The 300 (Single-Disc Widescreen Edition) (2007)
Review by Ursus
The 300 is the best movie ever fashioned by human hands. It is a spiritual experience that elevates the soul into the realm of the empyrean. Beneath the blood and gore of gaudy special effects lies a powerful message, the likes of which we will never see again in our lifetime.
There are those who say the movie is not historical. Speak not to me of history! What is history but the lies of old men who seek to legitimize the warlords who stole a civilization by force of arms? Nay, let us not concern ourselves with something so trivial as the accuracy of events as defined by primary literary sources or archaeological remains.
What The 300 does is totally smashing our assumptions of reality against an unrelenting barrage of computer generated special effects. The blood gushing, the limbs flying, the guts splattering everywhere - these are not cheap theatrics designed to cynically assuage the lowbrow tastes of male adolescent fantasy. No. It is a ritual, an initiation, a deconstruction of linear sense so brutal that one's psyche has but no choice to implode and open itself up to the greater ethos which the movie conveys.
And so we are transported beyond reality, to a hyper-reality. The 300 conveys not what happened, but what should have happened.
Take for instance the fact that many of the high ranking officials of the Persian empire are sub-Saharan Africans with a penchant for wearing nose rings. The less informed might take a look at a historical map of the time and conclude that, as sub-Saharan Africa was out of range of the Persian empire, then logically it is a bit of a stretch to have Persian envoys as nose-ring laden black Africans. But logic is totally beside the point. The Persians may not have been black Africans, but dammit, they should have been! Because it reinforces the sense of the other, the different, the exotic that is inherent in the enemy, in contrast to the normative values exemplified by our Spartan heroes. In like manner, having a seven foot tall sexually ambiguous King Xerxes reinforces the same perceived dichotomy. Surely we can appreciate the director's artistic vision!
Along the same lines, we can appreciate the elements of sheer fantasy depicted in the movie. An armored battle rhinoceros. Ten foot tall ogres. Ninja zombies serving as Immortals. Armored elephants straight out of Lord of the Rings. This is not history! It is rather a meditation on the primal, the grotesque, the sheer brute strength exemplified in our brave Spartan warriors as they fearlessly overcome their opponents. Leonidas and his warriors are the true beasts on display.
And what magnificent beasts they are. The 300 is the climax of a recent trend in Hollywood where good looks and athleticism triumph over actual acting ability. So much the better! Chiseled pecs and sweaty abs convey heroism much better than method acting ever could. You know, I think it would have been entirely appropriate if King Leonidas had, before the final confrontation with the Persians, recited a gloriously anachronistic St Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare's Henry V. The actor playing the king might not have had the emotional range of Olivier or Branagh, but he had biceps and a six pack. That is all that matters.There allegedly was a subplot to this movie involving the Spartan King's wife. Something about her holding down the home fort from the wily political machinations of a Spartan councilor, who was secretly in the employ of the Persians. I'm not sure exactly what happened because I fast forwarded through these scenes - they didn't have any battles and were thus quite boring. They were only a few scenes in the movie anyway, so I am not sure why they were even included. They could have at least put the queen in a bikini, you know? Or better yet, have her and the Spartan women dressed like Laker Girls, arrayed on the sidelines of the battle as they cheered their men. 2! 4! 6! 8! Who do we appreciate? Leonidas! Leonidas! Yay, Leonidas!
In the sum of things I think The 300 was the best thing ever. We will never see anything like it again. And that is a shame. We need to rewrite more of history this way, history as it should have happened. I want to see Commander Caesar of the Roman Space Empire invade the Planet of the Gauls and triumph over invincible Celtic battle androids. I want to see the black monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey visit the heathen warlord Constantine and transform him into a star child and celestial Christian. These are the stories we need to tell our children. Not the dry prattle they can find in college textbooks. History? Hah! History is for pedants.
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I am well aware I take an unorthodox position on this film, and may not be in agreement with the general consensus. But I stand heroically alone against the onslaught of the endless throngs of my opponents. I am a free man and will not kneel to the despotic god-kings of conventional opinion. Is this review madness? No. Is this review blasphemy? Nay! THIS IS UNRV!!!