Sunday, March 11, 2007

I haven't seen it yet, but I have opinions anyhow...

So there!

I'm talking about 300 of course.

I hope this means that studios will start to make good movies again. Art for the sake of art rather than art for the sake of a message. There's no message folks. Not a pro-war one. Not an anti-war one. Bush is not involved in any fashion whatsoever. No message. Get it through your heads.

But art. Likely very much so from what I've seen. If when I see it I repent of that opinion, I'll let you know.

So... why do I call a bloodfest art?

I didn't realize at first that this movie is made by the same person who made Sin City. Sin City was art. Very strange. Very visceral. And when people were talking about 300 being a graphic novel, even without knowing, I thought of Sin City.

Graphic novels are incredibly sophisticated visual art. I'm sure the CGI contributes to the unreality of 300, but in the trailers, clips and stills, there is a sense of detatchment and interpretation. The sepia tones and representative figures. If I had an art degree I'd know the words for this stuff. Something more realistic, more bare, would leave less for our brains to do. Our increased participation is part of what defines art.

The movie _Hero_ comes to mind. The feeling of fable comes through strong while the visuals themselves are breathtaking. The plot and characters are secondary to the experience itself.

Art, or a truely skillful novel, does not have a message, but a million of them. Something might not be to an individual's taste, but anyone can find insight in it because it speaks to the reality of human experience rather than the filtered and interpreted version of human experience.

If I'm right, there is not message in 300 but people will find messages there because they participated, and those messages will be as diverse as humanity itself.

That's not, however, counting those who are going to react with a anti-militaristic knee-jerk condemnation.


Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I think there is a message.

Ὦ ξεῖν’, ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
κείμεθα, τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.

Ō xein', angellein Lakedaimoniois hoti tēide
keimetha tois keinōn rhēmasi peithomenoi.

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by,
that here, obedient to their laws, we lie -Steven Pressfield, in Gates of Fire

I mostly agree with this post here.


Regardless of what message Miller might or might not be telling, the message of history is cloud and clear to me.

Sparta was a curious creation. Its name reveberated through the millenia, to become a word used halfway across the world from Greece. They were a sparse and spartan people, these Spartans. Their epitaph at Thermopylaes engendered those qualities well.

The qualities of Greek hoplites, otherwise known as heavy infantry, progressed from the phalanx tradition to the Roman legionary tradition, which itself progressed to a professional legion. In some ways, the core traditions of Athens and Sparta passed onto Rome, and Rome passed it unto Briton, and Briton in turn passed it onto the US and Australia. The US is the only nation to my knowledge that has a Senate. Rome had a senate.

The Arabs are light infantry compared to the US Marine Corps with Interceptor BA and various other protection systems. We fight again it seems. History has a curious ability of repeating itself. And I don't mean in rhymes, but harmonies.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I have a curious suspicion that the anti-military folks are the most violence prone and the ones who would go to this movie expecting to see violence glorified. A secret addiction, perhaps.

But from one review and from my own knowledge of the history, they will be disappointed. A lot of the movie seems to be about political maneuvers and discussions of Greek intransigency, stupidity, treachery, and political machinations.

Obviously the final battle(s) are the capstone, the key stone, but there's a lot of other stuff Miller put up. Some of it he invented. for dramatic tones even.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Heralder said...

I have an art degree, and to an extent I agree with what you said.

I saw, and was enamored with this film. Visually, it's absolutely beautiful, and being a fan of ancient military history, I enjoyed seeing the phalanx in action.

I went not expecting to see a historical epic, or political discourse. I went expecting to see something abstracted (very much so) from history in a artful manner.

For instance, it didn't bother me to see the Spartans had no armor ( they were actually well armored), that the swords they weilded were not indicative of the time, or the various fantastical foes that the Persians threw against the Greeks were rather mythical.

I treated it like a painting. It depicts an event in the eyes of the artist. Fransisco de Goya is a good example. He takes a historical event, like 'The Executions of the Third of May, 1808', (not sure how to insert a link to the painting) and applies different visual effects to portray the scene in more suggestive tones.

David Sylvester aptly explains:

"-the firing-squad, their backs to us, are not men but massive threatening shapes, and the face and pose - the outflung arms - of the next victim precisely echo the face and pose of the child nearest the apparition. (in reference to another painting)"

The message I gleaned from 300 was not a political one, it wasn't even an artistic one.
Simply, it was representation of history, a triumph of will over numbers.
It was a positive turn to a people (the Spartans) that practiced eugenics as a foundation of thier society.

An apt (yet unused in the film) quote is:

"The Spartans ask not how many, but where they are."

11:29 AM  
Blogger Synova said...

"The Spartans ask not how many, but where they are."

Oh, I do like that!

And I still haven't managed to get to town to see it. *sigh*

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Heralder said...

I'd be interested to hear your review once you have, Synova.

I want to go see it again actually.

7:04 AM  

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