definitely worth seeing, check it out. I am going to see it at the IMAX on my next day off.

Rob

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I haven't gotten around to seeing 300 yet, but a few of my friends did - their impressions were less than favorable. Their major complaints were it's lack of any plot, non-sensical dialogue, and battle scenes that were either laboriously drawn out in slow motion, or sped up to the point where they couldn't make anything out. Overall recommendation - don't waste the time and money. If true, these flaws would make for a pretty shallow and unenjoyable film.

For those who have seen it and enjoyed it - could you confirm or repudiate the charges above?

Also - why isn't this thread in the "Movie" subforum?

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I just saw the movie.

It was a beautifully crafted piece of entertainment, although nothing more. Definitely worth the price of admission, since it was exciting from start to finish. There really aren't much characterization though, nor was there much to think about afterwards.

This movie is guaranteed to appeal to testosterone-charged males of any age.

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I don't care about historical accuracy of this movie. It was not it's intent.

This is truly a Romantic movie.

It portrays man as a heroic being, strong, efficacious, not afraid to fight against tyrany and mysticism even if the adds of winning are not good. Reason vs. Mysticism (and not only mysticism of the Persians but against the mysticism within their own society as well). Not afraid to risk his life for freedom. And, for such a noble cause, not willing to surrender.

It portrays woman as matching values of her hero and thus truly worthy of him. What a Queen!

If everything someone saw in this movie was beefcakes running arround shedding blood - I feel sorry for this person.

Edited by ~Sophia~

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Wow, givin the crap that is produced today you people are picky. We finally have a passionate movie about the heroic fight of mysticism/tyranny vs. reason/honor and its not just implied its actually stated and you guys wanna complain!! Geez, tough crowd.

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I liked it for what it was, but I would have preferred something more along the lines of "Gates of Fire" since this was a story about a real event. The real Battle of Thermopolye was about Greeks who were willing to die in a delaying action because they would rather be dead than live as Persian slaves. The movie 300 was about computer generated cartoon characters motivated by bloodlust and militarism.

Such was the power of the original event that there is no way to tell the story without giving some lip service to the value of liberty and the dangers of mysticism, but I think the director managed to do a lot to downplay both.

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I'm with Sophia on this one. On her recommendation I went out to see the movie tonight. I think most of hte battle plot would be what Rand characterized as melodrama, representing conflict among other men (which may be a bit why they seem like cartoon characters). The drama or inner conflict really is in the political goings on back at Sparta, and the queen and her actions, and maybe within the relationship between Leonidas and his queen (of which the only conflict is that Leonides will lose her when he dies.). To that end the plot for me was a little weak; however, I overlook that for the portrayal of absolute heroism.

If one knows the actual philosophy of Sparta, then you have to withhold judgement until you see it. I would characterize this more as Sparta recast with American slogans, and with a nod of admiration to Greece in general as the birthplace of reason (I think this is the most redeeming characteristic of the movie to mass audiences as I tire of the constant claims that today's democracy and liberty is based on Christian ideals). To that end it is revisionist, but only in a way an Objectivist would love.

The two aspects I could have done without are the brief segments where Spartan fatalism (what badkarma calls bloodlust and militarism) is incorporated (I am thinking of the very early "coming of age" portrayal of Leonides, and all the "good death" references). The other aspect was the over the top "goulish" characterization of the Persian army. I realize there is only so much battle footage that one can endure without tiring a bit and the increasingly goulish waves of Persians is a bit of a device to increase tension, but I found it hollow.

As to the protagonist portrayals and cinematography. I think this was the best aspect. These are fully heroic characters, and the stylized cinematography and music was phenomenal.

And how can you go wrong with lines like:

"You Greeks are so proud of your logic and reason."

"Today we fight against mysticism and tyranny for liberty and reason!"

"You, my king, only have to ask yourself one question. What would a freeman do?"

and my favorite,

"Your body had better finish what your fingers have started."

And I really loved the portrayal of the relationship between Leonidas and his queen. Masculinity and feminity! I'm definitely with Sophia there. I'd have to spend the rest of my life trying to earn the love of a woman like that.

For my money I still like movies like Master and Commander, and the most recent Count of Monte Cristo better, but as an example of stylized heroic cinema, I like this as well.

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It portrays man as a heroic being, strong, efficacious, not afraid to fight against tyrany and mysticism even if the adds of winning are not good. Reason vs. Mysticism (and not only mysticism of the Persians but against the mysticism within their own society as well). Not afraid to risk his life for freedom. And, for such a noble cause, not willing to surrender.

It seems to me that what you described is pretty much the basic premise of nearly every single epic movie (and a fair share of sci-fi and fantasy movies) from Spartacus to Braveheart to Gladiator to even The Lord of the Rings...

