Stephen Speicher

300 (2007)

Rate this movie   58 votes

  1. 1. Artistic Merit

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  2. 2. Sense of Life, or Personal Value

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201 posts in this topic

Thus I would say it is almost time for a film version of Anthem. :angry:

I hadn't really thought of what a film adaptation of Anthem should be like, but now that I have, I think that, stylistically speaking, 300 comes very, very close to it.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

I agree that was a poignant moment. The touching moment for me was when Leonidas had died, and Gorgo gave his necklace to their little son, looking at him with all the hope in the world.

Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

There were so, so many moments in this movie that really got to me, whether because they were touching, inspiring, or revolting (in the right way). A few others:

When Leonidas refuses to let Ephialtes fight as a soldier.

When Gorgo tells Leonidas to come back "with [his] shield or on it."

When Xerxes talks about his "kindness" as opposed to Leonidas' "cruelty."

When Gorgo kills Theon. (The whole theater cheered when that happened.)

When Artemis tells of his "only regret" and rejoins the 300 with a renewed and a "heart filled with hate." And Leondias' response to him.

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Here is a review from the Iranians. Surprisingly they are a little upset about this movie.

Shucks. What a shame.

How telling that the response posits a giant propaganda conspiracy by the U.S. government--and Hollywood! Wouldn't the Bush administration love to have a fraction that kind of cooperation from Hollywood?

Gave me the biggest laugh I've had all day. Thanks.

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I absolutely loved this movie and knew it was going to be great from the start when by the first ten minutes I had seen two grappling techniques! When Leonidas is sparring with his son, the son shoves Leonidas' arm off of his shoulder to create an opening, then shoots in for a single-leg takedown in the created space--then later, Leonidas counters by hurling his son down with a shoulder throw that looks like an Ippon Seio-Nage from Jiu-Jitsu.

So clearly the movie started great :angry:

It is late so I'll have to say more later, however, I will add that I positively adored the massive level of proper mind-body integration that was displayed throughout this whole film.

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My only real complaint about the movie come from the same scene (and is a very, very minor complaint), but is something completely different. I thought the attempt at humor in this scene (Leondias' claiming to have a cramp in his legs) was a little cheesy and out-of-place. It just didn't really fit in at all with the grandeur of the entire rest of the movie, and for a few moments I wasn't "in the movie" anymore. It didn't take too long to get caught back up in the story, though, so it's not a huge deal. It is, however, the only reason I gave the movie a 9 for artistic merit instead of a 10.
I totally agree. It seems totally out of place. They easily could have come up with a better reason than that for not kneeling. The idea of kneeling in front of a god or king (in this case godking) or not is central to the movie- it symbolizes surrendering your judgement, freedom, life to another being. They could have solidified that symbolism by coming up with a better retort for Leonidas.

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I totally agree. It seems totally out of place. They easily could have come up with a better reason than that for not kneeling. The idea of kneeling in front of a god or king (in this case godking) or not is central to the movie- it symbolizes surrendering your judgement, freedom, life to another being. They could have solidified that symbolism by coming up with a better retort for Leonidas.

If you remember the previous scene with Leonidas and Artemis, I think that it sets up the scene of discussion as a joke. In the previous scene Leonidas has decided to meet with Xerxes and Artemis tells him that he should not go. Leonidas' response was something of a joke when he said, "we can at least be civil." Be civil, after the Spartans just killed or maimed a lot of Xerxes' men, laughable. I thought his joking about being civil was very funny and perfect for a warrior along with the next scene. This is also the area where he tells Xerxes that "you don't know our women", which was also laughable. So I thought that the whole scene from the being civil statement through the end was perfectly integrated as there was no way the Spartans were ever going to surrender and laughable to even think about it as it would have been a contradiction to reality.

So why even meet with Xerxes in the first place? I cannot tell you why Leonidas met with him, but I can tell you why I think he would have met with him. The meeting could have worked for the benefit of the Spartans in many ways. First, it gives the Spartans time to recuperate. Although the Spartans were probably some of the greatest warriors ever, they were still human and need time to recuperate. Second, it gives the Spartans time to build the human wall to bigger propotions. Third, Leonidas gets to measure up his opponent and find out where his weaknesses are. Lastly, Leonidas leaves Xerxes with the mental thought that Leonidas and his men must be either crazy or have extreme confidence which gives the mental battle to the Spartans. There could have been many more reasons, but these are just what came to me while watching the movie.

