What is surprising about “300” is how it seems to be oblivious of the state of affairs in the world today. The US and its allies are in a war on terror where one main battlefront is Iraq.
In the movie, a bunch of white men from Sparta with chiselled bodies wage a war against the ugly, deformed, lusty Persians. In many screenings and reviews, people couldn’t help but draw parallels with the politics of today and the plot of the movie.
Even the characteristics of the leaders of the two warring sides prompt comparisons to be made with US President George W. Bush. The leader of the Spartans is Leonidas, who led just 300 soldiers against an army of thousands of Persians, and the Persian King Xerxes is a megalomaniac who thinks he is god.
The film’s plot revolves around the battle of Thermopylae, which took place around 480 B.C. The valiant Spartan army, under the leadership of Leonadis, fights off an army led by King Xerxes grossly outnumbering them.
The movie is visually stunning. Though set in ancient times, it employs the latest in cinematic technology. It is a blend of live action and computer generated images. It comes from the same team that brought the equally visually impressive movie “Sin City”.
Based on Frank Miller’s graphic comic novel, it is directed by Zack Snyder and written by Miller and Lynn Varley.
The action sequences are well choreographed and the violence is not gross. But for a movie whose main theme seems to be courage and loyalty, it leaves you feeling empty. It has a lot of muscle but no soul. The narrator keeps highlighting the valour of these men, but it doesn’t stir our hearts at all.
Another disturbing aspect of the movie is more underlying. The Spartans who are white are perfect looking specimens while the enemy looks deformed or handicapped. Even the one Spartan who betrays them happens to be a hunchback.
The Persian King Xerxes looks effeminate, and his camp consists of lesbians, even some handicapped lesbians. And the Persian army has soldiers wearing black, some with masks, giants with bad teeth and executioners with claw hands.
It seems that while the filmmakers focused on making pure entertainment, they did not pay attention to some disturbing underpinnings. We are living in an era where the “war on terror”, Islamic fundamentalism and the Iraq war are such sensitive issues.
The movie is obviously is not going to have any negative impact on the “war on terror” as such … but the best way to enjoy this movie is to look at it as pure entertainment with some good action and satisfying visuals.