I just got finished watching 300–the movie adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae. Trying to get a read on thoughts before I offer my own I find posts about technique, about the western civ angle, and about its relative lack of emotion.
These bits stand out:
- How can a society value freedom if it kills its young who don’t conform to societal standards?
- The politicians were extremely weak, almost effeminate, in comparison to the manly male soldiers.
- The Persian army was comprised of Africans, East Asians, Southwest Asians, and at least one white soldier. By contrast the 300 were all white.
- Not only were the Spartans all white, they were all perfect …while the Persian army was not only non-white they were deformed (with a couple of exceptions).
- The strength of the 300 lay in their ability to bind themselves together into a single unit, and this binding was emphasized again and again.
The end result was the most fascistic movie I’ve ever seen. Even though the movie is told from the viewpoint of the Spartans, there is no reason why someone like me would want Sparta to be saved. It doesn’t value racial difference, thinks democracy is a crock (no compromise! politicians are punks!), has stark notions of who is and is not genetically worthy, over-emphasizes military conflict as a means of building city-state unity and security. I supported the Spartan traits of resilience, and perseverance, but this support was not enough to overcome my revulsion at the society we’re supposed to be rooting for. They may as well have been Nazis.
Beautiful? No doubt. Epic? You bet.
(Edited to add)
Stephen Hunter gets it right, though he doesn’t drop the f word.