Monday, April 30, 2007


Reader Timothy Moran sends this link and comment: ‘Victor Davis Hanson, an expert on ancient Greece, says that 300 is told in the way ancients would have told the story of fighting the Persians.’ From the article, discussing the film’s attempt to follow Frank Miller’s comic book style: “The Greeks themselves often embraced such impressionistic adaptation. Ancient vase painters sometimes did not portray soldiers accurately in their bulky armor. Instead, they used ‘heroic nudity’ to show the contours of the human body. Similarly, Athenian tragedies that depicted stories of war employed contrivances every bit as imaginative as those in 300. Actors wore masks. Men played women’s roles. They chanted in set meters, broken up by choral hymns. The audience understood that dramatists reworked common myths to meet current tastes and offer commentary on the human experience.”

Moran asks, ‘That may be true, but if so, that raises other questions. Should we be telling stories in ancient ways or modern ways? Maybe we should take a modern view and avoid portraying our enemies as monsters? Is 300 a bad movie because it promotes a “tribalist” view of conflict, rather than a more “rational” view?’ Good question. One response I’d suggest is that art that causes us to question our own assumptions is probably more good than not. It seems like this movie has provoked more real discussion than any other film this year.

phlog ::: from editor :::



AAAH! Thats why I liked it so much ! Thanks!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02 May 07 at 09:00 AM

It’s a great point and not one that I had considered. I think that the film did very well in portraying ancient conflict in a light similar to how it would have been illustrated in such times, though I am inclined to believe that this is owed more to the novel than ancient storytelling.

Without reiterating the style-over-substance argument, the film can be split into two camps; on the left there’s the idea that such a manner of storytelling is primitive and lacking relevance with modern film, and on the right there’s the argument that the storytelling is minimalistic and thus through that reduction intensifies the raw, basic elements of the story.

There is a whole host of literature from the classical era and much of this is acclaimed still to this day (ignoring the value of the translations), so why can film not join this camp and tell a story in the ‘old style’? Well, it can, and it has, but that does not in itself make it a great film. My problem with 300 is that although it may portray an epic battle in a similar sense to as would have been portrayed at the time, this alone does not make it a good film.

300 was built almost entirely on this premise, that and the visual effects. The trailer really sold the film, but the actual film felt more like an extended trailer. In my opinion, 300 did not have enough strong elements generally required for a good film. That’s not to say every film must have a strong plot, or a strong script. However, a film lacking in certain elements should make up for them elsewhere, and the visual effects and overlay of authenticity in 300 did not. To be frank, after the initial few minutes, I found the film boring, adolescent and lacking creativity. And that is all failing to mention the rife ethical issues.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04 Jul 07 at 08:50 AM

I’m inclined to agree with Simon. I found the film lacking in sharp dialogue and character development, I cared so little for the Spartans that their plight was lost on me. There was not much pace to speak of and it was boring. In my opinion, the film was carried through by Frank Millers original work - it seems the film-makers were lazy. It felt like a band-wagon occassion rather than a project being lovingly taken on and cared for and developed (like Millers other adapted work, Sin City). Just because something looks good doesn’t mean everything else should be ignored. The film might have the cool factor, but for me it lacks everything else.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 30 Dec 07 at 02:53 PM
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