In many of the worlds through which I walk, Work World, Friend World, etc., I alone stand against the horror that is 300. Perhaps this is because, as a child, I read 300 and I liked it. I was even moved by it, stories of men using their manly chutzpah to overcome adversity spoke to me. I can’t fully understand why beyond the obvious fact that I was a bespeckled bookish young boy with little or no exceptional ability besides a penchant for reading escapist fantasy.
I went to see 300 with an open mind. I was even excited. The movie itself is an introduction to Zach Snyder’s directoral style. Where is he strongest? In visuals and dramatic combat. Where is he weakest? I think it comes down to a singular flaw that underlies many of his movies, a kind of blindness. Zach Snyder knows what is cool, but he knows not why. You can see it in things like, say, Watchmen where he glorifies a universe that I suspect the authors themselves did not love nor celebrate.
My favorite Zach Snyder movie is, without hesitation, Guardians of Ga’Hoole. Seriously. Give that man CGI owls and he shines as a true talent:
But that’s another blog post.
300 is a fictionalized dramatization of the Battle of Thermopylae. The Battle of Thermopylae, where the Persian army was stalled by a small group of soldiers at the chokepoint of Thermopylae. It’s inherently dramatic enough for movies by itself. But then came Frank Miller, that man who as far as I can tell is slowly turning into a raving hate machine, who wanted to inject all of his Millerian madness into it.
What you get is a movie that is simultaneously homophobic and homoerotic. Muscled Spartans, who decry those “boy loving” Athenians, march ahead of mere mortals, to fight a horde of mutilated monster men. They declare that they fight to preserve freedom.
That point irks me. Sparta was a slave state that seasonally went to war with their slaves.
“Oh hey, it’s Spring. Set the clocks forward. Also let’s go kill a bunch of slaves.”
Yeah, these guys are the real bastion of democracy and freedom. You know why they were such good warriors? Because they were so scared of their slaves rebelling.
They also fight clad only in sandals, cloaks, and loin cloths. Which, ok, whatever. It’s a movie, and a fantasy movie at that. That bothers me only in so far as it is inaccurate, but clearly accuracy is not the goal.
The movie also adds a subplot I hated, where the wife of King Leonidas has sex with a corrupt Spartan to gain the support she needs to send reinforcements to Thermopylae. The corrupt Spartan (McNulty from The Wire) then betrays her. She then kills him and…
You know what, nevermind. This movie is just bad. It’s a bad movie. There are highlights, sure, but it comes down to a story about heroic ubermensch white men fighting evil dark foreigners. All voiced over with the awful dialogue of Frank Miller.
It’s like Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead where it’s just a mouthpiece for Miller’s beliefs more than a good story. Miller just has a less coherent agenda than Rand, he seems to be a kind of fascist xenophobe where she was vocally pro-individualism.
Actually, I need to think about that comparison some more. There’s probably an interesting blog post there.