Ahmadinejad gets one right

Well, it’s Shamqadri, but since he’s currently the Mouth of Sauron, who’s to quibble?

300 does indeed insult Persian civilisation.

It’s meant to, as the entire thing revolves around a story told at Plataea. That may confuse movie-goers who have never heard of said battle, but it’s absolutely 100% in context. The movie is, intentionally, Spartan war propaganda.

Does it take liberties with history? Tons. For starters, I wanted to see the Apple Bearers. I mean, seriously: anybody who extinguishes Babylonian civilization can’t be all that bad, right? Having the Immortals look like bad kung-fu ninja demons out of a comic book, was kind of like watching a movie based on a comic book.

Which is, in fact, what 300 is. So, all in all, I guess my only REAL problem is that they break formation too goddamned much (though, happily, they DO kill off a guy for being lax in obeying orders)…. not that they take liberties with history. For example, the dweeb up in Canada who doesn’t like the movie, yet opens his critique with

History is altered all the time. What matters is how and why.

thus declaring that although he is a Hellenist, he’s primarily a post-modern historian (and boring as all crap, too: his writing screams “look at me, I know jargon!”), and therefore utterly lacking in anything resembling detachment, even if he, too, thinks they break ranks too goddamned much. Which is a pity, because all of his historical critiques are spot, and let me emphasize this, spot-fucking-on, and worth checking out.

So, let me put it this way: if you’re not stupid enough to expect history from Hollywood, and want a simple story where the good guys are good and the bad guys are freaks, in which there’s a ton of bloodshed, it’s a better movie choice than the most of the usual fare.
–Posting will be slow over the weekend, as tomorrow morning I am taking the Bunnywife on a “get me out of this town before I explode” emergency vacation.

Leave a comment


  1. Happycrow! John and I were watching the trailers just this morning and we were laughing about how Bunny would not even be able to watch this one. We weren’t sure if you could or not, but I reminded him that you DO grok the whole graphic novel thing, so maybe the historical liberties would not throw you off of the movie entirely.

  2. Anna

     /  March 14, 2007

    “or that Athenians would soon save all of Greece by destroying the Persian fleet at Salamis”
    Actually, that’s inaccurate. IF the Spartans did not hold off the land forces, Athens would not have been able to evacuate and thus even if they’d won at Salamis (which in the light of a swiftly approaching Persian land force coordinating precisely with their sea fleet is a bit doubtful), they’d only been able to return to utter ruin, sack and despair. Athens would have never been the same. And he forgets about Plataea very conveniently.

    I chuckled about the Athenian boy-lovers remark in the movie, though, given that ‘Spartacizing’ a young male was a byword in Greek theatrical language…

  3. Anna

     /  March 14, 2007

    @ James-you kidding? This is a good one. Try me at Kingdom of Heaven, though, and you can witness real foaming academic in action. I LIKE this one (chalk some of it up to the abundant sixpacks, though)…:-)

  4. Zathras

     /  March 14, 2007

    Despite all his brayings, Ahmadinejad himself makes the movie look more believable, since he has made himself as much a caricature as any Persian in the movie.

  5. Well, I was thinking of “Kingdom of Heaven” when we were talking actually…or, what was that old Sean Connery movie, “Arthur?”

    I have always been a Frank MIller fan, but I would not necessarily use him as a textbook for a history class. But, if the Persians had seen Miller’s version of the Immortals, they may have immediately consulted their tailors. The metal mask thing beats the heck out of the old burkha look IMHO.

  6. happycrow

     /  March 14, 2007

    Yeah, but that Persian soldier getup is smashing in the color category. I’d wear it. And it’s practical as all hell marching across the desert.

    Only one Saka, though. Otoh, Ephialtes got a Saka hat, so I guess that’s okay.

    I’m *told* that the director’s cut of KoH is a *vastly* better movie, b/c Hollywood really took an axe to the ideas that Scott was trying to develop.

    Let’s leave out First Knight, though. What a waste: I could have spent that time better scrubbing toilets with my eyelashes.

