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David Martin




Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Joined: 11 Apr 2005

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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2007 6:54 pm    Post subject: The movie 300: Save your money.         Reply with quote

I made a big mistake this weekend: I went to see the movie 300. I'm writing this quick note to warn off others.

Without going into spoilers, my primary gripes were related to historical accuracy, or more appropriately put, the lack thereof. Apparently Hollywood didn’t feel that showing a phalanx in action would satisfy viewers, so they spiced things up with fantastical creatures, disco swordplay, and gratuitous gore with a nearly complete disregard for historical weapons and armor.

Even putting this aside, there were several logical inconsistencies. I was left wondering what the script writers were thinking when they put this together. The most fun I had in the film was thinking “Hey, that Athenian was vaccinated against Smallpox!” and “Wow! That guy just killed a dozen Persians, but doesn’t have a drop of blood on his sword!”

That 5000 – 7000 Greeks were able to hold a Persian army what could have been over 2 million (estimates vary) was apparently not enough. Sadly, no mention was made of the naval battle of Salamis, which was equally amazing. On the Persian side, it would have been nice to show the bridge Xerxes had made at Hellespont: Building a mile-long bridge by lashing ships together was an architectural wonder. How he was able to supply such an army must have been a logistical miracle.

In short, I think the truth would have been a better story than what was obviously a Hollywood cookie-cutter bit of cellulose waste. In my opinion, the History Channel's "The Last Stand of the 300" was much more interesting.

To those who who will contend that a movie should first be entertaining,with historial accuracy a secondary (or tertiary) concern, I will offer that Hollywood could just as easily set this script in a fantasy world. There was no need to distort history, or give less than appropriate homage to the brave Greeks and Persians who gave their lives in these battles.

"When war-gods meet to match their might,
who can tell the bravest born?
Many a hero never made a hole
in another man's breast."

- Sigurd, The Lay of Fafnir
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Marcos Cantu





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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2007 6:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I saw it this weekend on IMAX and thought it was very entertaining for what it was...a movie based on a comic book.

There was never any claim made about historical accuracy
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Michael Eging




Location: Ashburn, VA
Joined: 24 Apr 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2007 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

But they did set it in a fantasy world! 300 is based on a graphic novel that features really tremendous graphic art. My understanding is that the director was trying to be true to that. And I think he got it pretty close. Historically accurate? Nah. Just a popcorn munching, action/sword and sandals adventure that is "based" on historical events as translated through the prism of a graphic novel. I enjoyed it for what it was. No high brow history there... and the setting was a fantasy CG world shot against blue screen and brought to life entirely from an interpretation of the graphic novel.

Would I like to see armored up Spartans grinding the Persians against a phalanx formation at some point? Sure. But it takes the successes of movies like 300 to get those other movies made! I am finishing up a script now that hopefully will benefit from a good market (and I took my share of license - though it anguished me some, my job was to tell a story).

My two cents... use it for popcorn, or fantasy eye-candy like this movie. Cool

M. Eging
Hamilton, VA
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2007 7:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I haven't seen it yet and I probably will go see it because I am not expecting anything close to historical accuracy as this is based on " The 300 the graphic novel " by Frank Miller and is a lot closer in style to a comic book or a computer game.

Seeing about 15 minutes of trailer footage I completely abandoned any hope of it being accurate to history visually and probably has very little of the plot line following history.

I completely understand why you would hate the film if you go there expecting anything other than an over the top fantasy cartoon including unrealistic tactics and weapons handling.

As a fan of computer graphic art I may like it anyway. Eek! Laughing Out Loud On the other hand maybe not: I'll report back on it if and when I see it.

A lot will depend on the film working in isolation from any outside real world sense i.e. if it has internal consistency as if it was happening in a parallel universe ??? ( Think, " The Chronicles of Ridick " and not history ).

But this doesn't mean that you don't have the right to hate the film. Wink Laughing Out Loud Cool

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John Cooksey




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2007 8:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Well, I haven't seen it yet and I probably will go see it because I am not expecting anything close to historical accuracy as this is based on " The 300 the graphic novel " by Frank Miller and is a lot closer in style to a comic book or a computer game.

