[For more structural information on 300, see the IMDB Page. Check out the Wikipedia page for more info on the actual historical events.]
MovieHype00700 – 300
Few will argue the potentially concussive force of the dynamic moving picture, that is to say modern film. But movies hit us in different ways. Sometimes the blow is like food poisoning, coming well after the event itself, after our minds and stomachs have settled, and we have time to mull over the little things.
Other movies attack like a raging storm, smashing wind and rain over and over again against rocks and shore with implacable fury, like the endless icy night.
And then there are films you meet in a back alley, who grab you by the back of your head, entwining fingers painfully in your hair all the way to the scalp, holding you fast to its will. There are movies that quite simply fuck you in the mouth, forcing its way with you until it withdraws, leaving you bloodied and battered, bruised and swollen, wet and trembling.
Ladies and gentlemen, 300 is such a movie.
Made with reckless abandon and disregard to the post-modern hipster ironies that permeate the landscape, that permanent cynical scowl of today’s movie culture, 300 bravely pulls back the curtain on an utterly alien world. Ancient Sparta, where the one-eyed man would be king, not because his comrades are blind, but because he knows the truth of his people: it only takes one eye to see straight ahead, to walk straight ahead, to sight the enemy, to kill the enemy, to die gloriously.
To be remembered.
Postgraduate students can conjure up all manner of FemCritLit Theses bemoaning the machismo of our warrior culture. But those words fall like unsewn seeds on fallow ground of a Spartan battlefield, where the walls are literally built by the dead, and not an inch of free soil is given but rent in fire and blood.
Ancient Sparta, where Ethos, Pathos and Mythos meet as one, a true warrior culture almost unfathomable in our creature-comforted world where “rustic” means the duvet does not come with matching sham.
The sensory assault of 300 is not to be taken lightly. Whether this violent violation of your soul is welcome or unwanted I leave to you, the back alley and your gods. But know this: enter the world of 300 and there is no retreat. It will fuck you in the mouth and dare you to do something about it.
This ends the “artistic” portion of the movie review. My intent, whether nobler in my mind or under the slings and arrows of anonymous outraged critics, was to lay in your lap but a small understanding of what 300 is like. Not to dwell on the vulgar, but my back-alley analogy is indeed apt; apt, I say. Whether you find the movie exhilarating, like ballast shed from your soul, rather depends on whether you kneeled down willingly, or you were knelt.
I can only offer you a few guidelines:
If my words here have doth offended, one imagines that 300 will lie just outside your pleasure parameters.
If that indie-cred urge to look at everything through the lens of “the incredible ambiguous duo” hits you, the movie might be lost. Understand: besides whatever warrior culture Sparta held to its breast, it was a culture fundamentally different from our own in the following way: The epitome of virtue, honor, bravery, valor—and this cannot be stressed strongly enough—physical beauty lay not in the buxom silhouette of Madonna/Whore, but in the young male form. To that end, the male body in all its strapping glory is on display here. On display and then some.
Should that “frat boy” urge strike to make witty comment after witty comment, to lambaste the implied innuendo, thus showing all around not only how clever but how clearly masculine you are, well then I’m afraid my friend that 300’s meaning will forever escape your grasp. That a neo-classicist world-view is not what you bring to the table should not and must not keep you from understanding, 300 ain’t a “wink-wink” copy of “Men’s Health” magazine.
Like I said, these filmmakers, cast and crew, have shown themselves to be as brazenly fearless as the men they portray.
Will you be able to say the same?