"Thermopylae is a wedge issue!"

To Do this weekend: See 300, the surprise blockbuster about the battle of Thermopylae based on a graphic novel of the same name. Neal Stephenson, author of Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and The Baroque Cycle trilogy, reviewed the movie last week in The New York Times under the outstanding headline "It's All Geek to Me." The film has gotten a lot of attention as a possible metaphor for the War on Terror (white guys hold out against onslaught of brown guys), or a meditation on gays in the military (both armies are scantily clad), or something else controversial:

Thermopylae is a wedge issue!

Lefties can’t abide lionizing a bunch of militaristic slave-owners (even if they did happen to be long-haired supporters of women’s rights). So you might think that righties would love the film. But they’re nervous that Emperor Xerxes of Persia, not the freedom-loving Leonidas, might be George Bush.

Our so-called conservatives, who have cut all ties to their own intellectual moorings, now espouse policies and personalities that would get them laughed out of Periclean Athens. The few conservatives still able to hold up one end of a Socratic dialogue are those in the ostracized libertarian wing — interestingly enough, a group with a disproportionately high representation among fans of speculative fiction.

More on Stephenson here.

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  • Grotius||

    My advice for this weekend: Read Herodotus.

    ...not the freedom-loving Leonidas...

    Ask the helots about that.

  • ||

    I decided to save my dollar coin pieces and just watched the History channel two hour documentary on this battle. Turns out the title should be "1300".

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    I'm not so sure the fact that it's a hit is all that surprising. Kinda like Titanic, it's a good cross-over movie -- plenty of special effects and action for guys, plenty of beefcake for women (and, sure, gay men). My problem with 300 is that it just wasn't nearly as gory as I expected.

  • Grotius||

    But they're nervous that Emperor Xerxes of Persia, not the freedom-loving Leonidas, might be George Bush.

    Aren't they also nervous about the rampant homosexuality amongst the spartiate? ;)

  • Grotius||

    Tim,

    Yeah, the Thespians always get ignored.

  • Robert||

    Probably like the movie They Live, onto which activists of all stripes project their, uh, stripes.

  • Bhh||

    I always took Bush for a latin american despot rather than an oriental despot, but it kind of works.

    Anyway I was waiting for someone to figure out that the decadent swishy overreaching empire is us.

  • Timothy||

    Grotius | March 23, 2007, 11:36am | #
    Tim,

    Yeah, the Thespians always get ignored.


    If all you did was smoke cigarettes and complain about your dad, people would ignore you too.

  • Guy Montag||

    Is there some class in college that focuses on reading in every wacky personal bias into movies?

    Check out this review.

  • ||

    Timothy,

    Good Form.

    Also, the parallel of a battle between Greece (somewhat representative of western society) v. Persia (officially known as Iran since 1935)...

    ...is a bit chilling

  • Grotius||

    Timothy,

    Yes, people make that sort of joke about the Thespians all the time.

  • ||

    A metaphor for the war on terror? I thought it was a metaphor for illegal immigration.

    I remember being e-assaulted on a thread in a Fellowship of the Ring movie forum for suggesting that jihadists had as good a claim to resembling the "good guys" in that film as we did. In this case too, it's hard to cast the US as the outmanned and outshipped underdog.

  • ||

    it's hard to cast the US as the outmanned and outshipped underdog.

    So Alexander didn't eventually conquer most of the region?

  • Frunobulax||

    what side would Hiro Protagonist be on if he opted in for Thermopylae?

  • Andyraz||

    Slate's review of the film originally concluded by saying:
    "In a classic example of the epic understatement known as litotes, Variety's reviewer observes that the picture's vision of the West as a heroic contingent of sculpted badasses and the East as a cauldron perversion and iniquity "might be greeted with muted enthusiasm in the Middle East." Replace the words "muted enthusiasm" with "a roadside bomb," and you've got yourself a tagline for the Baghdad premiere."

    That's right - if you see 300, you support the terrorists. Or something.

  • Timothy||

    Grotius: And, yet, it never gets old!

  • ||

    Guy: as a matter of fact, that's the heart and soul of Deconstructionism. There's a local "alternative weekly" rag in my town where nearly every movie review starts with the first person. As in "When I was a teenager..." or "While I never liked Meg Ryan..." It's crappy reviewing, but it's the style amongst "serious" reviewers nowadays.