  7. If only he hadn’t lashed the Hellespont..

  8. Anna

     /  March 14, 2007

    It’s hard to grow up in Daddy’s footsteps, in Xerxes’s case. Darius was one mean Persian.

  9. Mike

     /  March 14, 2007

    Bleah, Xerxes’s should have tried go invade India. Although his son got Greece back by backing Sparta in the Pellopanesian War later on, and by smart use of money keep Greece divided and weak.

    Until some crazy Macadonian named Alexander said “Nice Empire, I’ll take it”.

  10. happycrow

     /  March 14, 2007

    His dad tried. Got the Punjab, was enough; some pesky mountains were in the way or something. The Ionian city states were deemed to be more important on the long run for the Achaemenids.

  11. Anna

     /  March 14, 2007

    Sorry, that was me, not Russ. Cookies…

  12. Mike

     /  March 14, 2007

    Excuses, excuses (for Xerxes I mean, not you). The timeliness of this article is really ironic, we are studying the Western Way of War, Greeks through the Byzantines right now. The historic inaccuracy of the film “300” is enough to make me ill right now. And I have just seen the commercials for crying out loud. Awesome stuff, this master’s degree (except the papers, I hate writing). I can now spot an historic inaccuracy at 100 meters and historic BS at 300. My next superpower will be “ability to speed-write a Chicago Style format paper in less than 4 hours (minor)”. The “minor” means it only works for papers of 2500 words or less. I am saving points after that for the “ability of legend” power, which covers papers of any size.

    But anyway, I never thought I would agree with that nutjob in Iran about anything, but here we are. What a world.

  13. Mike

     /  March 14, 2007

    I basically hold that Hollywood gave up on trying to be accurate in a historical sense after “Tora, Tora, Tora”. I think they just said “damn, we can’t top that so lets just go for cash”. Although they have occassional got one right (Flags of our Fathers did pretty good) I think it is more accidental than on purpose.

  14. Anna

     /  March 14, 2007

    Ah, but Mike, you mistake this to a movie like, say Braveheart or Alexander. This is a movie made out of a comic book based on a secondary source of an event…they never claimed it was anything historical. Plus, if you watch it, you’ll realize that it is actually framed by the only surviving Spartan’s retelling of the story to the army of Sparta before the Battle of Plataea. It is like crossing the Greek myths of the deeds of Heracles with some red figure vase painting and the dramas of Sophocles. Try it on. You will like it.

  15. Russ

     /  March 14, 2007

    Now you know why we cry at movies… ;p

    It’s even worse than Anna suggests. This is (brace for impact) a Spartan screening, via oration, of their version of Aleksander Nevskiy. And the dude tells it like that b/c he’s about to get his butt pimpslapped for excessive bravery, and he wants everybody else to go in with him…

  16. Mike

     /  March 15, 2007

    Thanks for the warning. Don’t worry I wasn’t expecting a great deal of accuracy. I will just go for the catchy soundtrack.

  17. The fighting’s good. Lots of beheadings. 🙂

  18. Mike

     /  March 17, 2007

    Interesting. Especially when you realize that the main Greek weapon was a spear…

  19. Jim

     /  March 18, 2007

    I knew I could find out from you if this movie/graphic novel was “historicaly accurate”…I didn’t think it was, but I loved it! all it’s really saying is “Spartans are the badasses of the ancient world!”

  20. Anna

     /  March 19, 2007

    NO, it was not accurate as telling how the events/figures really were but it was spot on about how the Spartans throught about the event itself. 🙂

  21. Anna

     /  March 19, 2007

    And now if I could only learn how to spell English correctly, I might get a raise…

  22. Mike

     /  March 19, 2007

    Agreed with Anna on the “thought” process of Sparta. To say that they were highly motivated is a slight understatement. We just got done discussing how the Western Way of Warfare theory somewhat counterdicts itself in this case as Tenant 1 is that “western nations will do anything to win”, which is contradicted by the Greeks who as a whole didn’t believe in missile weapons due to them being “not manly enough”. They were into the “heavy infantry SMASH” theory of war.

    Eh, it worked, so what can you say?


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