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Actually the reason for his taunting via insult and humor is made explicitly clear in the very next scene: to challenge Xerxes' "hubris" ie his status as a 'god' who should not and could not be defied. Directing humor at such a figure is the perfect moral approach. It defeats them completely. Throughout the exchange, Xerxes keeps trying to get the King to treat him as an object of worship or at least an equal who should be reasoned with - ie Xerxes wants the unearned. He needs the recognition of the King. And, by using humor, the King refuses to grant him either. Instead he treats Xerxes as an object worthy only of derision - of laughter. And, as AR indicated, that is essentially the worst thing one can do to such a second-hander. That is why I think the scene was brilliant - and that the script for '300' is superb. The script -seems- simple, but it is far from it.

Specifically, the whole scene is a strategic tactic on the part of the King - either to goad Xerxes into killing him on the spot (which would result in all of Greece rallying against Xerxes) or to goad Xerxes into making tactical errors (such as he does - sending his best fighters to do battle while the Spartans are still fresh, rather than much later when they are diminished) in order to give his men a better chance at winning this battle.

Thus I think philosophically and artistically the use of humor in this scene was perfect.

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Minor Spoiler

I thought the movie was great. I could have done with a little less spinal cords and such and I thought the mutant like qualities of some of the Persian army didn't need to be so outrageous but still the battle scenes and beautiful backdrops far outweighed that.

I didn't think the movie was perfect philosophically, but it was one of the best I have seen in my life. The sense of life, and essential differences between the two sides was captured in one of Xerxes lines to the hunchback that I thought was brilliant writing (recalling from memory), "Unlike your cruel king who requires you to stand, I only require that you kneel, because I am kind." For all the critics that tried to apologize for the Persians, this line I think underscored the essential difference in the cultures, and why the Spartans were vastly superior.

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Minor Spoiler

The . . . essential differences between the two sides was captured in one of Xerxes lines to the hunchback that I thought was brilliant writing (recalling from memory), "Unlike your cruel king who requires you to stand, I only require that you kneel, because I am kind."

Indeed!

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Minor Spoiler

I thought the movie was great. I could have done with a little less spinal cords and such and I thought the mutant like qualities of some of the Persian army didn't need to be so outrageous but still the battle scenes and beautiful backdrops far outweighed that.

I actually liked this approach - the body providing a physical mirror to the soul inside (both for the good and evil). It was especially well suited to the context of a Spartan storyteller weaving a mythic tale about mythic heroes and mythic foes.

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I am bringing this over from the other thread on 300, because it brings up a point I'd like to address. But since my post is mostly about my reaction to the movie, I think this thread is the best fit for it.

The theme is part of it, as is the style; the what and the how both deserve consideration in judging artistic merit.

My point, though, was the idea of picking apart the movie based on historical facts (e.g., Xerxes didn't look like that; there weren't really "mutants;" Sparta wasn't a republic based on individual rights so they shouldn't call themselves free; etc.) is entirely irrlevant. What is presented here is a wonderful story of heroes and villains, with the heroes on the right philosophical side of the conflict, in a heavily stylized manner, with a definite plot, with a powerful, proud spirit.

This is a Romantic movie -- and a great one.

It's positively absurd to ignore or denigrate this film on the basis of the historical battle itself, and make no or little mention of the nobility of the heroes, the grandeur of the film (in perceptual terms as well as in terms of character, conflict, theme and plot), or the romanticism.

I don't think that Romantic as a description, by itself, captures the whole nature of this film. I would describe it as a Romantic parable. I don't think it can be confused with Romantic realism, for instance.

A Romantic realist depiction of this story is either not possible, or if it is, it might not be too inspiring today; because it would necessarily have to include a cultural context with more accurate concretes and more developed characters. But, assuming that the heroism of the Spartans would still be the theme, the realism part of the equation would undermine their depiction as heroic.

That is because a more realistic portrayal, even if Romanticized, could not fail to acknowledge that the economic basis of the culture was slavery, its social nature was rigid conformity, and its politics were a very early version of the rule of law. But since Greek culture in general was far superior to Persian culture, the story, done as it is in this film, is (I think) the best approach to it.

