Sunday, March 11, 2007


I joined a couple of friends yesterday to see the film 300, not knowing in advance what it was or would be about - just trusting them that this appeared to be the best option out there for the evening...and I loved it. Here are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I was watching it. 1) This is a real art house movie, I'm surprised it got wide distribution. 2) this is by far the best historical epic film I've ever seen, 3) it's truly artistically brave, and 4) it feels more like a play than a film, very stylized, both in look and in words. I only found out after seeing it that 300 is based on a comic book series. This morning I read that it grossed $70M at the box office this weekend, the third highest performance on record.

So I was surprised to find on its Rotten Tomatoes page that half of the "cream of the crop", i.e., the nation's top reviewers, didn't like it. Here are a few choice quotes from these crème de la crème:

A.O. Scott of the NY Times (someone I usually do agree with): "300 is about as violent as Apocalypto and twice as stupid." Kyle Smith of the NY Post: "Keeping in mind Slate's Mickey Kaus' Hitler Rule -- never compare anything to Hitler -- it isn't a stretch to imagine Adolf's boys at a 300 screening, heil-fiving each other throughout and then lining up to see it again." Stephanie Zacharek of "300, even with its impressive vistas of computer-generated soldiers, is just a throwaway epic." The Newark Star Ledger: "History is inconveniently complex. And so we get Frank Miller's version, in which everything is simplified to the point of porridge."

These reviewers need to get a life. Or maybe smoke a joint or two (although for the record I didn't have anything in me when I saw it). They seem to be hung up on historical inaccuracies. They seem to judge this film by the standards of cinema verite. This movie doesn't pretend to be historically accurate. It doesn't pretend to be accurate or real. Even without knowing a priori what it was about, it clearly felt to me like a fable or a Greek myth. And a great one at that. Highly recommended by yours truly.


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