300 review

:. Director: Zack Snyder
:. Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey
:. Running Time: 1:57
:. Year: 2007
:. Country: USA


300 takes its cue from Frank Miller's graphic novel based on the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans defended themselves against 20,000 Persians in 480 B.C. in a last stand that left them all dead, but as heroes. Historically correct? Doubtful. Bloody and hypermasculine video game with some aesthetically pleasing scenes? Definitely.

The target demographic is males, males, males. From boys sent out into the wilderness to learn how to defend themselves to the shower of arrows during battle, from the Persian strip club scene to the doggy style sex scene King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) shares with his Queen (Lena Headey), the film is all about evoking and provoking the most base instincts with a loud "GRRRRRRR!" And yet it's so highly stylized and at times aesthetically beautiful that it doesn't offend as much as say, a Chuck Norris or Steven Seagall movie. The copper colored look gives it a sepia tone that makes it seem more serious than it is. The oracle the Spartans go to visit prior to going to war is straight out of a Calvin Klein commercial, writhing and wearing a beautiful dress that doesn't quite seem to cover her breasts. Blood in the film looks like red powder and not the spurting, squirting viscous liquid we're accustomed to. The decapitation of a warrior's son during battle looks rather lovely in its depiction, and not grizzly or hideous; The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto were really much bloodier.

What's hilarious though is the homoerotic subcontext almost always present in these hypermacho films. The Spartans prance around with perfect abs (obviously benefiting from special effects as well) and leather bikinis, away from their wives and we're expected to believe nothing happens between them? Come on…Here of course, the Persians are depicted as feminine. As when Persian King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), in full fledged make up and jewelry, asks King Leonidas to bow down to him "on his knees", we know there's going to be a problem…or not.

Local Socal newspapers have covered the reaction of some Iranians, who protest the film as historically inaccurate, showing Persians as millions of pansies unable to defeat 300 beefy Spartans. But there's no need to worry. Judging from the hoots and hollers in the cinema, I would wager that the typical male watching this film doesn't know that the Persia referred to in the film is modern day Iran.

Still, the "you're-either-with-us-or-against-us" war cry of 300 is troubling for anyone who hears echoes with the current administration. When the queen remarks that "Freedom isn't free", I couldn't help but think of the country song spoof "Freedom isn't free" from Team America: World Police, which mocked that exact mentality.

  Anji Milanovic

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