Granted perhaps without the mysticism portion.

The point is there is no doubt that this was a carefully crafted commercial film whose goal was to entertain. Some of the things you observed may be mentioned en passing, but the points certainly weren't driven home in any meaningful fashion.

I will ideally try to read the graphic novel the film is based on before I see the movie. The directors supposedly worked to try and get the shots in the movie almost identicle to the pannels in the novel.

It's almost a frame by frame remake of the original comic book, similar to the way they made Sin City.

Although to be honest I felt like this was one of Frank Miller's weaker graphic novels when compared to his master pieces like Dark Knight Returns and Sin City.

Edited by Moebius

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It seems to me that what you described is pretty much the basic premise of nearly every single epic movie (and a fair share of sci-fi and fantasy movies) from Spartacus to Braveheart to Gladiator to even The Lord of the Rings...

Granted perhaps without the mysticism portion.

(bold mine)

Which is a significant difference and a big part of why I was so impressed with this movie when it comes to it's philosophical message.

The point is there is no doubt that this was a carefully crafted commercial film whose goal was to entertain.

What is wrong with commercial and entrataining? Isn't that the purpose of making movies - to entratain many people to make a profit? When I go to see a movie that is exactly what I am expecting from it. When I want to learn something I read a book.

Some of the things you observed may be mentioned en passing, but the points certainly weren't driven home in any meaningful fashion
.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion but I beg to differ. The distinctions which I mentioned were made explicitly in this movie.

Philosophically and when it comes to it's 'sense of life' this movie was close to perfect for me.

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Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and thought it was worth every penny I spent seeing it.

But frankly I'm just not that impressed if we're talking about this movie as a vehicle for some sort of "philosophical message".

If you really liked it that much though (as I did), you could try the original Frank Miller graphic novel, although I think the movie did a better job at presenting the story.

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The point is there is no doubt that this was a carefully crafted commercial film whose goal was to entertain. Some of the things you observed may be mentioned en passing, but the points certainly weren't driven home in any meaningful fashion.

I would agree here. I'm not going to speak for Sophia, but for me. I didn't see it as a movie that carried a philosophical message, and I don't think it did a great job of characterizing how Spartans come to the values that they did which to me is why I said it was melodrama and not drama (except for the queen).

However, I can guess why Sophia liked it. That is because to a great extent it expressed heroism in as pure form, and in as consistent a form as I have seen in a long time. I forgive a lot of its errors for that reason alone, and frankly as an Objectivist, it's like drinking from an oasis in the desert. I'm happy to fill in the blanks in the movie in order to bask in the pureness of heroism represented. TO that extent, I may be making more of the movie than was really there, but I'm happy to do so for the reasons I've mentioned.

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I will ideally try to read the graphic novel the film is based on before I see the movie. The directors supposedly worked to try and get the shots in the movie almost identicle to the pannels in the novel.

That was certainly evident. The use of perspective and angle are sure there as they would be in a comic book, and the essentialization that you see in comic drawings was there as well.

You can check out some of the stills and the trailers at web site. It will give you a flavor for the cinematography.

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Even though I know this movie isn't really about historical accuracy, the more I thought the more I doubt that Sparta really fought for "freedom", considering their entire warrior culture was built around having an enormous amount of slaves around to supply them with food and crafts. Theirs is pretty much a second hander culture that relied on dominating others through means of force in order to support their standing army.

To be honest what the Spartan culture represented really should be vile beyond comprehension for all objectivists.

By the way, if I were Persian I would probably be pretty damn offended by how the Persians were portrayed in this movie.

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To be honest what the Spartan culture represented really should be vile beyond comprehension for all objectivists.

Exactly. The irony and probably the concrete example of this was when the Spartans made fun of the "citizen soldiers" that came to aid them from Athens.

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Even though I know this movie isn't really about historical accuracy, the more I thought the more I doubt that Sparta really fought for "freedom", considering their entire warrior culture was built around having an enormous amount of slaves around to supply them with food and crafts. Theirs is pretty much a second hander culture that relied on dominating others through means of force in order to support their standing army.

To be honest what the Spartan culture represented really should be vile beyond comprehension for all objectivists.

By the way, if I were Persian I would probably be pretty damn offended by how the Persians were portrayed in this movie.

I don't particularly discount their value given their practice of slavery. Almost every society up to the end of the Enlightenment practiced slavery. Even Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned slaves! Would you say they didn't "really" fight for "freedom" because of this? Are the Declaration of Independence, the War for Independence, and the Founding Fathers vile "beyond comprehension" because of this? One can say, after all, they were merely fighting to be masters of the imported African slaves, and not slaves to the British parliament.

