300 (Zack Snyder, 2007)

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#151 Post by Nothing » Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:25 am

toiletduck! wrote:I fail to see how anyone could turn this film into an allegory, intended or not, for the war in Iraq or Middle Eastern occupation at all.
It is the story of a leader (king/president) forced to go it alone when the cowardly / trecherous politicians behind him do not take the threat to their country seriously enough or let their self interest get in the way.

This has a clear parallel to both the current situation in Iraq, with Bush's desire to commit more troops being opposed by the Democrats, and, potentially, to the situation in Iran in the future, if America is forced to go it alone by the international community. Further, it is precisely these elements of the story (the political macinations behind the scenes) which have been expanded in the translation from page to screen!
toiletduck! wrote:Strictly speaking, the 300 Spartans are caught up in an act of self-defense
As are the American people, if you subscribe to the neo-con point of view - under attack from wave upon wave of evil terrorist scum, caught in the nick of time by Jack Bauer and his secret CIA torture chamber.

Essentially, the film is a rallying call to stand behind your country, to take the initiative and to earn your freedom by fighting and dying if necessary. If I didn't know better, I'd suspect that conscription was just around the corner....

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#152 Post by toiletduck! » Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:52 am

What I mean to say is that I can see the connections that you are making and how you are making them, but I fail to see how they are "clear parallels". I think the left is taking a questionable portrayal of people of Middle Eastern descent (which is, granted, a hot button issue), and using it as a leaping pad for numerous questionable assumptions.

If the Persians in 300 were not Persians, but simply another group of white boys, I strongly believe that the film would be decried as anti-Bush by the right, with unfounded claims that Xerxes is obviously a "clear parallel" to our Commander in Chief.

All I'm saying is that the plot itself is standard fare that can be easily applied to any situation, and, while admittedly foolish, the racial portrayals in the film are not nearly as rooted in the story arc as politicos would have me believe.

-Toilet Dcuk

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#153 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 1:15 pm

toiletduck! wrote:There was a point where I became third-person aware of just how long I had been watching viscous battle on the same small plot of land, but at no point did I check out saying, "Alright, that's it, enough blood for me."
That sounds similar to the way I felt during the final battle in Zion in The Matrix Revolutions. At one point I suddenly became very aware I'd been watching things being shot and blown up for ten minutes. It wasn't exactly a feeling of being annoyed by how long it was going on (it was better than sitting through some of the more boring Zion scenes, and especially the rave!), but of wondering how long it was going to last before the film got back to some semblance of a plot. Strangely I didn't remember feeling this way before in other films that have extended battles in them, such as Zulu or in some of John Ford's films where during the action the individual stories continue or climax. It felt sometimes during the Matrix sequels that the plot stopped and the action sequence started, went on as long as it lasted (could be a minute, could be fifteen), then the action sequence stopped and we got scenes explaining just what the action sequence meant to the plot.

Is it because of a lack of characters the audience is caring for, a prior knowledge of how the situation will turn out that renders the action redundant and overblown in its spectacle or the stylisation that prevents or even encourages a lack of empathy?

I've got some sympathy with toiletduck's points about it not being explicitly linked to current events in Iraq too, although I think things are somewhat more complex than just being a debate between current world events having no impact, and current events being all a film is about. I think it is important to wonder about how a particular film, in such a difficult industry to get from initial idea to finished film in a process that can take many years, manages to get made and released and what messages in the film might have resonated to the filmmakers, the studios who financed it, the audience that it is targeted at etc. I think it is only natural that people relate a film released at a certain time to events going on in the world at the same time, and it is often those that seem to embody attitudes and events in a more metaphoric way, or say more than we might imagine the filmmakers had intended to say, that stick in peoples minds over films with a couple of references to Vietnam or with throwaway lines of dialogue like "those damn hippies having a love-in over at the Capital" that seem put there at the last minute by filmmakers or studios wanting to shoehorn a reference to current events into their movie to 'get in with the cool kids, daddy-o'!

And once an audience gets its hands on a film, or any piece of art, all sorts of personal connections can be made and that makes individual reactions to films so diverse and often very interesting to hear about (even if we've been joking about some posts on some message boards recently!)

But there is also the idea that 300 only came along through artistic evolution and the success of Sin City sparking interest in doing adaptations of Frank Miller's other works.

At the same time, there will always be films made that celebrate the bonding of men through violence, such as all the muscled action men during the 80s. There is also the idea of the Middle Eastern villain coming to prominence through those films as the 'Russian threat' fell off, such as the transition with Schwarzenegger from playing a 'good Russian' and helping an audience get used to having a Russian character as a hero in Red Heat (with that strange offhand remark early on from one of his Russian colleagues that he'd noticed Schwarzenegger was circumcised and that there was no need to worry, he was too, that simultaneously if crudely hits both its targets. It lets an American audience learn to think of a Russian as the goodie because, "hey, he's like us!", and it hits the 'guys comparing their 'guns' and killing people because they can't have sex with them' metaphor of the action genre!), to introducing Art Malik in True Lies that helped to usher in a new era of Middle Eastern terrorists in action films.

The 80s action man films, along with Mad Max and Lethal Weapon, could be seen both as an expression of Reagan-era individualism and as just the next wave of action film to show guys beating each other to a pulp so the audience doesn't need to go out on the streets and do it (or, on the other hand, so they can get drunk and go out and practice the new fight moves on their friends!)

