First, some blather about 300. Discussion in our Core Readings class today devolved into me defending the movie from a pure "fun" standpoint against the two other people who actually talk in class.
The one who saw it (call her I Saw It or ISI) didn't like it for these reasons:
A) it wasn't historically accurate
B) the Persian elite guard looked like samurai
(i will debunk these shortly)
The one who'd only seen the trailer (call her Didn't See It or DSI) isn't going to see it for these reasons:
A) because that whole "Freedom" thing from the trailers bugged her (too modern, too excessive)
B) once again it has the white people = good guys, brown people = bad guys.
First, it delights me to no end that I totally beat down ISI. Hard. Let's take her first point - did the movie EVER pretend to historical accuracy? Hell NO. Why would one even think that it does? It's based not on a historical event, but on Frank Miller's graphic novel romanticizing a moment in history. Did people get pissed that Frank had taken liberties with the truth? Did they believe that Frank was going to pervert the minds of the world with his illustrations?
Ok, maybe some did. But I like to think that people with brains are not going to run around believing that the Persian king was a sexy giant, that Spartans ran around only in reinforced speedos, and that rhinoceri were used in every major battle.
Here's the other thing - the measured evidence, so to speak - at no time does the film act like a historical recreation. The visual texture and tone of the entire film has been touched, smoothed, brightened, softened, and digitally altered. All of the backgrounds were digitally created, all of the sunlight is artificially placed, heck, even the wheat fields move at an artificial pace. This movie constantly reminds you, visually, that is a constructed and idealized vision. Finally, the narration is eventually revealed as a fireside story - the valorized myth told to warriors the night before their battle. How, precisely, does that kind of oral story telling ever indicate the "truth" or historical accuracy?
And as far as the Persian elite guard looking like samurai - can I just say she's wrong? Yes, I think I can. Samurai look like this:
NOT like this:
As far as DSI goes, she was far more rational, and once I'd explained it's a fantasy she was willing to concede the whole freedom thing - she didn't like it, but hey, we're dealing with people's fantasies of the Greek city states. And as far as the white/brown thing - well, she's kind of got me dead to rights there. It did suck. They were, however, drawn that way.