Saturday, March 24, 2007

Movie Review: The 300

One of my first thoughts when I left the movie theatre after seeing this movie is that the American public is going to love this movie. It's extremely violent (although not excessively so, war really is quite violent), which America has proven time and time again to be a fan of--just look at Tarentino's success. It's sappy enough to appease everyone, even though it makes an explicit point of not being sappy (right before he leaves for battle, Leonidas tells his wife that he is not going to say anything too corny, and then proceeds to do just that, proving once again that we want the sappiness, we just don't want to believe that what we are watching is sappy). It reminds us just enough of Gladiator to know that we like it without literally copying every line from the script (although the scene with the wheat field came close). And, of course, the graphics are brilliant.

Finally, it has tons and tons of Judeo-Christian white man defeats mystic-loving ethnic man elements in it, which the American public is sure to love. And for me, this is the most frustrating part of the movie. The movie can alter what exactly happened on the battlefield if they choose to; I don't care. But when the producers start changing the players to suit their desires, things start to get dicey. Consider the following:

-The movie makes a specific point that Leonidas does not believe in his countries' own mystical beliefs when he says that he, unfortunately, "has to" ask the Oracle's advice. The whole practice is then ridiculed as simply the stammerings of an inebriated adolescent young woman. In the background, this is all opposed to Christianity, which is obstensibly more rational.
-During the battle, Leonidas calls out for his men to destroy the Persian's mysticism, which seems a little bit odd, since Greece itself was a polytheistic state, and certainly would today be considered mystics themselves today. Also, the Greeks throughout the battle are portrayed as using the "natural" practices of simply sword, shield, and spear, whereas the Persians have all kinds of exotic creatures at their disposal. There is a clear juxtaposition of the "pure," apparently monotheistic Spartans against the idol-worshiping Persians whose destruction is hence justified.
-When Leonidas dies, his body position is the form of the crucifix, drawing parallels to none other than Jesus Christ. The movie reveals once and for all its Christian bias.

I can see why America, a decidedly Christian nation, would appreciate this. But for me, it's a little bit over the line. The 300 is a movie to watch and enjoy for the special effects and action, but hopefully one that will not be taken too seriously.