Wednesday, March 14, 2007

300: When a Movie becomes more important than Life !

Inspired by Baloot and Nazy.

I came back from the AMC theaters in Hamilton, NJ after getting into the last screening for the day for 300 directed by Zack Snyder. I did not hate the movie as most of Iranians expect me to, but it was no Sin City. In its first week 300 have sold 70.9 million dollars and yet many among the Iranians Community have started a Google Bomb campaign. Their main problem is the unsophisticated presentation of the great Persian army and their Emperor, Xerxes(I). Of course not everyone in that crowd agrees with this opposition and their number is so small that their side has not been heard properly.

I fall somewhere between the two sides of the argument. Given the fact that Iranians are proud of their own rubbish, specifically the ones related to the Great Persian Empire, I am very happy that most of these people who do not like 300 have chosen a civilized way to confront the issue; by using media bugs they are informing others of the inaccuracies that they believe exists in 300’s historical narration of Greco-Persian war(s). There are still some who consider taking legal action against Warner Bros Incorporation. On the other hand and aside form my happiness about this civilized reactions I don’t think 300 is a bad movie and moreover there is nothing offensive in its depiction of the Persian Army as most of Iranians believe so.

First of all it is a movie based on a comic book and any Heroic comic book, by default, has two sides: good and evil. It also looks at the world in black and white and so the exaggeration follows. The 300, a comic book by Frank Miller, won three Eisner Awards in 1999, for Best Limited Series, Best Writer/Artists and Best Colorist, Lynn Varley. Although I think the story was not a good choice for a movie as Sin City was, 300 the movie was an eye-catching film that should be seen in the big screen. So don’t wait for it to come out on DVD.

About the objections on the presentation of Persians’ armor and clothing, which many think has made them look like savages, I think it was a fare picture and in fact accuracy does not matter here; there are some facts about the huge amount of jewelry that Kings of Kings of Persia wore. At the same time except ear piercing we don’t know about piercing for other body parts. One should ask what artifact we have about the Achaemenid’s clothing besides some faded limestone (relief) relieves of kings, soldiers and defeated enemies standing next to the mysterious winged-lions, in ceremonial costume, posing in front of the king*. Also don’t forget that those stone relieves were decorated by jewels and gems as part of their design (those are gone today mostly due to theft). So there is a great chance that the Persian army and especially the Empire wore armor and different costume in times of war.

According to 300 the Persian army was a trained army. It was massive with at least four different divisions. Persians of 300 were aware of war strategies and they were civilized enough to send messengers three or four times to the small group of Spartans giving them amnesty. Spartans were offered to keep their own land, kingdom, people, religion and become wealthier under Xerxes; they only had to accept the Kings of 1000 Nations as their savior. Now please tell me which part of this is uncivilized and savage like. What was funny was that the Spartans were so sensitive about kneeling before Xerxes.

Please don’t be offended about the women in the Persian camp. Emperors would have the company of some women (of course not the queen) in wartime due to the long time that they had to spend in each war and as for the solders they would get their share from the civilians of the collapsed cities. Also keep in mind that what you think of savages today is different from the definition of uncivilized and savage in 500 BCE. Back then in the world of only few Empires, being a warrior, especially a pitiless one, was highly praised.

The Battle of Thermopylae, where only a few hundred Sparta held back the Persian army for three days, has been always admired in the West as a battle of loyalty to ones country. Xerxes, surprised by the small number of Greek soldiers, learned that Greek warriors were participating in the Olympic Festival at the time of the Persian attack and by the Olympic regulations they were banned from engaging in any battle. It is not the first time that the Battle of Thermopylae has been chosen as a subject of art.

Finally please give a little room for the creativity of the artist and the filmmaker. No one signed any petition for the biased facts in the history books (from Herodotus time up to today) and yet against 300, which never claimed to be historically accurate, people are campaigning; 300 is just a B movie.

300, The leader of the Immortals,
Xerxes’ elite fighting force,
Isn't it a sophisticated army with special divisions like this?

300, Leonidas (Gerard Butler), Ruler of Sparta
Who had a harsh childhood like other Spartans to become a great warrior

* Honestly do you think Achaemenid army would fight in those costumes; if it had done so, borders of Persia would have hardly reached the extent it had before their collapse in 330 BCE by Alexander the Great.


Nazy said...

Tameshk Jan:

What an insightful and thorough posting about "Much Ado About Nothing!" It was awesome to read your well-thought and informative prose. Hollywood makes movies to make money. Historical accuracies are rather mote points, as protests to many movies of recent memory demonstrate. In Oliver Stone's depiction of 911 events, Twin Towers, the guy who rescued the two heroes was shown to be a white male, where in fact, it turned out later that he had been an African American. No petitions or hoopla was sent his way for this grave error by African Americans. The story was told in US morning programs, and the egg hit Oliver Stone smack on the face. I believe Iranians must tell the true story of present Iran to all, in order to thwart attempts to display Iranians as cruel half-humans. This is a process that takes time, thought, love, and patience. Signing electronic petitions and pushing the send button won't achieve this. Articles, presentations, speeches, books and letter might. Appearing as a belligerent and angry mob won't help our cause. Articulation, reasoning, and thought will. Thank you for listing my blog on your list. I have also added yours my unmet intelligent friend. Be good. Prosper and keep writing. This is your calling and valuable contribution to peace and freedom for all Iranians.

TAMESHK said...

Nazy Jan

Thanks for your encouraging comment, I Look forward to read more of your blog.

Nazy said...

Tameshk! There might be relatively good news about the two remaining women! Their families were called to go post (an stronomical) bail. Take a look Asieh Amini's blog

I hope they get out. I wanted to share this with you my friend. nazy