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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Conservative movie review of 300

I've already posted about how much I loved the movie 300, but I can't resist one more. I just read the review on Libertas ("a forum for conservative thought on film" and a great blog) and I think it really nailed the movie's appeal to conservatives. Here are a few excerpts:

How did this one slip through? That’s all I can think of to say right now: How did this one slip through? I sat in the theatre waiting. Waiting for the switch. Though I refused to take the bait (too many movies I’ve seen, says I) I still waited for the switch. There’s always a bait and switch. You don’t make the white guys the good guys and the non-white guys the bad guys without a switch — especially bad guys in turbans. Turbans! But there was no switch. Here’s a movie about free men dying to protect freedom against tyranny — where the anti-war voices are corrupt, cowardly, dead-wrong, and politically driven — where people talk about the honor of dying for one’s country — where a strong women urges a skittish council to declare war because the enemy already has — and there’s no switch. And then to top it off: The movie’s actually good.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a conservative or pro-Bush film. If it were it would be just another Hollywood polemic. It’s no message film, either. It is first and foremost a highly sylized, very violent battle film that will appeal to conservatives for the same reason it’ll have close-minded liberals — spoiled by thirty years of getting their way in darkened theatres — grinding their teeth: The film is not liberal.

The author's conclusion does a good job of summing up the movie's appeal to audiences who love it in spite of liberal critics:
I’ve no doubt critics are calling 300 old-fashioned, and worse. But they’re wrong. After forty years of liberal rule in Hollywood it is nihilism that’s old-fashioned. It is moral relativism that is tired. It is political correctness, the always-noble people of color, the always-evil white guy, and the metrosexual that is cliched. A film with a clear divide between good and evil is something new. A film that celebrates patriotism, heroism, sacrifice, freedom, and honor is something revolutionary. In 1955 300 would be old-fashioned. In 2007 it makes a counter-culture statement as strong as Easy Rider in its day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The film is neither conservative nor liberal. Be careful when classifying art, history, etc., in ideological terms. Truth is deeper than that.
300 is an ode to organized, wanton, self-glorifying violence. It lies about history, (the Persians were probably more civilized and humane than the Greeks at the time). Also the Athenians were mostly responsible for the defeat of Darius through the Greek fleet's victory at Salamis.
Leonidas is praised for flouting the laws of war when he killed the messengers. The scene with the delphic oracle is deliberately set up to ridicule organized, traditional religious beliefs by absurd caricature.
The Spartan warriors in some ways reminded me of the Aryan archetype. Will to Power anyone?