    As for 300, it does plenty of preaching about "freedom" and the virtues of the warrior way and therefore deserves a bit of deconstructionism in return. It's worth seeing just for the look of the film, however. For the most part, the plot is simple enough that it doesn't distract from the fight scenes and the decadent splendor of the Persian armies is a wonder to behold.

  • Grotius||

    Taktix,

    Yes, but that was somewhat later. Let's see, thermopylae was in 479 BCE and Alexander's efforts to conquer the Persians started in the mid-330s BCE.

  • Grotius||

    Er, actually, Salamis was in 479 BCE and Thermopylae was in 480 BCE.

  • Grotius||

    James,

    Deconstructionism is simply a tool. It can be used wisely or not so wisely.

  • ||

    "Thermopylae is a wedgie issue!"

    There.

    Fixed it for you.

  • Grotius||

    Anyway, I've read the that film presents the Persians as effeminate. Anyway, that's in part how Aeschylus treated them in his play called "The Persians" (late 470s BCE).

  • Andy||

    Before we get too heavily into this, let me say that the single biggest flaw of the film is its absolute obsession with recreating the graphic novel. Shot for shot, line for line. Sometimes, it comes off as pretty cool. Sometimes (See the ridiculous "panel" sex scene) it just looks silly.

    But my central point is this, it's a graphic novel released during the Clinton administration, and it made little or no attempt to add anything - commentary, interpretation, or the like. So people who accuse it of cheerleading for the war, or Bush, or whatever the heck else are kind of silly. Its like when the new Star Wars came out and everyone started complaining how the Empire was veiled criticism of the American government (which was extraordinarily depressing, of course, because it was originally conceived as a critique of fascism).

  • Andy||

    Thanks Grotius -

    That's another point. The comic, and with it, the movie, were designed to show all this from the Greek perspective. OF COURSE the opponent is seen as simultaneously animalistically (not a word, but it will do) brutal and effeminately weak. They're the ENEMY. There were also not millions of them - but it sure must've felt like it.

  • Grotius||

    Andy,

    Does the film also mention the fact that much of Persia's army was made up of Hellenes?

    Anyway, the war between Persia and its allies and some of the Greek city states is very complex and very interesting.

  • Grotius||

    What I find humorous is how some conservatives have rallied around a society many of whose aspects they would find, hmm, less than pleasing.

  • ||

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    Don't go see 300.

    It's a complete hack-job.

  • Andy||

    Grotius,

    Oh, no way. The bad guys are the bad guys. They are different and evil and must be stopped. And so forth.

    It's incredibly interesting - but this film isn't really aspiring to that history. Have you read "Gates of Fire" by Steven Pressfield?

  • ||

    Guy,

    Is there some class in college that focuses on reading in every wacky personal bias into movies?

    Yes, it's called women's studies.

    If the personal is political, then all personal reactions to politics can be externalized as objective truths. Since the human animal's favorite subject is always themselves, everything that offends them must offend everyone else if they are to be considered an honest actor. If someone disagrees with you, then they are denying the objective truth of the matter that is plain for all to see.

    This is, in fact, the key to my understanding of the left and the right in this country. They both "see" objective truth. The left believes anyone who doesn't agree with them just hasn't seen the truth yet (note the title "An Inconvenient Truth" and the language about "denying" global warming) and the right thinks everyone sees the truth and knows it in their hearts, but are willfully refusing to walk the "right" path in life (aka "sin.")

  • ||

    "They're the ENEMY. There were also not millions of them - but it sure must've felt like it."

    The controversy over the numbers is big, but there is a good argument for the force being in the millions.

    Maybe not the 5 million that ancient histories report, but some historians consider a figure close to 2 million as reasonable.

  • ||

    A good deal more than 1300 really. More than 4000 is more likely

    The Spartans likely had armed servants with them.

    Herodotus says of the spartans "Spartieteoon te triekosioi hoplitai" or "Of the Spartiates (there were) three hundred fully armored men". The hoplites were the heavy infantry of greek warfare, but the Spartans were known to go into battle with armed Helots (their underclass, essential serfs ala feudal europe) attending and supporting the hoplites.

    Additionally, there were Greek forces from the sorrounding tribes and Sparta's allies.