The movie was so hyped here, and the film clips were so great, that I was (naively) expecting an almost Objectivist film. My expectations were wrong, and way out of line with reality, which, if I'd given it more thought before I went, I'd have realized how off my expectations were; because the story has to be presented in a generalized way, as a parable, in order to be the moral kind of story that it is.

I don't know if I ought to be sorry that my favorite part was not something more profound, but it was where

Queen Gorgo kills Theron

.

This film gets a perfect score for anything and everything visual, and also had very good acting, theme, story, and an appropriate script. I can't gush about it, because my expectations were far too high. I'd give it a 7 overall (8 for artistic merit, 6 for my own sense of life reaction).

Maybe a second viewing after it comes out on video will make me more of a fan. This does happen every so often. I saw it in an IMAX theater, so I got the full effect, sort of. I say sort of, because I used ear plugs for a lot of it and could still hear it perfectly well, which only means to me that it was often far too loud for the comfort of people who are not hearing-impaired.

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The movie was so hyped here, and the film clips were so great, that I was (naively) expecting an almost Objectivist film.

I apologize for this sloppiness. Of course, there is no such thing as an Objectivist film. This was shorthand for: A Romantic realist drama with an implicit Objectivist philosophy.

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Minor Spoiler

The sense of life, and essential differences between the two sides was captured in one of Xerxes lines to the hunchback that I thought was brilliant writing (recalling from memory), "Unlike your cruel king who requires you to stand, I only require that you kneel, because I am kind." For all the critics that tried to apologize for the Persians, this line I think underscored the essential difference in the cultures, and why the Spartans were vastly superior.

This was, in my opinion, the most significant point in the movie. Philosophically, it linked mysticism and altruism (religion puts a man on his knees); thematically, it summed up everything, making even the practice of discarding deformed babies seem understandable.

The "kindness" scene was a brilliant way of showing that the Spartans wanted to look up at men while the Persians wanted to look down at them. The Spartans would dispose of a newborn whom they saw as otherwise condemned to a life of pity and slavery, especially in pre-technological times. The traitor escaped this early fate but ended up a tool of evil.

The scene was an exceptional illustration of a rarely grasped idea. I wonder how Miller could have seen this and yet not excised the use of "sacrifice" from other parts of the film.

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MORE SPOILERS AHEAD

This was, in my opinion, the most significant point in the movie. Philosophically, it linked mysticism and altruism (religion puts a man on his knees); thematically, it summed up everything, making even the practice of discarding deformed babies seem understandable.
I also think it tied in beautifully with another scene, near the end, when the King, facing his imminent death, turns to this traitorous hunchback - this creature willing to prostrate himself to others - and, with sadness rather than anger, condemns him completely with the wish: "May you live forever."

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MORE SPOILERS AHEAD
This was, in my opinion, the most significant point in the movie. Philosophically, it linked mysticism and altruism (religion puts a man on his knees); thematically, it summed up everything, making even the practice of discarding deformed babies seem understandable.

I also think it tied in beautifully with another scene, near the end, when the King, facing his imminent death, turns to this traitorous hunchback - this creature willing to prostrate himself to others - and, with sadness rather than anger, condemns him completely with the wish: "May you live forever."

That's another scene that's been on my mind. I too consider it a curse: long life is a sentence for a being monstrous in both body and soul. Survival at any cost is no value to a good man.

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I don't think that Romantic as a description, by itself, captures the whole nature of this film. I would describe it as a Romantic parable. I don't think it can be confused with Romantic realism, for instance.

A Romantic realist depiction of this story is either not possible, or if it is, it might not be too inspiring today; because it would necessarily have to include a cultural context with more accurate concretes and more developed characters. But, assuming that the heroism of the Spartans would still be the theme, the realism part of the equation would undermine their depiction as heroic.

That is because a more realistic portrayal, even if Romanticized, could not fail to acknowledge that the economic basis of the culture was slavery, its social nature was rigid conformity, and its politics were a very early version of the rule of law. But since Greek culture in general was far superior to Persian culture, the story, done as it is in this film, is (I think) the best approach to it.

I have to disagree. "Realism" does not mean a work of art must be faithful to historical fact. Just as it does not mean one must include the weaknesses of an historic figure, neither does it mean one must include the weaknesses of an historic culture. "Realism" in this context is not faithful reproduction of happenstance. That is the requirement of a documentary or a "newsreel" - ie 'journalistic realism', not 'romantic realism'.

