Another Classic Adaptation Worth Missing

Following the fine (?) tradition of Gladiator, Troy, and Alexander, Hollywood will now be bringing us the story of the battle of Thermopylae, a suicide mission in which three hundred Spartans held the Persian army off long enough for the rest of the Greeks to get off their duffs and defend their homeland. According to The Guardian, the new movie, 300, is based on a graphic novel (red flag #1) which features monsters and warriors with superpowers (red flag #2) written by a man who didn’t “realise that the hero wasn’t necessarily the guy who won” (flaming radioactive red flag #3). Mark my words: no good can come of this.

via ARLT

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15 comments on “Another Classic Adaptation Worth Missing

  1. Wil Cone says:

    Ok, ok, it may not be “historically accurate” “well written” or “well directed”, but did you see those gravity-defying leaps!?!

  2. turtlebella says:

    yes, but will the actors speak in (often fake) English accents?! Someone, please explain that to me. Is it the bias within the Classical field that British (and moreover English) is better?

  3. Chuck says:

    Isn't the British accent supposed to signal to the listener to “insert appropriate accent here”? It's a universal accent that, apparently, isn't supposed to sound British.
    But doesn't it sound classy? πŸ˜‰

  4. Andrew says:

    Normally, I'd be agreeing with you Sylvia, but ever since I saw the first trailer, I've been beside myself with anticipation. I certainly won't be watching it as you do A Lion In Winter, but rather as you do Alien. πŸ™‚

  5. Wil Cone says:

    Actually I think movies like this might inspire some young whippersnappers to want to learn more about classical history. It's cool!

  6. Jason says:

    After almost finish reading The Histories by Herodotus, I sincerely feel that the youngsters who would be drawn to classical history by the movie would be most likely to be disappointed. The description on the actual battle scenes are rather scant and no superhuman solders and monsters participating the battle. Classical history does not equal to the world depicted in Lord of the Rings.

  7. Ted says:

    I'm a little hesitant to step in here, since I haven't read this particular graphic novel — but I'm a fan of Frank Miller's work in general, specifically Sin City, and I think the movie of that name worked exceptionally well. From what I can tell, 300 was filmed according the same principles, namely in that it is a comic book turned into a movie on the most basic level: taking the book and using it as a storyboard, even to the point of framing shots so that they look exactly the same as the graphic novel. Since Frank Miller is an excellent artist, this is a good thing.
    I would argue that this approach, with its superheroes and monsters style, is considerably more creative than the Gladiator and Troy style, where historical fact is adopted by a screenwriter, who still holds to some modicum of “realism.” The “comic book” approach makes the story into a different thing entirely, and no one get confused thinking they're watching historical fiction.
    Also, to be fair, Frank Miller's quote about not realizing that the hero didn't always win was a reference to his experience watching The 300 Spartans at age six (“'I was used to seeing Superman punch out planets'”). A perfectly respectable epiphany for a six-year-old to have.

  8. Wil Cone says:

    Somewhat related – on a medieval-studies list I'm on, there was a discussion regarding early interest in the subject. The most-cited sources weren't medieval at all, but rather medieval-esque fantasy (Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Lewis's Narnia, etc.).
    P.S. I'm a fan of Frank Miller too (especially his older stuff).

  9. Sylvia says:

    Fair enough, Ted. Perhaps the description of the film's “hysterical weirdness” could be the third red flag! It is depressing, though, to think that real history can't be made interesting on-screen. Thermopylae seems amazing enough to me without embellishment.
    Good advice, Andrew!

  10. Ted says:

    Indeed. Hysterical weirdness, plus its promise to be outrageously gory, is a reason to stay away if it doesn't match up with one's taste.
    I agree that a historical epic of the stand would make a great film. Perhaps this 1962 movie is worth looking into. I wish movie-makers would take more material from ancient history, myth, and legend. Hollywood was really into it in the 50s and 60s, but these films have not stood the test of time well — for example, Jason and the Argonauts. I'd like to think that even something like Cleopatra could look nice if they really committed to it.

  11. KaneCitizen says:

    I think you ought to read the graphic novel… I thought it was very good. (I don't remember it containing any monsters or super powers.)

  12. Sylvia says:

    I'm sure it's entertaining but I'm more interested in what really happened. At any rate, my library doesn't have it.

  13. George Andrews says:

    Am I being a stick in the mud for pointing out that the Spartans had another five to six thousand people with them? The Persians would have walked through three hundred; it was only because the five thousand could hold the narrow field and not be flanked that they lasted four days. Furthermore, the Spartans, along with the Athenian hubris, destroyed The Golden Age of Greece. The Spartans were primarily responsible for eventual collapse of Classical Greece!

  14. Sylvia says:

    Not at all, George. Historical accuracy is more than welcome here! Thanks for commenting.

  15. Hermana Grande says:

    For those who like that sort of thing, I'm told “300” was campier than a Boy Scout jamboree. πŸ˜‰

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