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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

movie 300 vs lord of the rings : A comparison

Without “The Lord of the Rings,” there would be no “300,” the action movie based, in part, on Herodotus’ version of the Battle of Thermopylae, as refracted through a cultic graphic novel.
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Many of the LOTR elements are repeated: A small, hardy band of heroes (300 Spartans) faces down seething hordes of barbarians, who include monsters and enormous beasts of war; Enya-esque music; lots of hand-to-hand combat (splatter variety here); gorgeous, painterly use of CG technology; a script aimed at preteen boys but (just) literary enough to retain the interest of adults.

While “300” never rises to the grand themes of LOTR, it’s far superior to “Troy,” in part because the narrative focus is tighter and the writers don’t take pointless liberties with the history, or, at least they do so on an imaginative level, not altering motivations or roles.

Another LOTR parallel — more disturbing — is the explicit depiction of Westerners as threatened by the tyrannical, degenerate powers of the East, here in highly theatricalized versions of heavily pierced, masked or shrouded Asians and Africans. Adding fuel to contemporary cultural flames? Uh, yes.

Especially since the movie celebrates an undilutedly fascist fealty to power, blood and nation. “We are Spartans!” is the only excuse the characters need for their actions. And a culture that hands its young over to a brutalizing government at an early age can hardly call itself the hallmark of freedom.

Borrowing a phrase from Zbig Brzezinski, who appeared the other night on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” it speaks to “Manichaean paranoia,” or an extreme case of Us vs. Them.





So in short, Lord of the rings is the better one.


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5 Comments:

At 6:57 PM, Anonymous stephen said...

I watched 300 this weekend. I sit in front of this desk, trying to find how best to describe this movie and all I can come up with is "Lord of the Rings meets Sin City."
This movie is… beautiful. And gory, blood splattered and way too boob-explicit and the screenplay could have used a touchup or two on dialogue and general plot, but you can't deny: it looks awesome!

The story is this: it's ancient times, and Sparta is the most badass city-state of all Greece.

This is because of the expectations they have on themselves… Spartans are all about excellence.

Each baby is inspected at birth for defects of any kind, and if any are found the baby is "disposed," and I bet you can imagine what that means.

If one passes that test, it's all training and desensitization to violence and becoming as hard as possible from then on.

King Leonidis (the excellent Gerard Butler) is the current ruler of Sparta, as hard a man as any but with obvious soft spots toward his wife (Lena Headey) and son, a child version of himself; when a Persian messenger insults his wife, the king, well, kills him.

Which is a little reckless… the Persian leader Xerxes has decided to occupy Sparta.

The king takes 300 of his best warriors to the coastline as Persian ships appear, carrying over a million soldiers, to try to stop them.

Yes, that's 300 vs. over 1,000,000. (This is, of course, based on a true story; it was 480 BC, and it was called the Battle of Thermopylae.)

That's it for the plot, basically. And that's a problem with the movie; the screenplay is bland.

The dialogue could have used a lot of work, and most of the characters are unpredictable in a bad way; you expect development and twists and turns that just don't happen. Such as Xerxes; you expect a lot more from him than you get.

But honestly, who's going to see 300 for the plot?

 
At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Niggle said...

'Who's going to tell about 300 men versus 10,000 when it can be 300 versus a million with fantastic war beasts and deamons? Certainly not the Greeks.'
Well actually the Ancient Greek historians Herodotus aka 'The Father of History'(Histories 7.138-239)and Diodorus (Bibliotheke books 11-16)tried to give factual accounts of the battle which give us our main sources of information on it. These accounts inspired the the 1962 film The 300 Hundred Spartans which in turn inspired Frank Miller who may have then cherry picked from Greek myth/Homer too.
Classical Greek literature cannot be described as the foundation of 'modern literature in the style of oral poetry' whatever that means(oral tradition happened all over the world before writing became available and so it is thought there wasn't one bloke called Homer who made the whole of The Odyssey and Iliad up) but Classical Greek literature is the foundation for much of modern Western literature, for example drama. Therefore describing it as 'slightly over the top' somewhat undermines it. If you want OTT read Latin tragedy.

 
At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there's a huge question marks surrounding the validity of Herodutus accounts of the events though. Yes 'modern literature in the style of oral poetry' is a horrendous abomination on the english language but 'Classical Greek literature is the foundation for much of modern Western literature' is pretty much what a I meant :p. I think I was trying to draw reference to the way that stories used to be told and that's what I like about 300 and the use of Dilios as narrator.

 
At 7:05 PM, Anonymous tom said...

Did you complain that Lord of The Rings has strange people with pointy ears in it? No. This is not a historical drama but based on a graphic novel so I think they're allowed to add trolls. And by the way, if you'd ever read any ancient greek literature then you'd realise they weren't exactly beyond inserting the odd cyclops when needed. Hell, even H)erodotus wrote about giant gold digging ants.

As for colour, I think it's what might be known as style. The sepia (beige? please.) tones work well, keeping the colours muted and allows them to bring out the reds in the picture. And you might want to take a dictionary and look up hirsute as it doesn't mean what you think it means.
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At 2:35 AM, Blogger Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

 

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