07 October 2006

300

After the piteous showing of Troy and The Last Samurai, I'm hesitant to see movies with a historical overlay. Most of the time they're either poorly done (Troy) or utterly unrealistic to anyone with knowledge about the subject (The Last Samurai)... But 300 is based off Frank Miller's graphic novel. So, therein I'm torn.

I love Frank Miller's work. Brilliant storyteller.

But I'm afraid it will suck. I'm afraid that it will be a horrendous interpretation of the Battle of Thermopylae. I'm afraid that the wonder that is Miller's artistic style will destroy any accuracy that I want. The Battle of Thermopylae was a phenomonal situation that ushered in the democratic city-state of Greece.

Persia presented between 60,000 and 5 million men on the field of battle (depending on what historical record you go with. Modern historians lean more towards the 60,000 - 120,000 mark). The Greeks presented with a little over 5,000. Unbelievable odds.

300 is so titled because of the 300 soldiers that Sparta presented with and the fierce military strength of the Spartans. A favorite attribution of mine is that Spartan mothers would tell their sons to "return with their shield, or on it." The 300 led the Greek contingent against the overwhelming numbers of Persia. Fighting ensued (as it does) and all but the Spartan contingent and the Thebian citizen-soldiers fell back. Ultimately, the remaining Greek soldiers were decimated by the Persian forces, but that was a willing sacrifice. You see, before engaging in this battle, Sparta went to the Oracle of Delphi to find out what the outcome may be.

The Oracle reportedly told Sparta:*
O ye men who dwell in the streets of broad Lacedaemon!
Either your glorious town shall be sacked by the children of Perseus,
Or, in exchange, must all through the whole Laconian country
Mourn for the loss of a king, descendant of great Heracles.
He cannot be withstood by the courage of bulls nor of lions,
Strive as they may; he is mighty as Jove; there is naught that shall stay him,
Till he have got for his prey your king, or your glorious city.

In essence, the Oracle's warning was that either Sparta would be conquered and left in ruins, or one of her two hereditary kings must sacrifice his life to save her.

So, Frank. Please don't disappoint me. I don't mind if you take 'creative license,' but don't go as far as Troy did and completely omit the gods. There are many points of significance with the Battle at Thermopylae, don't omit them for rippling chest shots of whoever your lead is.

*Oracle's statement yoinked from wikipedia.org

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