    Herodotus gives the following list:

    Assorted Greeks:
    500 Tegeans
    500 Maniteans
    1120 Arcadians
    400 Corinthians
    200 Phlians
    80 Mycenaens

    Fellow Peloponesians:
    700 Thespians
    400 Thebans

    I make that 3900 at least.

    The 300 refers to the Spartiates, full Spartan citizens, who get special attention for remaining behind on the last day after the Greeks learned that Hydarnes and the Immortals were circling around them through the mountains.

    Even then it wasn't only the 300 Spartans...the Thespian contingent voluntarily stayed behind and died as well.

    One extra tidbit to consider: When an ally would call for help, Sparta would often send on 50 or so Spartiates, and that was considered just as good as another city sending hundreds of soldiers. The senior Spartiate was always the commander of the allied army, and the rest served as advisors to the allied armies. So while 300 Spartiates may seem a small force, it was a big deal in ancient greek warfare.

    Of course 300 the comic takes extreme license with the story (ex: Epialtes was a Melian and not disfigured, the ephors were just a council of elders)...and the movie takes some serious liberties with the comic (like the entire stupid homefront storyline)... so it is important to sit back and say "This isn't history, and this isn't 300 the comic" and it is a fun flick.

    I recommend Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield for a slightly more historical account.

  • ||

    I'm confused, and I certainly don't want a mushroom cloud to be proof of Iran's danger. Attack!! Wait, what is this thread about?

  • Bhh||

    Are they shirtless the whole movie? When you're buffed it's tempting to go around like that all day, I know. But you really should put on your breastplate when dealing with 100,000 charging gay orcs. Hoplites were the tanks of the day.

  • GILMORE||

    Stephenson was right: Libertarians *are* nerds.

    Now that I've read the wikipedia entry on Thermopylae, whats the point of seeing the movie? I know how it ends.

    Funny, they didnt mention the mutant-looking guys though

  • ||

    The fact that people of all political stripes look to a fucking movie to somehow illustrate or explain the war in Iraq or domestic politics really points to a major failure on the part of the media and politicians to present any sort of context or explanation as to where we are as a country, or where we are going.

    I think there has been more analysis of Anna Nicole's life than any one single serious issue facing our country.

  • ||

    bhh,

    Some magazine (SciFi?) called the movie "600" because they found it so nipple-centric.

    Ask the helots about that.

    Actually, I find a character that strongly believes in freedom "for me and mine not thee and thine" to be particularly relevant to modern day.

  • ||

    Marcus,

    Undoubtedly, one could arrive at several profound truths on serious issues by closely examining the life of Anna Nicole Smith. I'll leave it to others though.

  • ||

    When, in the ad, the Greek commander shouted "Spartans! for freedom" or some such, it was a good tipoff that historical accuracy was not tops on the list of priorities for the director.

  • ||

    Have you read "Gates of Fire" by Steven Pressfield?

    One of my favorite books of all time. I was so hoping for a movie version of it. Can't decide if "300" makes that more or less likely.

  • tijjer||

    I'll second the recommendation for Pressfield's Gates of Fire. I read that about two years ago and with it still somewhat fresh in my head I saw 300.

    On the continuum of

    Documentary
    Based on True Events
    Inspired by True Events
    This Shit Was Made Up

    I'd put 300 at around 'Inspired by True Events' while Gates of Fire is somewhere around 'Based on True Events'.

    Of course, given that Herodotus' account seems to fall somewhat short of 'Documentary' status, who knows about any of that.

    In retrospect, this post maybe should be toward the bottom of my hierarchy.

  • ||

    I'm hoping for some decent film adaptations of Mary Renault's Greek Historical novels. But I know that the movie studios are still not ready to embrace that much "teh gay" in films yet.

    They could do the Theseus books maybe, He was pretty butch.

  • ||

    Why is this movie a "surprise" hit?

  • Crestfallen||

    I saw this Hollywood movie and it was NOTHING.. *NOTHING, I tell you* like reality!!

    I've never been so surprised and disappointed in my whole life.

  • LarryA||

    Video games have turned everyone under the age of 20 into experts on military history and tactics; 12-year-olds on school buses argue about the right way to deploy onagers and cataphracts while outflanking a Roman triplex acies formation.

