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The Reeler Blog

300 Has No Political Message. So What is the Message?

I won't be checking out the Zack Snyder/Frank Miller graphic novel adaptation 300 until this evening, so I pass this along without any first-hand knowledge of the references at hand -- and with the biggest eye-roll I can summon this early in the week.

Evidently there is an entire issue-wonk subculture trying to pin contemporary politics on the film's depiction of the battle of Thermopylae, the Persian/Spartan clash of roughly 2,500 years ago. According to The NYT's Michael Cieply:

When a Feb. 22 report on carried a brief mention of the question about Mr. Bush’s proper parallel in the film, Web commentators in the United States began to lock on its supposed political vibe. ...

Mr. Snyder and his collaborators expanded the presence of Gorgo, the Spartan queen and Leonidas’s wife, including, among other things, a sequence in which she inspires a wavering populace and weak-willed council to resist the Eastern armies even at the cost of battle deaths. “Her story is that she is trying to rally the troops,” said [executive producer Deborah] Snyder, who dismissed as irrelevant a question about her and her husband’s personal political philosophies.

Mr. Snyder acknowledged that Mr. Miller -- who declined to be interviewed for this article -- had opened the door for contemporary comparisons with his passionate, if not entirely accurate, portrayal of the ancient Spartans as saviors of Western civilization. “He’d be on their side regardless of who they were fighting, because he just loves them,” Mr. Snyder said.

Indeed, as Miller this week tells New York Magazine's Dave Itzkoff, the story has been among the writer/illustrator/filmmaker's favorites since he was 5 years old. But really, though: There must be some political allusion here, right, Frank? Right?

[C]ould America be seen as a modern-day Sparta?

Certainly, but we’ve also got a lot more bombs. I think there’s no denying that the same ideas are at stake, just that the odds are very, very different. [And] I don’t think anyone would mistake my Xerxes for Osama bin Laden.

But couldn’t a story like this have its message co-opted by a pro-war audience?

Sure, but I see a lot of that on both sides of the political front these days -- taking whatever facts are out there and screwing up the language to make it fit a preconceived notion. Michael Moore referring to people who chop people’s heads off as “minutemen.” It gets pretty sick.

Jesus Christ. The only thing missing in the whole allegory is a press corps grilling all the wrong people about the right issues.

Posted at March 5, 2007 9:46 AM

Comments (10)

Why has no one mentioned this is a remake of Richard Eagan in "The 300 Spartans"??? back in 1962...just more computer technology. They even say a line directly from the movie about "fighting in the shade". Instead they tout that this is a Frank Miller "creation".

It's not exactly a "Remake." The story has been out there for a couple thousand years. Frank Miller's "Creation" is the stylized visual feel of the film, as well as some fantastic touches, such as the giants and monsters that appear in the film. Any book or film that carries the story past the retreat of the other Hellenic forces (Yes, there were other guys on the Greek side at Thermopyle) is inherently fiction, because no one lived to tell the tale. Oh, and the line about fighting in the shade... according to Heredotus it was spoken by the Spartan Dienekes when a Persian boasted that his army's arrows would block out the sun. It's not original to the 1962 film.

Being Greek I take it as an insult to even think of comparing Bush as being Leonidas. After all, Leonidas fought and died in his own country not in Persia, like the poor American boys drop one after the other on the other side of the globe.

Once again we see the liberal media attempting to
put a political spin on an
entertainment issue. Using
the current analogy, I guess
Rudy Mate' predicted todays
Iran/Iraq issues when he
wrote, produced & directed
the original 300 Spartans
waay back in 1962. Next the
liberals will accuse Charles Martel of anti Islamic feelings when he routed the Moorish armies
that invaded France from Spain back in the 8th century. Perhaps the liberals should ask Spain to apologize to Islam for El Cid driving invading Islamic forces back to North Africa in the Middle
Ages. 300 is just a movie
telling an ancient story. Of
course Mr Miller has his own view & vision of how this incident took place.
And thats all hes doing, telling a story for entertainment purposes. So get
over it people & keep repeating...Its only a movie, its only a movie.

Funny that they fail to mention that the "300" were reputed to be very-close, very disciplined, homosexual, soldiers.

guess that shows you that sexual preference plays absolutely no part in whether you can seriously kick @ss or not.

No one seems to have mentioned that this movie is a remake of a movie made in 1961.

The name of that movie was "The 300 Spartans".

In fact the line in the new movie "We will blot out the sun with our arrows" and the "response, "Then we will fight in the shade" is in the old movie!

I'm a conservative..and "The 300 Spartans" was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I bought it recently on DVD. It's message, 300 men defendng freedom and western civilization from barbarians, makes its current relevance obvious.

Bush is Leonidas, defending civilization, even when he is abandoned by the fools and cowards among his own people.

Read the Book of Daniel, that is where the story is. Chapters 10 & 11. There is nothing new under the sun...

it"s a movie, THAT'S ALL FOLKS.


"Once again we see the liberal media attempting to
put a political spin on an
entertainment issue."

Once again here comes the people that blame the "liberal" media. Please read the comments made by a self proclaimed conservative three post below your own. Here is a qoute:

"Bush is Leonidas, defending civilization, even when he is abandoned by the fools and cowards among his own people."

Yah, that seems like the "liberal" media.

Please get a clue and stop repeating the worn out conservative talking point where you blame some ficticous "liberal" media.

The fact that media has a political message is just that, a fact. That doesn't mean that Mr. Snider intended anything menevolent, though. However, it's difficult to ignore that, as an election is gearing up, a movie about a weak-willed, corrupt and foolish senate that seeks peace is pitted against a man willing to fight an illegal war to protect his people and who is glorified for such. This isn't a one-to-one metaphor or a manipulation of an ancient story for modern purposes. Still, though, the ramifications of this movie's portrayals of peacemakers and warmongers shouldn't be ignored. It's a really good movie, but it's timing seems to be a little political. But then again, everything we hear, read and say in the public sphere tends to be political so, nothing new.

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