Ancient Greece was no ideal society, either. They owned slaves. Only the (property-owning) men were citizens. Women were only marginally better off than slaves. They had a government that was truly democratic (mob-rule), not capitalistic. Nevertheless we admire them. Why?

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Even though I know this movie isn't really about historical accuracy, the more I thought the more I doubt that Sparta really fought for "freedom", considering their entire warrior culture was built around having an enormous amount of slaves around to supply them with food and crafts. Theirs is pretty much a second hander culture that relied on dominating others through means of force in order to support their standing army.

To be honest what the Spartan culture represented really should be vile beyond comprehension for all objectivists.

By the way, if I were Persian I would probably be pretty damn offended by how the Persians were portrayed in this movie.

I have to act as a Spartan apologist here. The Spartans primary value was "freedom," and their culture was entirely oriented on achieving that value. The Spartans believed that there were many other cultures that wished to enslave them that could not be reasoned with (and were in fact correct at the time) so naturally put a large emphasis on their military culture. Yes they had slaves, but even their slaves had more rights than most of the Persians did at the time. If I remember correctly there was even a way for slaves to gain citizenship through merit. Ultimately their mindset did elevate the Polus above the individual, but as far as the various constitutions found in antiquity are concerned the Lacedaemian Constitution was rather progressive.

Also there is no reason why a Persian should be offended by the movie, unless he was deterministic and believed that his race determined his personality (eg. this movie says the Persian empire was evil, I am Persian, therefore this movie says I am evil). By any objective standard, the Persian empire in 500 b.c. was evil... probably more so than could be shown using Miller's special effects.

Edited by badkarma556

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I would agree here. I'm not going to speak for Sophia, but for me. I didn't see it as a movie that carried a philosophical message, and I don't think it did a great job of characterizing how Spartans come to the values that they did which to me is why I said it was melodrama and not drama (except for the queen).

It is also not shown in TF how Roark came to the values he had.

However, I can guess why Sophia liked it. That is because to a great extent it expressed heroism in as pure form, and in as consistent a form as I have seen in a long time. I forgive a lot of its errors for that reason alone, and frankly as an Objectivist, it's like drinking from an oasis in the desert.

That is part of it, yes. If Spartans were as brave and heroic yet for some mystical or altruistic cause this movie would not have had the overall impact on me as it did. Alongside the things I already mentioned, Spartans not only embraced reason but were of this earth, living and fighting for egoistical reasons. And there was not a hint of appology for it.

To me, almost every scene was like a piece of art - almost every piece of dialog was memorable.

Edited by ~Sophia~

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I just saw it and LOVED it! This was a story about heroism. The sense of life of this film couldn't be improved upon, their overwhelmingly positive view of their chances of success, their proud acceptence of their duty toward their values, their assurance of the rightness of their cause, the excellent protrayal of strong femininity by the queen...seriously...there's no debating this...any of this films soulless detractors and I can just step outside to discuss it ;) This was a great movie.

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I enjoyed this movie for its good parts, but I thought it could have been just a bit better and elevated to the realm of *great* art instead of merely good. But, hey, making a movie is a lot of work and if you aren't prepared to do it yourself, you take what you can get! I think the getting was pretty good in this case.

I think, ~Sophia~, that it wasn't so much that they didn't portray how the Spartans arrived at their values, but that there wasn't any concrete demonstration of what those values *were*. Yeah, they said inspiring words often enough (Freedom!), but without some sort of concrete demonstration of *this is what we mean when we say freedom!* it rings as hollow as the platitudes of modern politicians.

They made some stabs at it and came close, but I didn't find anything emotionally gripping enough to really cheer on Leonidas.

Everyone in the theater I went to clapped when the queen stabbed Theron, though. I thought that was great!

I also loved Xerxes speech . . ."cruel Leonidas demanded that you stand . . . but I am kind . . . I only ask that you kneel . . . I am kind . . ."

Edited by JMeganSnow

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Exactly. The irony and probably the concrete example of this was when the Spartans made fun of the "citizen soldiers" that came to aid them from Athens.

I disagree.

Spartans did not make fun of them. Those "citizen soldiers" were the first to ask why Sparta brought so few (now the tone there did sound insulting). Spartans response was right: they were soldiers and thus could do more, thus they were worth more in battle. Where is the "making fun of" part?

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Ancient Greece was no ideal society, either. They owned slaves. Only the (property-owning) men were citizens. Women were only marginally better off than slaves. They had a government that was truly democratic (mob-rule), not capitalistic. Nevertheless we admire them. Why?

I don't personally admire the Spartans. In fact I would say Athenian culture comes closer to being admirable than the Spartans. Spartan culture was particularly bad because of their insistence on using force in order to dominate and enslave their neighbors.

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