Seeing about 15 minutes of trailer footage I completely abandoned any hope of it being accurate to history visually and probably has very little of the plot line following history.

I completely understand why you would hate the film if you go there expecting anything other than an over the top fantasy cartoon including unrealistic tactics and weapons handling.

As a fan of computer graphic art I may like it anyway. Eek! Laughing Out Loud On the other hand maybe not: I'll report back on it if and when I see it.

A lot will depend on the film working in isolation from any outside real world sense i.e. if it has internal consistency as if it was happening in a parallel universe ??? ( Think, " The Chronicles of Ridick " and not history ).

But this doesn't mean that you don't have the right to hate the film. Wink Laughing Out Loud Cool


I wish the "Riddick" movies had really taken off as they were planned! Conan in space!!!!
About the 300 . . . .my good friend the comic book guru went to see it on opening night, and he liked it very much. He said it was very true to the look and spirit of the graphic novel, which he adores. I may or may not wait until it comes out on video. It depends on how much I want to see the charging "war rhino" and the overly pierced Persians. I tend to pick "period" movies apart (despite not wanting to do so), but this may be one that is much more of an "experience" on the big screen.

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2007 9:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John; ( Agreeing with you )

Oh, yeah this is the old apple versus oranges thing: if you try to make orange juice with apples the quality of the apples won't make any difference ! It will never make good orange juice.

It might be a great visual experience, but if one insist on judging it using history as the measure of it being a good film it will fail even if it is the best film in the history of the world. Wink Laughing Out Loud

The piercings on the Persian emperor really put me off when I saw them in the trailers until I saw that the artwork by Frank Miller was exactly the same ! Then I figuratively switched from seeing this film as oranges ( history ) to seeing it as apples
( Comic book ) and changed my mind about NOT wanting to see it.

Also, the film was shot in Montreal and the CGI was done locally so there is a bit of local pride involved.

For some reason Montreal is rich in gaming and film special effects talent ! ( Ubisoft to mention one firm )

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 1:41 am    Post subject: Re: The movie 300: Save your money.         Reply with quote

David Martin wrote:


That 5000 – 7000 Greeks were able to hold a Persian army what could have been over 2 million (estimates vary) was apparently not enough. How he was able to supply such an army must have been a logistical miracle.



Talking of historical accuracy, he probably couldn't have supplied such an army. Many figures for size of classical (and more recent) armies are now accepted as being gross exaggerations.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 1:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I highly doubt it could have been hundreds of thousands. Even if it was less than a hundred thousand the numberical superiority of it still is incredible.

I actually am getting tired of seeing so much gore in movies. I know war is gory and bloody and etc. but I think I do not need to see it in a movie. Most people know war is of that nature. I guess perhaps I am a minority, maybe it is because I have seen people die in very tramatic ways or that I am a father now but I just get tired of the constant gore in movies. Some like braveheart had good messages but too much gore. I will not see this likely as I am just tired of this strange obsession directors have of being unable to gather crowds by anything other than 60,000 gallons of fake blood everywhere in war movies. If the plot is good the movie does not need it.

RPM
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Kev Sutton





Joined: 13 Mar 2007

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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nothing worse than a bunch of History / sword/ re-enactment fanatics going to watch a film based on a graphic novel and then complaining its inaccurate! Razz

Please for future reference, go and read the graphic novels first, get an idea of what you are going to watch instead of believing the media hype and THEN go and watch the film, im sure you will enjoy it a whole lot more. Personally i watch films to get away from real life so for me its spot on, anything on film that remotely resembles being totally accurate and a "real portrayal" doesn't really interest me. I have documentary channels for that!

It was never put forward as historically accurate but it is unbelievably close to the graphic novel and in that the objective has been achieved in my opinion Big Grin
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 5:39 am    Post subject: Re: The movie 300: Save your money.         Reply with quote

David Martin wrote:
Without going into spoilers, my primary gripes were related to historical accuracy, or more appropriately put, the lack thereof.


