Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Historical Fantasy

Jim Treacher has a post on negative reviews of the film 300. Link via Emperor Misha300, where I threw in this comment:

Some people object to the way the Persians are portrayed:

Note the ethnicity of the overwhelming majority of the signatories. DO NOT confuse these people with the Iranian mullahs and their apologists. Most of them are in the West because they're running away from the theocracy. (Thus most of them consider Jimmy Carter an enemy for what he did to the Shah.)

[Note: I learned of the petition from a Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi email. She is definitely not an apologist for the mullahs.]

This film represents an art form that's fairly new to human history, and possibly a first: taking a real-life event and creating a pure fantasy that really has nothing to do with (in this case) the real Spartans or the real Persians. It's just like doing film adaptations that don't stay true to the book. Most people expect historical films to be about history, and when such a film paints one side as demons, such get the impression that the film is intentionally badmouthing the historical figures that inspired the film. Agree to disagree with the signatories of the petition, and if you ever meet one invite him or her over to play with your Jimmy Carter dart board.

Some people are mistaking the characters for real-life personages, but not who you might think::

Three weeks ago a handful of reporters at an international press junket here for the Warner Brothers movie “300,” about the battle of Thermopylae some 2,500 years ago, cornered the director Zack Snyder with an unanticipated question.

"Is George Bush Leonidas or Xerxes?" one of them asked.

The questioner, by Mr. Snyder's recollection, insisted that Mr. Bush was Xerxes, the Persian emperor who led his force against Greek's city states in 480 B.C., unleashing an army on a small country guarded by fanatical guerilla fighters so he could finish a job his father had left undone. More likely, another reporter chimed in, Mr. Bush was Leonidas, the Spartan king who would defend freedom at any cost.

Mr. Snyder, who said he intended neither analogy when he set out to adapt the graphic novel created by Frank Miller with Lynn Varley in 1998, suddenly knew he had the contemporary version of a water-cooler movie on his hands. And it has turned out to be one that could be construed as a thinly veiled polemic against the Bush administration, or be seen by others as slyly supporting it.

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