As Miss Rand identified it, the method of Romantic Realism is "to make life more beautiful and interesting than it actually is, yet give it all the reality, and even a more convincing reality than that of our everyday existence." (Letters of Ayn Rand; pg 243). I have to say that "300" certainly achieved those ends - and did so with sublime brilliance.

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(Brian Smith @ Mar 14 2007, 01:56 PM)

*MORE SPOILERS AHEAD

(Mercury @ Mar 14 2007, 12:31 PM)

This was, in my opinion, the most significant point in the movie. Philosophically, it linked mysticism and altruism (religion puts a man on his knees); thematically, it summed up everything, making even the practice of discarding deformed babies seem understandable.

I also think it tied in beautifully with another scene, near the end, when the King, facing his imminent death, turns to this traitorous hunchback - this creature willing to prostrate himself to others - and, with sadness rather than anger, condemns him completely with the wish: "May you live forever."

That's another scene that's been on my mind. I too consider it a curse: long life is a sentence for a being monstrous in both body and soul. Survival at any cost is no value to a good man.

Long life is a sentence for someone who betrayed his values.

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I have to disagree. "Realism" does not mean a work of art must be faithful to historical fact. Just as it does not mean one must include the weaknesses of an historic figure, neither does it mean one must include the weaknesses of an historic culture. "Realism" in this context is not faithful reproduction of happenstance. That is the requirement of a documentary or a "newsreel" - ie 'journalistic realism', not 'romantic realism'.

As Miss Rand identified it, the method of Romantic Realism is "to make life more beautiful and interesting than it actually is, yet give it all the reality, and even a more convincing reality than that of our everyday existence." (Letters of Ayn Rand; pg 243). I have to say that "300" certainly achieved those ends - and did so with sublime brilliance.

Professional warriors were the aspect of Sparta's culture around which the entire culture revolved. And, while they served the important function of staving off a negative, i.e. assault and takeover by foreigners, they could not produce the positive goods needed for survival. And slavery, and a rigid social structure, were the means by which the warriors and politicians were supported in Sparta.

The basis of the economy of an entire state, whether it is a weakness (like slavery) or a strength (like voluntary productivity), or some mix of these, is an important characteristic of a state, not a happenstance. This is a context that could not be rationally ignored by a Romantic realist, as if it were some non-essential unpleasantness of the culture or historical period like, say, primitive bathroom facilities.

I think that the story had value, but not as Romantic realism. With the exceptions of the outstanding visual aspects, and very good acting, I disagree that the film - as a whole - did "make life more beautiful and interesting than it actually is, yet give it all the reality, and even a more convincing reality than that of our everyday existence." (Letters of Ayn Rand. p. 243). [bold added.] In order for a viewer to find the reality convincing, he has to ignore what were, in fact, important characteristics of the Spartan State.

This was most apparent in the absence of the portrayal of any means of survival by the Spartan people. Leonidas gave a bag of gold to the priests to appease them. Where did the gold come from? What, aside from defense, made it possible for the citizens of Sparta to survive and supply their king with gold? How was the (remarkably benevolently-portrayed) private domestic life of Spartan citizens supported?

A Romantic realist would have to show some answer to these questions. And not just any answer, but the correct answer, i.e. that the essential value of the state, its warriors, were supported primarily by slavery. But that answer was not shown (thank man); which is why I judge this film to be a Romantic parable -- and not Romantic realism.

I really believe that the only relevance of this story to modern culture is, basically, the parts that were portrayed. And it was certainly worth telling the story in the way it was told. In other words, there would have been no point whatever in bringing in the reality of the slavery in Sparta. But what this means to me, is that the essence of the story itself cannot be stretched to mean more than it does, i.e. it is a story that is good, but of limited value in this sense: The material is not good enough for Romantic realism. Only so much could be done with it, and no more. And it was done, and the result was about as good as any story of that battle can ever be.

