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300 (2006)
What's accurate; what's not
27 March 2007
There's a lot of discussion of how accurate the film "300" is. Being based on a graphic novel gives the director license to stray from history somewhat; but it's more the fact that little is known of the battle that allows the director to be inventive. It's a legendary story in a sense, so characters can be overdrawn; although Xerxes truly was a magalomaniac who had the sea flayed with heated scourges because a storm sunk many of his ships as his army crossed from Asia into Greece(only the storm is shown in the film).

One thing that stands out as questionable is the Spartan King Leonidas invoking faith and reason. This would have been more accurate coming from an Athenian than from the leaders of an autocratic state like Sparta. But while individual freedom was not a Spartan principle, the notion of independence was. Sparta stressed its own independence and freedom from outside rule or domination, so its unified, regimented society was felt to be necessary to maintain that freedom.

Even more important, Spartan warriors were critical to saving Greece, which, as a whole, was indeed the seat of reason and freedom in the world at the time.

Without Thermopylae, the Spartans, and the victories that followed the West would never have been able to create the most successful and creative civilization in history. Periodically the West has had to fend off barbarians like the Persians, the Muslims in the 700s in Spain and France, the Mongols in the 1200s and the Muslims again as late as 1683 at the siege of Vienna. The question now is are we united and inspired enough to repel the Muslim terrorists who threaten us today.

300 shows a unified warrior people defeating (ultimately) a benighted, aggressive invasion. Where are the warriors among us today?
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Everything old is new
24 March 2007
I'm so sick of the PC and multicultural framework of all art today that it's good to see a rendition of the Columbus history told unashamedly from the viewpoint of Western hegemonists (my perspective)regardless of its obvious weaknesses as a film. March is a typical American actor who projects his own personna no matter what the part (Anthony Adverse or Phillip of Macedonia). It limited him but I happen to like the personna as did many other moviegoers. If I'm not mistaken his age is about right for Columbus at this time. It could have been more exciting but what is exciting is the whole enterprise that results in the discovery of the New World because of the persistence and vision of one man. Many earthshaking developments take years or months of plodding to come to fruition whether the Columbus landfall, the landing on the moon or the curing of polio.

It's worth watching just to hear the great score.
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Violence Without Guilt
28 November 2006
There's no getting around the fact that most of us really like displays of violence as those shown in "A History of ..." Producers and directors know that and I don't buy the claims of directors that pictures of this kind are meant to convey an anti-violence message. There's big money in those buckets of blood and no money in P.C. The film's three explosions of violence are masterfully done and we don't feel guilty enjoying it because, as in most such films, the ultimate victims are set up as so odious that they deserve whatever they get.

Another plus for this film is the well used but ever captivating device of having the violence emanate from a person whose image among his fellows has been benign, meek or even cowardly. (Remember Glenn Ford as the storekeeper in 1950s movie, "The Fastest Gun Alive"?)

On another note, perhaps someone out there can help me and I hope this doesn't classify as a spoiler. Since seeing the film I have been aching with curiosity about a specific locale used in it. The book was partly set in New York, but in the movie the big city used is Philadelphia. A bar called "The Track 'n Turf" is a brief setting and one of the characters in a later scene comments on the age of the place. I grew up right down the street from the T&T in W. Phila. I figure someone from the neighborhood must have had something to do with the film and wonder if anyone out there knows who it might be.
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