David,

Here's the thing, this movie makes no attempt to bill itself historically accurate. Its a remake of a graphic novel, not an attempt to tell the real story. I think the movie actually does a very good job of creating the feel of a graphic novel, as its creators intend. I, my family, and a theatre full of people really enjoyed the film, in spite of its historical lapses.

Its a question of expectations I guess. I didn't go to the film for a history lesson. I went for a larger than life graphic story, and that is what I got so I'll probably see it again.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 5:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kev Sutton wrote:
It was never put forward as historically accurate but it is unbelievably close to the graphic novel and in that the objective has been achieved in my opinion Big Grin


I've never seen the graphic novel in question, but I had an idea what to expect from reading others over the years. With that small foundation I was amazed at how much the film felt like a graphic novel. I agree, unbelievably close. The images and camera angles and changes in timing, I felt, captured the feel succinctly. The actors, director, and film crews did some very good work in this one.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 6:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have not seen it yet but probably will. The local movie critic gave it three stars, which is unusual for him.

It is fantasy and not meant to be historically accurate, and probably could not be true to the actual events any way, as they were reported by human beings, who are notoriously inaccurate in recounting events no matter how recently they occurred.

As far as numbers go, the Greeks, who apparently wrote what history there is, were notoriously vague about numbers. If you read the travelogue written by Xenephon, who spent some time in Asia Minor, he and his comrades were always faced with huge hosts of locals and still managed to win out in the end. This occurred in hostile country with greatly extended supply lines. I don't think it was possible for Xerxes to build an army of that size, much less feed, house and control it. The numbers would have been much smaller and that would have dictated a smaller number of Greeks and Spartans to oppose them, if the writer wanted to make it seem that they faced overwhelming odds. That is not to denigrate the bravery and resolution of those on either side. What I am saying is that we need to take these statistics with a large helping of salt. In later times I am reminded of the host raised by Edward II when he met Bruce at Bannockburn. According to the chronicles, Edward's army numbered 100,000 while Bruce led 30,000. A careful study of rent rolls in England concludes that an English army of 30,000 was more reasonable, while Bruce probably mustered in the neighborhood of 7,000. Either way the odds are the same and it was superior tactics and fortitude that won the day.

Go and enjoy the movie for what it is.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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James Barker




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 6:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was a comic book made movie and had nothing to do with real history.

It was a cool action movie.

James Barker
Historic Life http://www.historiclife.com/index.html
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
According to the chronicles, Edward's army numbered 100,000 while Bruce led 30,000. A careful study of rent rolls in England concludes that an English army of 30,000 was more reasonable, while Bruce probably mustered in the neighborhood of 7,000. Either way the odds are the same and it was superior tactics and fortitude that won the day.


3.3 to 1 versus 4.3 to 1. Hmm. Obviously your point is taken, but a job as a bookie would not be the best option Wink

Peter
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Hugh Fuller




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am not going to quibble about the numbers except to say that both the graphic novel AND, apparently, the film ignore the fact that some 700 Thespians stayed with the Spartans at Thermopylae and died with them. Somehow, history has forgotten about them.

As to the film, from what I have read, sone should think of it as a sort of impressionist work, like a nonrepresentational modern art painting or sculpture. It is reputed to be a true sight to behold, as the author John Maddox Roberts described it, "circque de soliel does 'The 300 Spartans.' "

Hugh
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Please see 1 John 1:5
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 7:01 am    Post subject: The 300         Reply with quote

OK I saw it and for what it's worth, I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Basically I liked it. It was very much like a Graphic novel. Of course much of the film was very silly but I was surprised by some aspects of historical ... well if not accuracy at least a nod toward historical origins of the subject matter.

**** MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD.... WARNING!************





















The best thing was that there was some effort to portray how wierd and crazy the Spartans were. They showed you how the Spartan boys were taken away at age 7, and had to fight each other and steal bread etc. There is a scene where a very young leonidas has to fight a quasi-supernatural wolf.

I thought all this stuff was pretty good.

