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Monday, April 09, 2007

300 Movie- Review

Statutory Warning- “Spoiler Ahead”. Read on if you don’t mind a few details being let out from the movie

"Because only Spartan Woman give Birth to Real Men", said Queen Gorgo.

As a Mommy Blogger, this line touches me the most. As a Woman, this line touches me again. The order is intended. Before I became a mother, I never realised the intensity of feeling that a woman or a man experiences for one that has emerged from self. And therefore the phrase "it's my baby" is used for any project or creation that one does and one needs to emphasise the feeling of ownership that one experiences for that particular project. “The sight of the headless body of the Captain's son filled his heart with hatred (towards the Persians)”, made me realise how powerful the love towards an offspring is.

Before I started, this post was intended to be a cursory review of the movie and thereafter an analysis of the strategy and when I began, the course somehow changed to the above track. And I am glad that I watched this movie in a theatre else I would have never been able to concentrate on the nuances and links.

I did a little googling on the ancient Sparta war and their tribe and I am yet to understand the full import of the movie and their story with respect to ancient history. Also, while there are shades of dramatization, and the author has taken liberties with the plot, attire and rendering of the characters to lend emphasis or otherwise to the storyline, bearing the fact that it is a story from the point of view of a Spartan, I give credit to Frank Miller and Zack Snyder. It makes the viewer empathise with Spartans and even admire their militancy. As Frank Miller himself says, that in truth the Spartans was much crueler than depicted. The policy of 'you don't shoot the messenger' is not at all followed here, yet one tends to applaud when King Leonidas throws the Persian messengers into the pit for the slight to his queen when she joined the political discussion. Was it the woman in me applauding or the viewer in me, I do not know.

Spartan culture to me seemed like a blend of (modern) society with animal like touches. The reference to the customary infanticide to maintain healthy stock and the women & men seen as a means to creating a superior gene pool is almost animal like whereas women empowerment, shades of political grays, reference to democracy reflects our society.

If I were to equate the movie to modern corporate world, it could be explained in the following manner from the Spartan point of view-
Strategy- The Military strategy of the Spartans (& Persians)
Core Competence- the main profession of all Spartans were warriors not a potter/ craftsman engaged to do military duty like the Greek ally soldiers
Merger- Greek forces rallying up with Spartans
Back-end Support- Women back home, male progeny, reinforcements
Insider- Ephialtes
Competition – Persians

From strategy point of view bearing in mind the period we are talking about, the phalanx formation employed by the Spartan troop was nearly impenetrable. The Spartan army played by logic and physical strength whereas the Persian army fought with sheer numbers.
With my limited understanding of military strategies I cannot give much input on it but from what I could observe,
The formation emphasized on unified, almost programmed, nearly orchestrated, coordinated movement, speed and action.
The emphasis was on not creating any weak link in the formation.
The shield was the key for self defense and self-preservation. The importance of the shield is highlighted when King Leonidas rejects the application of the hunchback Ephialtes into the military after his failure to use the shield correctly. The dramaticised depiction of the entire army escaping unscathed when the Persian army rained poisoned arrows on them, further reinforces the importance

The drama involving Queen Gorgo that happens back home helps one relax a little in the midst of the war and also delivers the following messages-
a reflection on the society- the active role of women in politics and their empowerment
the moral (and otherwise?) support given by women to their men in their “career”. As King Leonidas rightly put it, in not so many words that a Spartan woman is as capable as a Spartan man to fight the war.
On a baser level, men across ages will be men- they will definitely attempt to eve tease!!

The Spartan warriors and the king slighting the “stupidity” of Persian strategy and throwing various one-liners from the pages of history gave a breather break to the serious war situation.

A few one-liners forced claps and laughs in the otherwise dead theatre including- “we shall fight in the shade” the answer given by the Spartan soldier in response to the Persian who says that the Persian army's arrows will blot out the sun. Infact there was one enthusiastic young guy repeatedly clapping for every good scene and one-liner and if my husband had been encouraging or supportive or if I had gone with a large group of friends, I would have joined him in his enthusiasm.

The blogger in me tried hard to look for anomalies which are spotted in period films quite often, like a watch or a (Reebok) shoe, but gave up after some time for the sake of enjoying the movie.

The makeup artists have evidently worked very hard to make some of the characters look despicable. The sages of the Oracle, the hunchback Ephialtes, the immortals when shown prompted me to shut my eyes lest I get dreadful dreams. Especially watching from the 1st row in Mayajaal, multiplied the eek value of the characters by several times. If the movie had been released when I was carrying, I would not have watched it. It’s truly “Prepare for G(l)ory”

In fact the androgynous (or metro sexual?) depiction of King Xerex has been criticized by some groups. I found him interesting but not repelling.

The narrative by Spartan soldier Dilios made it easier for me to follow, especially with my long-forgotten knowledge of history which is limited to chapters and classes and I do not have a bigger picture understanding to it. With the hazy memory of the dates I really fail to appreciate which kings or warriors were contemporaries and which ones were far removed by centuries -BC/ AD or otherwise.

Therefore, I request fellow bloggers to recommend one complete history book which renders the world history in an easily appreciated story form.


Ganesh Ranganathan said...

me first....

Sparta was the most militant greek state of all....The others were a bit more cultured...But bitter infighting between the states was always a source of misery for the
Greek....I read in a book, that if a Spartan was caught stealing something, he would be punished not for the theft but for getting caught...

The battle depicted in 300 was the battle of Thermopylae. Though I have not seen the movie yet, my friends said it is worth a watch...

Bombay Addict said...

Um, I'm sorry to be a nit-picker, but I think the line goes more like "Only Spartan women give birth to real men" (source)

Itchingtowrite said...

bombay addict- thanks for correcting me.. the words got mixed up- blame it to my poor memory - as u can see from the post on goof -ups. i can add this to the list. Have corrected the error

Artnavy said...

long post- most of it was greek ot me!!
the previous post- i salute you

Fuzzylogic said...

I am waiting for the movie to be out on DVD.Your post has made me even more curious to watch it,I am great history buff so this will be something I will enjoy.

By Deepa and Supriya said...

Since I enjoyed Gladiator, Troy and the likes..I will watch this...waiting for it to be out on DVD.

Anonymous said...

i loved 300... saw it twice last weekend in inox here.. loved it not because it was a war movie but because it was frank miller comic and because it had awesome style in the action. the sound effects were awful though. the same sound for spear thrust into someone, or on a stone or into thin air.. :)