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If It's Good Enough For Will...

CLAIMER: In this post, I am a cussed bastard who elevates personal taste to objective truth. Keep that in mind when you feel your hackles raising or your gorge rising while reading.

You know, I was never much interested in going to see 300. Mainly it was because Sin City, when I finally saw it, didn't really do it for me. It's pretty much like Pulp Fiction was for me back in the mid-nineties; all the cool kids were talking about it and how brilliant it was, but when I finally got around to seeing it - well, I just couldn't see why such a big fuss was being made. I mean, it was sort of interesting, sure, and I liked the chopping-and-changing narrative, but when I saw all the bits everyone dubbed hilarious and/or shining examples of Quentin Tarantino's cinematic genius, I just went "Er... huh?"

Same with Sin City. The only Frank Miller work I know I've read is The Dark Knight Returns, which is pretty damned good, and I like Robert Rodriguez' Mariachi trilogy. But after seeing the film, I know know I'm pretty uninterested in reading any of the Sin City books. I didn't mind the camera style so much, but most of the rest of it was just so damned OTT that I didn't really enjoy it. Bruce's voice over was devoid of emotion, I wished Dwight would quit harping on about his valkyrie, and although the women were gorgeous I figured it'd be nice if some of them stopped sneering and left their clothes on (come to think of it, one did: Jessica Alba). I liked Mickey Rourke as Marv, but that was about it. (No, From Dusk 'Til Dawn didn't really do it for me either.)

So I wasn't really much interested in 300; it seemed like more of the same, just with more of a sword-and-sandal focus. I dunno, maybe people who enjoy the Conan stories would get quite a bit out of it (and I'm pretty sure I know someone who does and who did) but I figured I'd just want those two hours back, thank you. On top of that, there was the issue of historical accuracy. Back then, it was another bee in my already buzzing bonnet. At the time, Steve Darlington had a few things to say about the subject, and I tended to agree: Sure, what the Spartans did on the field of battle was amazing, but in order to do it, they made for themselves a very unpleasant society. Now, they're conveniently the heroes and the real "good guys" from back then are the evil, misshapen villains?

Steve realised that it wasn't really a big deal (and if it were for me, how come I think A Knight's Tale is the fucking awesome?), but it still bothered me for a while, until I realised that the real life Macbeth of Scotland was, in fact, not a wife-appeasing, father-figure-and-best-friend-murdering, bloodthirsty bastard. Even so, That Scottish Play is regarded as one of the best works of a true genius of telling the human story through entertainment, who had his own, bloody, gory, crowd-pleasing moments too (I remember one literary journalist comparing Titus Andronicus to Tarantino's work when the movie Titus came out).

So if William Shakespeare could get away with bending (even mutilating) history in the name of crafting a compelling, quality story, why the hell can't Frank Miller, or Brian Helgeland, or (gasp) Michael Bay? Even though the middle one's probably the only one who succeeded in the "compelling" and "quality" departments.

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I'm going to assume you're talking about me and yes, yes I did. Infact I have the DVD within arm's reach as I type. :)

Yes, history was severely mauled but I knew that going in. Besides, it wasn't a historical film as such, it was more Dilios telling the story (However amped up) to the troops at Platea to get them revved up. As much as I like historical accuracy (Seeing Xena on Sci Fi has nearly made my head explode numerous times) most times I'm able to happily ignore and watch people try to beat the shit out of each other. Well, so long as I can turn my brain off quickly enough. :)

(And if you want to read something more acuccurate on Thermopylae and Spartan culture get 'Gates of Fire' by Steven Pressfield - I can't recommend it enough.)

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