    This is a culture change. I recall when Red Dawn came out in 1984 the most common criticism was, "Why would invaders want a town like Calumet, Colorado?" The answer, "It sits in a mountain pass" usually drew a blank stare or "What difference does that make?"

    What I find humorous is how some conservatives have rallied around a society many of whose aspects they would find, hmm, less than pleasing.

    Sort of like praising the family devotion in March of the Penguins as an allegory of moral marriage while ignoring the fact that the birds choose a new mate every year.

    But you really should put on your breastplate when dealing with 100,000 charging gay orcs.

    Spartan helmets weren't that open either. I always like the Hollywood "emote quotient" that means the hero can't wear anything covering his expression. Other incarnations include fighter pilots who always shed their oxygen mask before saying anything pithy, ninjas who can't keep their hoods on, knights with open helmets, and the grunts in Starship Troopers who wore old-timey football helmets instead of Heinlein's combat suits.

  • Grotius||

    Andy,

    Nope, I've just read Herodotus.

  • ||

    But I know that the movie studios are still not ready to embrace that much "teh gay" in films yet.

    You obviously haven't seen Alexander. BTW, don't, even if you're a fan of man-on-man action. I'm not, but I could have dealt with that if the rest of it had been good - instead, it's one of the worst movies ever made.

  • Grotius||

    LarryA,

    On the Athenian stage in the classical era actors had their faces and bodies covered. Their voice was basically their single tool. It is one of the reasons that the plays of Aeschylus, etc. are rarely ever done as they were in classical times.

  • ||

    Video games have turned everyone under the age of 20 into experts on military history and tactics; 12-year-olds on school buses argue about the right way to deploy onagers and cataphracts while outflanking a Roman triplex acies formation.



    Considering that a lot of gaming online involves people yelling, "Dammit, no rushes!" and "OMG HAX!", I'm skeptical of this idea.

  • ||

    The one thing that troubles me about the esitmated size of the Persian army is how do you feed an army of 2 million?

    Assuming each soldier eats half a pound of food a day, your army is eating 3.5 million pounds of food a week. 15 million in a month.

    How do you procure that much? How do you store that much without it going bad? How do you transport it? If your transport is animal powered, then you must have food for the animals also.

  • Guy Montag||

    Is there a postmodernest review of this movie out there anywhere? Deconstructionists are too easy to follow.

  • ||

    On the day of the November 2008 elections, I want to post:

    "Libertarians! Tonight we dine in hell!"

    Somebody be sure to remind me.
    --------------------------------

    D.A.R. -- Good Inactivist post, with great links.

    --------------------------------------

    300 has provoked this interesting question around the Web: "Could the ancients have actually used rhinos in war?"

    "Almost certainly not."

    "Yeah. But wouldn't it be cool if the Hurons in Last of the Mohicans had war grizzlies?" (Picture on page 2.)
    -------------------------------

    Sci Fi (magazine of the cable channel) referred to 300 as "My Big Fat Greek Bloodletting."

  • ||

    Saw the movie at the IMAX last night.

    Loved it. It's one of the most gorgeously created films I have *ever* watched. I don't quite understand all the people who are upset about how the movie is stylized, with crazy rhinos and such. After all, it was never misrepresented as being historically accurate. The film makers were quite open about the film being a recreation of Frank Miller's graphic novel.

    I've been meaning to read Pressfield's book for a couple of years now.

    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ!

  • dhex||

    post-modernist.

    blog 4 lyfe.

  • ||

    Also, the girl didn't much care for it. Her response:

    "It was a total guy movie!"

    When I pointed out that there was plenty of ripped shirtless abage for her, she just rolled her eyes.

  • ed||

    Assuming each soldier eats half a pound of food a day, your army is eating 3.5 million pounds of food a week. 15 million in a month. How do you procure that much? How do you store that much without it going bad? How do you transport it?

    And where do you get enough toilet paper?

  • ||

    Grotius,

    Helot is an offensive and racist term. The Messenians prefer, well, Messenian. What are you, some sort of Spartan apologist?

  • ||

    The one thing that troubles me about the esitmated size of the Persian army is how do you feed an army of 2 million?

    Yeah, that's the key right there. Ancient chroniclers were notorious for such exaggeration, and a 'good story' with the proper moral was considered to be more important thank historical accuracy.

