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“this is not a detached dissertation but an exploration of my origins, an indirect attempt at self-definition” —Octavio Paz

Quick thoughts on 300

300 still

I saw 300 for the first time a little while back. My first reaction was, as someone who is usually virulently opposed to movies about war, this is an intoxicating film. I was a wee bit intoxicated at the time, and thus absolutely enthralled by the visuals. Seeing it again a couple days later, I noticed how mediocre the acting is in parts (I particularly enjoyed how Leonitus’ accent comes and goes between Sean Connery and British neutral), but the storyline was great. I remember thinking grand drunken thoughts about how Miller’s stories use violence as an expression of valiant opposition against the injustice of a majority rule, be it the “divine” law of the oracles or simply a man with a gun and a badge. The distinctive visual styles are powerful enactments of this heightening of a specific action for the sake of a point, but they are in service to the heightening of a specific emotional response, not just grotesque and cool for the sake of being grotesque and cool. At the beginning of the movie, I thought this would end up being a jingoistic at worst, patriotic at best, yay for your country movie, but it beat all expectations. Its a great film (with admittedly bad acting in places) because it uses conventional vernacular, recognizable by every fourteen year old boy in America, to portray a very subversive message.

The most intriguing themes I noticed (and, if I’m ever inspired to do so, would like to explore more) were:
a) the implication of freedom as more important than country (e.g. when the queen tells him not to think as a king, but as a free man, prompting his revolt against “the law” [and that nice speech as Leonidas climbs towards and approaches the oracle’s tower about the relation of the king to the law])

b) Xerxes’ equation of the Greeks with reason/Dilios’ speech that targeted “mysticism and tyranny” as their enemies

I’d really like to know Miller’s source texts and influences for this storyline… I also need to get aholt of the graphic novels for both 300 and Sin City.

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Filed under: Analysis, Film

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