I can think of a much better story of an ancient Greek battle that has everything needed for a Romantic realist drama, which would have to be a tragedy. But that's another topic.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

I think that the story had value, but not as Romantic realism. With the exceptions of the outstanding visual aspects, and very good acting, I disagree that the film - as a whole - did "make life more beautiful and interesting than it actually is, yet give it all the reality, and even a more convincing reality than that of our everyday existence."
See, that is exactly what I got from the film. This isn't life as it was, but as it could be and ought to be.
Leonidas gave a bag of gold to the priests to appease them. Where did the gold come from? What, aside from defense, made it possible for the citizens of Sparta to survive and supply their king with gold? How was the (remarkably benevolently-portrayed) private domestic life of Spartan citizens supported?
Are you criticizing the movie for not showing a full-fledged theory of proper government? That may be fine for an essay, but what does that have to do with the central conflict? In fact, Spartans had far more freedom than the Persians, and that is made clear in the movie: contrast Xerxes absolute monarchy with the ruling council in Sparta, with the need to debate (and which could overrule Leonidas' decisions; remember he didn't "officially" lead an army; he was out for a walk with bodyguards). That Sparta wasn't, in fact, 100% laissez-faire is irrelevant. (Since there's never been such a nation, would that mean every movie would have to explain why the society is not free?)

I disagree with this approach to criticizing art. The fact that some aspects of the story are not explained is in the nature of the beast; we never, for instance, see John Galt's childhood, or his parents and grandparents, or what happens to Hank after the end of the novel (does he meet some lady, or end up alone?). Do Dagny and Galt have kids? Some premises and background of the story have to be taken for granted or at least left offstage, or else you'd end up with an endless regression and have to cover every detail. It's impossible for a story to be all-encompassing in that sense. What's necessary is providing enough context for the plot to progress and to establish the central theme(s). It's important for the artist to essentialize, to keep the story moving by cutting out extraneous details. Does it matter to Atlas Shrugged whether Dagny ever has kids?

A Romantic realist would have to show some answer to these questions. And not just any answer, but the correct answer, i.e. that the essential value of the state, its warriors, were supported primarily by slavery. But that answer was not shown (thank man); which is why I judge this film to be a Romantic parable -- and not Romantic realism.
Which authors aside from Ayn Rand would meet that standard?

Do we have to restrict the selection of historical dramas to actual situations, without creating characters that didn't exist or using dialogue that wasn't documented? After all, creating such things wouldn't be "realistic" according to your argument. If not, which facts can be kept and which discarded?

Heck, let's take it a step further. There's no such thing as automobile motors that run on static electricity. Thus, any novel that uses such things could be romantic, but not romantic realism.

With all due respect, I think a number of Objectivists are confused on the meaning of romantic realism. As I recall, the reason for qualifying "romanticism" with "realism" is to connect the projection of an ideal to reality, specifically to the nature of man as such, as opposed to romanticism caught up with . I think the meaning you've presented here confuses realism with naturalism.

Now my love of this movie doesn't depend on whether the movie is romanticism or romantic realism. Given the inclusion of fantasy creatures, I'd say that the movie isn't romantic realism, though it is heavily romantic.

(And Rose, please don't take my criticism personally; I'm frustrated that so many who should know better are denouncing a great work of art.)

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With the exceptions of the outstanding visual aspects, and very good acting, I disagree that the film - as a whole - did "make life more beautiful and interesting than it actually is, yet give it all the reality, and even a more convincing reality than that of our everyday existence." (Letters of Ayn Rand. p. 243). [bold added.] In order for a viewer to find the reality convincing, he has to ignore what were, in fact, important characteristics of the Spartan State.
I do not see the difference between this idea of 'realism' and 'journalistic realism'. (Note - the fact that a journalist focuses upon "important characteristics" rather than "non-essential" things like "primitive bathroom facilities" doesn't make his work any less journalistic.)

Put simply, I disagree with the assertion that if supposedly 'essential' historical facts 'contradict' a fictional story, then the story cannot be considered "Romantic Realism". Realism in this context is not the focus upon and adherence to the journalistically 'important' facts - ie reality 'as as it really was'. Again, "Romantic Realism" does not mean journalism - historic or otherwise.

I see no difference between the argument presented here and many other arguments which have been presented against the film. They all boil down to one complaint: that the film wasn't naturalistic enough in some particular respect. In other words, the film did not present some aspect of reality 'as it 'really' was'. And, because it fails to faithfully document these supposedly 'salient' facts of history, it cannot be considered "Romantic Realism."

While I would agree that such selective focus and stylization disqualifies such a work from any naturalistic form of 'realism' I must strongly disagree that it disqualifies it from the romantic form of 'realism'. I would argue that it is what makes it Romantic Realism.