    Even the Romans during their highest point never fielded armies nearly that size, and they were considerably more prosperous than either the Classical-era Greeks or Persians. Those societies simply did not produce enough excess food to feed armies that large, and of course food is not very portable in large quantities and is subject to spoliage.

    Also consider that in a world of mano-a-mano combat, an army of 50,000 men was a formidable force, indeed. How would you even marshal a force of 500,000 men on a single battlefield without modern communications devices? It would be nothing more than a mob. Some of the Germanic barbarian armies might have been that big, but those were semi-nomadic societies with the "army" being literally every single male in the tribe in nothing more sophisticated than a headlong, unorganized rush. The Romans cut them to pieces.

  • ||

    The Persians fielded 150,000 soldiers, 800,000 servants, 1,000,000 prostitutes, and 50,000 pistachio vendors.

  • ||

    Considering that a lot of gaming online involves people yelling, "Dammit, no rushes!" and "OMG HAX!", I'm skeptical of this idea.

    There's no time for philosophizing WHILE you're (virtually) killing people. That should be pretty obvious. You geek out and discuss tactics during off-times.

  • ||

    Baked Penguin,

    True, there were some passionate gazing into each other's eyes in Alexander but there are scenes in Renault's The Persian Boy that would make John Waters blush.

    Stevo,
    On second thought you are right. I heard the "600" comment from some guy on Pajiba.
    My Big Fat Greek Bloodletting is pretty funny though.

  • ||

    Speaking of homosexual Greeks--not that there is anything wrong with that--I'm re-reading The Iliad, and I have to say that the conventional wisdom that says that Achilles and Patroclus were lovers is almost certainly wrong. There are some inconsistencies with that view within the epic itself, but it also goes against the way Greeks did things. Peers loving peers was a no-no. It was more an old man-boy thing, which, of course, grosses us out. As it should.

  • ||

    Rectum?

    Helot killed 'im!

  • ||

    the hero can't wear anything covering his expression

    One of the things that I found amusing about Kingdom of Heaven was that Edward Norton out-acted Orlando Bloom even while having a silver mask completely covering his face.

  • ||

    I've never even seen that movie Gates of Fire, and I never will because I'm already sick of that damn Vangelis music.

  • ||

    mk,

    I just saw that. Yeah, what friggin' genius cast Orlando Bloom? I guess teen-aged girls like him, but you'd think that wouldn't be the target demographic for a historical drama.

    Stevo,

    Yes, but I'm not giving up Bladerunner.

  • ||

    There's no time for philosophizing WHILE you're (virtually) killing people. That should be pretty obvious. You geek out and discuss tactics during off-time.

    Genocide is the most exhausting activity out there. Except for soccer.

  • ||

    mk - Was it pointless and irrelevant in Persian Boy, too? (note, this was just one of the many, many things about the movie that was pointless and irrelevant.)

    Edward Norton out-acted Orlando Bloom even while having a silver mask completely covering his face.

    If Norton played a mute quadriplegic, he could out act Bloom.

  • Dan T.||

    SugarFree says:

    This is, in fact, the key to my understanding of the left and the right in this country. They both "see" objective truth. The left believes anyone who doesn't agree with them just hasn't seen the truth yet (note the title "An Inconvenient Truth" and the language about "denying" global warming) and the right thinks everyone sees the truth and knows it in their hearts, but are willfully refusing to walk the "right" path in life (aka "sin.")

    I like this analysis - I've noticed myself that generally conservatives are considered "stupid" by their detractors and liberals are considered "crazy" by theirs.

    So where do libertarians fit in?

  • ||

    They're crazy stupid!

  • Frunobulax||

    "My Big Fat Greek Bloodletting"

    HA!

    :slaps knee:

  • Paul||

    I feel some negative criticism about the movie was unfair. The movie is what it is, a fantastical representation of an historical event, done very in a hyper-stylized manner. Personally, while everyone talks about the beefcake men, I found the women to be my personal favorite. They use the 'two pieces of linen' dress-form. Evening: Two vertical pieces of linen. Daytime: Horizontal piece of linen. Sportswear: Two pieces of linen going cross-ways. The women-folk never looked so damned good in a piece of linen.