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#154 Post by Barmy » Fri Mar 23, 2007 4:45 pm


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#155 Post by Nothing » Sat Mar 24, 2007 4:35 am

But they are Persian... :roll:

1+1=2

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#156 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:07 pm

Nothing wrote:But they are Persian... :roll:

1+1=2
Well, gee, it's not like you can depict Thermopylae without them.

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#157 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Mar 26, 2007 10:11 pm

I saw 300 tonight and in honor of the film, I will present my thoughts in the faux iambic pentameter of the film:

In darkness of the theater
Moving away from a patron smelling of urine
I instead watched a film reeking of testosterone
In which everything
From dialogue to (unnecessary) voiceover to nudity
Was over the top
To be sure Snyder knows how to film action scenes
But I could not emotionally connect to anything
On the screen
Even with Sin City I was at least invested
In the stories
But I could not help but giggle
At the closing shot of King Leonidas (no spoilers)
In which Snyder seems to be
Unaware
Of what the Spartans were fighting for
In the first place

P.S.
I don't think Snyder
Is prescient enough
To make this film any kind
Of political statement

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#158 Post by Antoine Doinel » Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:59 pm

I guess it was inevitable that a video game deal is in the works.

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#159 Post by Len » Sun Apr 01, 2007 5:42 am

Watching two hours of watching someone else play an X360 videogame on the silver screen is not my idea of a good film. CGI gore and violence never ever looks good.

300 was quite horrible.

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#160 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:29 pm


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#161 Post by Barmy » Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:12 am

What a silly, dumb film. I went to see this primarily because it was showing on IMAX. Sin City was good because it had some interesting dialogue and some great actors. This has neither. Plus it looks cheap. The audience chattered and laughed throughout, particularly whenever Queen Dildo showed up. The "sex" scene in particular drew howls.

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#162 Post by John Cope » Tue May 01, 2007 6:27 pm

Though I hate to do anything to bump this topic I just had to post a link to Steven Shaviro's discussion of Slavoj Zizek's 300 review.

It's a great, insightful commentary and well worth reading. FWIW, I admire both Zizek and Shaviro so it would normally be hard for me to pick a side in this debate but 300 is so aggressively off putting for so many reasons that I have less patience than usual for apologists. Still, Zizek does make some good points even if he often has the pall of an Armondian contrarian.

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#163 Post by Oedipax » Tue May 01, 2007 9:41 pm

I appreciate Shaviro's wider critique of Zizek, but in this particular instance I don't think Zizek is just being contrarian for the sake of it. I had basically the same political reading of 300 - although, honestly, both sides represented in the film have elements of each contemporary American political party (very loosely), so it's kind of a wash. This episode has rubbed me the wrong way because I don't think Zizek is coming from left field in this instance at all, but there's an assumption being made by people, a reflexive rolling of eyes, precisely because he's the one saying it. Shaviro really ought to at least see the film before he makes a fuss over Zizek's reading. I mean, can you imagine George W. Bush charging into battle alongside his men? Isn't that something more along the lines of a figure like Bin Laden and other extremists? And when was the last time the United States was a military underdog?

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#164 Post by toiletduck! » Wed May 02, 2007 10:08 am

I hadn't seen the Zizek review -- thanks for that. I feel like much less of an outsider on the whole Xerxes/America connexion now. (With appreciation, of course, to your reading of that as well, Oedipax.)

Not that it makes the film itself any better, but you win some, you lose some. At least we got a fascinating sociological study out of 300.

-Toilet Dcuk

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#165 Post by Antoine Doinel » Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:16 pm


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#166 Post by lord_clyde » Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:28 am

Barmy wrote:What a silly, dumb film. I went to see this primarily because it was showing on IMAX. Sin City was good because it had some interesting dialogue and some great actors. This has neither. Plus it looks cheap. The audience chattered and laughed throughout, particularly whenever Queen Dildo showed up. The "sex" scene in particular drew howls.
First time I have ever envied your audience experience, as my audience was thrilled to the point of ejaculation over 'THIS IS SPARTA!' and 'TONIGHT WE DINE IN HELL!' I was actually afraid to boo the screen for fear of being stoned by semen filled beer bottles.

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#167 Post by domino harvey » Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:33 pm

I've had this come up a lot lately. I cannot believe this film is still retaining an audience with college students who should know better. I don't mind someone liking the film but you should not be allowed into film studies courses (and possibly college) if you consider this the best film ever made. There should be a little box you check on the application and if it's filled in, they just toss your app into the trash.

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#168 Post by jbeall » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:03 am

domino harvey wrote:I've had this come up a lot lately. I cannot believe this film is still retaining an audience with college students who should know better. I don't mind someone liking the film but you should not be allowed into film studies courses (and possibly college) if you consider this the best film ever made. There should be a little box you check on the application and if it's filled in, they just toss your app into the trash.
Since when should college students know better? I think you're giving the average college student too much credit!

There was a poster sale in the plaza outside the Rutgers student center a few months back, and the 300 poster (featuring a rabid-looking Leonidas and the words "Tonight we dine in HELL!!!!" was the big seller.

Meanwhile I showed Rashomon to a class at the end of January, and everybody thought the movie was "stupid, with terrible acting."

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#169 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:11 am

jbeall wrote:Since when should college students know better? I think you're giving the average college student too much credit!

There was a poster sale in the plaza outside the Rutgers student center a few months back, and the 300 poster (featuring a rabid-looking Leonidas and the words "Tonight we dine in HELL!!!!" was the big seller.
So at least one good thing comes of that film someone has got to put that up in front of the entrance to their college cafeteria!

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