Hi! I’m in a good mood today. I just went and saw a cartoon at the movies. Not an actual animated cartoon, but a live action one. Frank Miller’s movie 300 about the Spartans at the battle of Thermopylae.
It's a weird movie. Apparently Spartan men went bare-chested while Spartan women didn’t. And when I say Spartan men went bare-chested, I mean they went bare-chested always, even in the middle of battle, which is a big no-no. Even the most tactically inept person knows it’s not a good idea to go into battle sans clobber, unless your enemy has a pathological fear of nudity. The screen is filled with so much beefcake it made me wish I could take a pill to turn me gay for a couple of hours so I’d enjoy it more. There is a scene which shows King Leonidas having sex with his wife, which I guess is some pathetic attempt to establish that he’s not gay. Let’s just say it’s not successful. A non-gay king would insist his soldiers wear armour.
And damn, but the Spartans were short in that movie. At the start there is a wolf that is much larger than King Leonidas and Emporer Xerces simply towers over him. But that’s what happens when you abuse your children by sending them out to survive in the wilderness as part of the traditional Agoge instead of actually, you know, feeding them and maybe training them in how to survive instead of just expecting them to work it out by themselves. Imagine how tough the Spartans would have been if they'd actually fed their children and hadn’t all been midgets.
In the movie’s first battle I thought we might see a demonstration of what happens when disorganized warriors run up against a disciplined, well drilled army. However, despite King Leonidas giving a lecture to Mickey the Mutant on the art of phalanx fighting earlier on, it turns out that that Spartans aren’t really into forming ranks and holding position, and are actually iron age Jedi and fight best when surrounded by enemies and spinning like violent gyroscopes. After seeing his son killed, one character is described as breaking ranks. What ranks? The Spartans were standing wherever they would look the coolest, not where they had a tactical advantage. And I can only assume that the son who was killed was extremely good at lip-reading because only a severely deaf person would let a galloping horse sneak up on them.
As for historical accuracy, there is none. Basically, if it’s in the movie, it’s wrong. Although I suppose it is remotely possible that Xerces the Great had a goat that could play musical instruments. However, the movie never gives the impression that it’s trying to be historically accurate. It gives the impression that it’s a live action cartoon, which is a good thing, otherwise I’d have to point out how humorous it is to hear the slave owning Spartans saying they are fighting for freedom.
KING LEONIDAS: We are fighting for freedom!
HELOT: Does this mean we are no longer slaves and can now own the fruits of our own labour and no longer have to kiss your arses?
KING LEONIDAS: I’m not talking about that sort of freedom!
But then I suppose freedom might be especially dear to people who can see how poorly they treat their own slaves everyday. And I’d also have to mention that it wasn't really the Spartans but their rivals the Athenians who defeated Xerces, but now I’m just quibbling over minor details. Basically, people who know anything at all about ancient history will realise the movie is not accurate and the people who go into the movie knowing nothing will come out knowing nothing, so no harm done.
So, all up, a bad movie, but an excellent cartoon.