As I indicated in the other thread on "300," if adherence to known historic fact is the standard of Romantic Realism then one must strike brilliant art like "Cyrano de Bergerac" (and a host of other works) from the category of "Romantic Realism" as well. The 'essential' facts of the historic figure's life are not those of the play. The events and personal character of the fictional Cyrano are primarily the creation of Rostand. As such, if one knows the history of the actual man, then in order to find the play's "reality convincing" one has to "ignore what were, in fact, important characteristics" of the real Cyrano. And, according to the principle presented here, that would disqualify "Cyrano" from the category of "Romantic Realism".

I believe the idea of 'realism' being put forth here substitutes a journalistic approach to reality for what is properly a selectively focused and stylized approach to reality. It substitutes a naturalistic approach to reality in art for a romantic approach to reality in art.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

See, that is exactly what I got from the film. This isn't life as it was, but as it could be and ought to be.

Are you criticizing the movie for not showing a full-fledged theory of proper government?

No. And in fact, as I said, I would have no interest in seeing the reality of Sparta shown here. It would not allow the film to focus on the heroism, which it does well.

However, to meet the standard of Romantic realist art, what is shown about what "should be and ought to be" must be logically possible in a reality that is logical.

That may be fine for an essay, but what does that have to do with the central conflict? In fact, Spartans had far more freedom than the Persians, and that is made clear in the movie: contrast Xerxes absolute monarchy with the ruling council in Sparta, with the need to debate (and which could overrule Leonidas' decisions; remember he didn't "officially" lead an army; he was out for a walk with bodyguards). That Sparta wasn't, in fact, 100% laissez-faire is irrelevant. (Since there's never been such a nation, would that mean every movie would have to explain why the society is not free?)

That depends on the theme of the film. If the theme is heroism in a fight for freedom, then I think that the status (more or less free) of a culture matters in regard to how objectively convincing this theme can be.

Also, I never once argued that the Persians were equal to or better than the Greeks. In fact, I have said they were worse. I am seeing a lot of strawmen here, and nothing to justify me in re-classifying this film as anything other than a Romantic parable. (And why on earth it has to be anything else I have yet to see any good reasons for).

I disagree with this approach to criticizing art. The fact that some aspects of the story are not explained is in the nature of the beast; we never, for instance, see John Galt's childhood, or his parents and grandparents, or what happens to Hank after the end of the novel (does he meet some lady, or end up alone?). Do Dagny and Galt have kids? Some premises and background of the story have to be taken for granted or at least left offstage, or else you'd end up with an endless regression and have to cover every detail. It's impossible for a story to be all-encompassing in that sense. What's necessary is providing enough context for the plot to progress and to establish the central theme(s). It's important for the artist to essentialize, to keep the story moving by cutting out extraneous details.

But I agree with you here. And I think the story of 300 is good, and its theme, acting, visuals, etc. But I have said this already, and I can't see why that is being ignored. The only thing I that I do not accept is that the film is Romantic realism.

Which authors aside from Ayn Rand would meet that standard?

Do we have to restrict the selection of historical dramas to actual situations, without creating characters that didn't exist or using dialogue that wasn't documented? After all, creating such things wouldn't be "realistic" according to your argument. If not, which facts can be kept and which discarded?

This is a complete misunderstanding of my (fairly simple) point, as well as attributing ideas to me that would never occur to me. The standard is: logical possiblity in a logical reality.
Heck, let's take it a step further. There's no such thing as automobile motors that run on static electricity. Thus, any novel that uses such things could be romantic, but not romantic realism.

With all due respect, I think a number of Objectivists are confused on the meaning of romantic realism. As I recall, the reason for qualifying "romanticism" with "realism" is to connect the projection of an ideal to reality, specifically to the nature of man as such, as opposed to romanticism caught up with . I think the meaning you've presented here confuses realism with naturalism.

With all due respect, more strawmen. The pattern of scientific discoveries leading to amazing things has been established for hundreds of years now. That is a logical possibility.

Now my love of this movie doesn't depend on whether the movie is romanticism or romantic realism. Given the inclusion of fantasy creatures, I'd say that the movie isn't romantic realism, though it is heavily romantic.

(And Rose, please don't take my criticism personally; I'm frustrated that so many who should know better are denouncing a great work of art.)

But you see, I am not denouncing it. And not incidentally, I gave this film an 8 for artistic merit. I'm not sure how anyone can consider that a negative assessment. Does my failure to be as personally devoted a fan as yourself and others here, qualify as denouncement? Odd idea.