    My only complaint-- and it's minor- was the overt Jesus Christ symbology in the last scene. They were Greeks, for chrissakes, why do we need more Hollywood fascination with the Jesus Christ Pose?

  • Paul||

    So where do libertarians fit in?

    Libertarians are the ninja-assassins of politics. Everyone fears us, few understand us. We remain under the thumb of no emperor, no dictator, no tyrant. We are feared and loathed because we are not understood. The traditional left and right hate eachother but they understand eachother. They're two old empires that know one another. Libertarians come in the dark of night, kill all of your long-held beliefs with a martial-art-like efficiency, and are gone as quietly as we came in. We are everywhere and nowhere. We are the night.

  • ||

    Before this movie came out, there was a huge hue and cry on discussion forums at The Miniatures Page about it by historical gamers (who tend to be the most anal in wargamer circles) due to its "historical inaccuracy." Now that the movie is actually out, a lot of those same critics are now comparing it to "Birth Of A Nation" or "Triumph Of The Will" and accusing anyone who liked it with either racism and/or stupidity. I guess if invoking academic nitpicks doesn't work, invoke political incorrectness or question your opponents intelligent.

    On the other hand, a lot of this sounds like some sort of political and cinematic equivalent of pareidolia. Only, rather than seeing Holy Virgins in grilled cheese sandwiches, you look for political messages in movies.

    I just spoke with a friend of mine who saw "300" last night and I think his view on this is the best: "I went to see a movie with interesting visual where guys with swords and spears thought other guys with swords and spears. I didn't go looking for any sort of allegory, and as far as I could see, there was none."

  • GILMORE||

    Lurker Kurt | March 23, 2007, 1:27pm | #

    The one thing that troubles me about the esitmated size of the Persian army is how do you feed an army of 2 million?


    Read the wikipedia piece on the battle. It actually questions the #s and compares many different analyses of the question, and the reality is that a) yes, the invading persian army was - in toto - in the millions...but b) the actual fielded, combat-active force in any given engagement could have varied between 200-600,000.

    The truth of the matter was that the greek composed forces overall in the theatre was in the 10's of thousands, and the persian was in the millions. In the actual Spartan 'protection of the retreat' (which is what the '300' Thermopylae stand was actually about), the weight of numbers, proportionately, was easily 100-1 to 1000-to1, persian/spartan. When you consider what form of war was fought in that age, which relied almost entirely on individual strength, courage and endurance in hand to hand combat, the battle was of monumental significance regardless of what the exact numbers were. The defeats significantly slowed down and damaged the persian capability and resolve, and gave the greek navy time to eliminate the invader's fleet, eventually destroying their supply lines and neutering the campaign.

    I dont think any of the broad strategic stuff is touched on in the film, but i havent seen it.

    Good book to check out is The Mask of Command, by John Keegan, which compares generalship in the ages of Alexander, Wellington, Grant, and Hitler... his analysis of alexanders successes was really enlightening about how ancient armies managed themselves logistically when on exetended conquests abroad, and how battles were fought in pace and scope, and what qualities were required in these conflicts between often vastly outnumbered groups.

    Alexander, for example, fought at least 2-3 battles of huge scale where his army was outnumbered 10-1, yet his force took the field by thrusting directly and immediately at the strongest elements of the enemy position, and quickly routed and executed 1000s in rapid charges... leaving often 50-60% of the enemy force to flee in the ensuing confusion of lines. Command and control was very poor in ancient war, so ususally battle was decided on the individual fortitude of the single soldier, and the ability of a commander to maintain a coherent line of attack at all times on a sustained basis until the enemy was in complete disarray.

    when you realize the nature of ancient warfare, it becomes easier to believe that 300 badasses+500-100 supporting fighters could cover a narrow pass against 1000s of thousands of poorly trained or sustained troops for at least a day or more. There was the very real detail that Spartans created piles of corpses that fighters had to climb over to reach them, which i imagine could be mildly demoralizing. It certainly makes great film imagery. :)


    JG

  • ||

    Good book to check out is The Mask of Command,

    Cher was also pretty good in the movie.