As for the kit and the combat, it's funny, I'm usually one of these guys who is a stickler for historical realism, but actually I suppose internal consistency is actually good enough. This was as people have said very much in the spirit of a graphic novel (I never read the comic book though). Within that context I liked the way the combat looked. There was a bit of phalanx fighting, and the Spartans frequently demonstrated their discipline and ability to fight in formations. The Spartan kit was ok, except for the fact that they fought without cuirasses to show off their beefcake abs. I was glad to see them actually using their spears at least part of the time. They also had swords which were sort of a cross between a falcata and a khopesh, a very brutal and vicious looking weapon somewhat like the orc swords in LOTR. The mixed up sword fighting while silly, was pretty good in the sense that it at least looked different (more brutal) than the standard Hollywood / Hong Kong kung-fu stuff you usually see. Lets say more Stephen Segal than Jackie Chan. The Spartans, while tough as nails, were very mortal and capable of being killed and wounded. I'm not for gratuitous violence and agree there tends to be too much in our media but in this case I thought it was in context. Even some of the Persians (the first waves) were broadly in the realm of historical realism. I saw wicker shields, akinakes swords, and spears. The Immortals who came later were real silly sort of ninjas.

Best of all there were no battalions of catapults firing bathtubs full of napalm across the sky ala Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven.

My only real gripe was that there seemed to be a lot of politics, with contemporary overtones, inserted into the film. The Persians were dehumanized. Their messengers and negotiators were routinely killed or maimed. Xerxes had that wierdly deep yet sort of effeminate voice like the Pharoah-Aliens from Stargate, only more so. The "Immortals" were portrayed as some kind of semi-human creatures, like Orcs. Xerxes had numerous semi-human or demonic characters in his entourage and in his harem - many of the Persians seemed to be wierdly diseased, I guess a hint of their depravity.

The funny part, the Spartans were portrayed as being proudly heterosexual (they mocked the Athenians for being 'boy lovers') democratic freedom fighters fending off the forces of totalitarianism. Xerxes may have been a tyrant but he was no Stalin or Hitler. No hint of the fact that many Greeks fought for and with the Persians. No mention of Spartans hunting Helots for fun, or of Sparta subjugating other Greek cities. The Spartans speech at the end refers to a struggle against, among other things, 'Mysticism' which seems to fly in the face of the whole oracle scene with the Ephors in the beginning. There was just a hint of serious, self-righteous stridency which reminded me of certain recent nasty debates in some HEMA forums about Victor Hansen vs. Jared Diamond. Kind of left a bad taste in my mouth in the sense that it seemed a rather jarring deviation from the whole campy Graphic novel context.

All in all though, for a change I am going to side with the people who said it was only a comic book film and as such, it worked and it was fun to watch.

Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

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Last edited by Jean Henri Chandler on Tue 13 Mar, 2007 7:18 am; edited 3 times in total
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 7:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As strange as it seems to say, I liked the immortals as ninjas. I think it emphasized for the audience that this was a fictional portrayal of cultural struggle between East and West in POP culture terms that were recognizable to a wide audience, without screaming about it. I also thought they were just too damn funny (which was probably not the director's intent).
"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 7:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was just happy to see a depiction of the spear used as a primary weapon. I was thinking, "man, I hope MRL is going to offer those spearheads!". I'd love to get one and mount it in the style of the late 15th c.

It was a perfectly good escapist movie. That's all I required. If I want the actual history I'll read a book.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 7:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
I was just happy to see a depiction of the spear used as a primary weapon. I was thinking, "man, I hope MRL is going to offer those spearheads!". I'd love to get one and mount it in the style of the late 15th c.

It was a perfectly good escapist movie. That's all I required. If I want the actual history I'll read a book.


I think this film is actually a good example of how the introduction of a tiny bit more realism and / or historical material, properly contextualized, actually enhances the quality of the 'escape'.

Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2007 7:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh yeah and another thing: the armor worked! Leonidas helmet saved his life in one critical moment. Finally Hollywood may be grasping the radical notion that armor was more than a costume for bad guys and actually prevented injuries in some cases.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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