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...to meet the standard of Romantic realist art, what is shown about what "should be and ought to be" must be logically possible in a reality that is logical.
I have seen no argument presented which demonstrates "300" violated this standard. What act shown in the film was not "logically possible"? What 'illogical' reality was created in the film?

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I do not see the difference between this idea of 'realism' and 'journalistic realism'. (Note - the fact that a journalist focuses upon "important characteristics" rather than "non-essential" things like "primitive bathroom facilities" doesn't make his work any less journalistic.)

Put simply, I disagree with the assertion that if supposedly 'essential' historical facts 'contradict' a fictional story, then the story cannot be considered "Romantic Realism". Realism in this context is not the focus upon and adherence to the journalistically 'important' facts - ie reality 'as as it really was'. Again, "Romantic Realism" does not mean journalism - historic or otherwise.

I see no difference between the argument presented here and many other arguments which have been presented against the film. They all boil down to one complaint: that the film wasn't naturalistic enough in some particular respect. In other words, the film did not present some aspect of reality 'as it 'really' was'. And, because it fails to faithfully document these supposedly 'salient' facts of history, it cannot be considered "Romantic Realism."

And I do not understand why it seems so important to consider this film Romantic realism when it isn't.

While I would agree that such selective focus and stylization disqualifies such a work from any naturalistic form of 'realism' I must strongly disagree that it disqualifies it from the romantic form of 'realism'. I would argue that it is what makes it Romantic Realism.

Selective focus and stylization, while necessary, is not sufficient to classify a work of art as Romantic realism. Wallpaper can have selective focus and stylization. That doesn't make it Romantic realist art.

As I indicated in the other thread on "300," if adherence to known historic fact is the standard of Romantic Realism then one must strike brilliant art like "Cyrano de Bergerac" (and a host of other works) from the category of "Romantic Realism" as well. The 'essential' facts of the historic figure's life are not those of the play. The events and personal character of the fictional Cyrano are primarily the creation of Rostand. As such, if one knows the history of the actual man, then in order to find the play's "reality convincing" one has to "ignore what were, in fact, important characteristics" of the real Cyrano. And, according to the principle presented here, that would disqualify "Cyrano" from the category of "Romantic Realism".

I believe the idea of 'realism' being put forth here substitutes a journalistic approach to reality for what is properly a selectively focused and stylized approach to reality. It substitutes a naturalistic approach to reality in art for a romantic approach to reality in art.

I am not interested in adherence to historic fact, but in adherence to logic, particularly in regard to the theme of the film, which I understood to be a heroic fight for freedom. And the freedom in the film was freedom relative to the Persians, which is good enough for that time, and good enough for a good story about these heroes.

But for a modern audience, showing the reality of how this relative freedom depended on slavery would have undermined the theme. As a consequence, beyond military self-defense, there is no logic that one can see regarding how this culture was supporting itself in freedom. And it is the absence of a logical explanation for how this state was free that places it, as far as I am concerned, outside the realm of Romantic realism, and in the realm of Romantic parable.

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I wonder if the problem here isn't a matter of logic, but of historical context. The importance of the Battle of Thermopylae was the role it played in keeping the new ideas about the individual and freedom alive in Greece. That Sparta was supported by the Helots was nothing new in a world where every civilization was supported by slavery. What made Greece different was that it had come to recognize, in however a limited way, the value of the individual and of the importance of freedom of the individual.

While it was the Spartans who stood at Thermopylae, they did so in the name of a coalition of Greek city states, including Athens. Factually, they were not alone in that battle; Themistocles and a small armada stood off the passage to keep the Persian fleet from going behind the Spartans. That in no way lessens the actions of the Spartans, who knew they were buying time for the rest of the coalition to ready themselves for battle. Thermopylae was a delaying action in a much bigger war, and they knew it. That is what made their stand so remarkable. In that context, the essential difference between Greece and Persia isn't which civilization had the more benign ruler of all he surveyed, but of a civilization which carried with it the nascent ideas important to all subsequent Western history--especially the idea of the individual as a free agent--against the prominent (even today) idea that man belongs to the collective (leaving out who rules the collective). Within that context, I would classify the movie as Romantic realism.

My dictionary defines a parable as: COMPARISON; speif : a usu. short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle. I do not see that a movie based on an actual event, as a work of art, can be classified as a parable. The position of the Spartans was not allegorical, but actual.

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