  • ||

    I'm the rare female ancient-history geek, so I really wanted this movie to be good. (I mean, by the way, real ancient history, not made-up-around-1965 stuff about the harmonious and beautiful Goddess worshipping matriarchies.) I also really liked Gates of Fire and the Mary Renault books. The Persian Boy would be an excellent movie, as would my personal fave, The Praise Singer. Actually, I think the latter, which takes place partially in Ephesus during the Persian conquest period would be a really good movie to make now.

    Pro L, I had a professor in college in a class on Alexander who agreed with you that the Achilles - Patroclus romantic affair was a bit of Hellenistic retconning based on Alexander and Hephaestion. On the other hand, there were things like The Sacred Band of Thebes, about which someone else can comment.

  • Grotius||

    mediageek,

    Well, what if I don't like this sort of stylized storytelling? I suppose - being the rather dull fellow that I am - that I find narratives which hew closesly to the sources to be more, hmm, "entertaining" that other approaches.

  • Grotius||

    Gilmore,

    The Athenians won a large number of sea battles in the Peloponessian War due in part to their ability to confuse their enemy. That they were better seamen also helped. Of course they lost that particular advantage as the war drug on.

  • ||

    I would be lying if I didn't say I wasn't a little disappointed in the movie. I liked it, but it could have been better. I love that period of history and for a time consumed every book and documentary there was on it. So it was probably impossible for me to just ignore certain aspects of the film that were lacking.

    I liked that he took a more "mythic" approach and didn't try to hew too closely to history. It was obvious Zakk (the director) wanted to do something more stylized that fit with the look of the film. So that was an interesting decision.

    However, the biggest issue with it I had was Frank Miller. Maybe it's sacrilege but I just don't think his writing translates well to the screen. What seems subtle or clever in his comics comes off as hammy and over the top in film. Maybe it's just the way the actors are reading it. I had the same problem with Sin City. Combining that with the pacing of a comic book, which is obviously different than a movie, and there are further problems. I think they should stop these experiments with trying to make a one to one translation. Just take what you need to make a good movie and leave the rest.

  • Robert||

    The bit about badasses makes perfect sense. If you were in a small space, as long as no individual could fight better than you, you could kill them all, one by one. The only thing they could do would be wear out your arm by making you stab them one at a time. In a really thin space you could save effort by shish-ke-babbing them. Or if you had a really long skewer you could just hold it for them to shish-ke-bab themselves on.

  • Robert||

    I guess I just answered the food delivery question too.

  • Guy Montag||

    One of the things that I found amusing about Kingdom of Heaven was that Edward Norton out-acted Orlando Bloom even while having a silver mask completely covering his face.

    Same with that robot in the "Lost in Space" TV show.

  • LarryA||

    Well, what if I don't like this sort of stylized storytelling? I suppose - being the rather dull fellow that I am - that I find narratives which hew closesly to the sources to be more, hmm, "entertaining" that other approaches.

    Watch the History Channel version. Inspired by a comic book movie!

  • Grotius||

    LarryA,

    I'd have to get cable first. ;)

  • eb||

    A friend and I saw it and loved it. And it seemed that the full theatre loved it too. I don't think anybody was that concerned about historical accuracy. I think the point that the movie was a fantasical retelling was probably revealed...oh, by everything in the movie.

    I've quite enjoyed everybody getting their panties in a twist over the various issues that come up in a comic book. I've been trying to convince my friends that space ships are not able to make a 90 degree bank in zero gravity space ever since the original Star Wars came out and they just will not listen to me.

  • ||

    Guy Montag,

    Little-known fact: Robot won three Emmys for his role on Lost in Space.

  • Guy Montag||

    Little-known fact: Robot won three Emmys for his role on Lost in Space.

    He was on the DC based "Don & Mike Show" once, but they were thinking (maybe) that he was the voice rather than the guy in the robot suit. Was a funny segment.

  • ||

    "Libertarians are the ninja-assassins of politics. Everyone fears us, few understand us. We remain under the thumb of no emperor, no dictator, no tyrant. We are feared and loathed because we are not understood. The traditional left and right hate eachother but they understand eachother. They're two old empires that know one another. Libertarians come in the dark of night, kill all of your long-held beliefs with a martial-art-like efficiency, and are gone as quietly as we came in. We are everywhere and nowhere. We are the night."

    Totally agree. You only forgot the part where the side whose long-held beliefs are being killed at the moment immediately attributes us to the other side. (Paging joe...) Ninja tactics indeed!

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