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

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.

This is very well said, and I could possibly be persuaded by this argument. But I would like to expand on why I chose Romantic "parable." First, there was a lot of fiction in this film, regardless of the fact that the basis for the story was an actual event.

Also, the length (usually short, but not always) is not an essential characteristic of a parable. And I think that the reason that parables are often short, is because prior to Objectivism, unambiguous morality (as this film certainly shows) was usually the communication of a religious morality. And since there is often little behind religious morality, aside from commandments, for which no explanation is necessary, it would not be surprising if the communication of that morality didn't take long, since one's main task would be to repeat some commandment in story form.

However, if the morality is more objective (as in this film), a parable would not be merely illustrating a commandment, and would require more by way of support and explanation, and thus could easily require more time to illustrate properly.

Finally, although the definition says "religious" principle, I took this to mean moral principle, because there has never (before Objectivism) been any other influential source of morality than (directly or indirectly) religion. And, this film was nothing if not an illustration of moral principle.

This is why I'm classifying it as a Romantic parable.

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I do not understand why it seems so important to consider this film Romantic realism when it isn't.
This assertion assumes as valid the conclusion under dispute. One could just as easily ask: why is it so important to consider this film a Romantic parable when it is not?
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.
In the context of my statements it does. Taking them outside that context (ie outside the context of art) only serves to make a non-sequitor.
I am not interested in adherence to historic fact, but in adherence to logic...
Excellent. Then I repeat my previous question: what was illogical in the film? If contradiction of historic fact is not the supposed violation of logic in the film, then what is? For, according to this standard, if there was no illogic, then there would be no reason to exclude the film from the category of Romantic Realism.
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.

Actually, the fact of Spartan slavery - as well as Spartan brutality, etc - was included in the film. And it did not undermine the theme at all - as you yourself seem to indicate.

In other words, the film did not portray Sparta (or Greece) as anything close to a laissez faire system of freedom. It identified many wrong things - as well as many right things - with their system. What about that is not logical and thus beyond 'realism'?

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.
You do not think the film identified in what ways Sparta was free? Many examples have already been provided to contradict that position. By what standard of freedom do you discount such examples - and how does that standard qualify as 'realism' as opposed to the standard set in the film itself?

It sounds as if your complaint is that Sparta was not free by 'x' standard, historically, and thus it is not 'logical' (ie it contradicts the facts of reality) to claim that these men were fighting for freedom and reason against tyranny and mysticism. As such, it is okay to identify this film as some form of non-realistic fiction (ie a parable or the like) but not okay to identify it as a 'realism'. Because the real Sparta wasn't like that - and so the film cannot be categorized as realism.

If that is your objection, then I have to disagree completely - and would say the entire movie stands against that position.

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This assertion assumes as valid the conclusion under dispute. One could just as easily ask: why is it so important to consider this film a Romantic parable when it is not?

Beyond military self-defense, there is no logic that one can see regarding how this culture was supporting itself as a free state (relative to Persia).

In the context of my statements it does. Taking them outside that context (ie outside the context of art) only serves to make a non-sequitor.

The 'wallpaper' idea was only to illustrate, with an extreme example, why stylization and selective focus are not enough to qualify something as Romantic realism. Art that has these qualities, and yet contains a logical omission in regard to its theme, is not Romantic realism either, regardless of the fact that it is art.

I have explained why I have classified the film as Romantic parable, and am not asking for anyone's agreement. I am explaining why I cannot consider this film as Romantic realism. I consider it to be something along the lines of 'best in its class,' for a class (Romantic parable) which, while it can have great value, cannot (I believe) rise to the level of Romantic realist art due to a logical omission.

Excellent. Then I repeat my previous question: what was illogical in the film? If contradiction of historic fact is not the supposed violation of logic in the film, then what is? For, according to this standard, if there was no illogic, then there would be no reason to exclude the film from the category of Romantic Realism. And it did not undermine the theme at all - as you yourself seem to indicate.

Beyond military self-defense, there is no logic that one can see regarding how this culture was supporting itself as a free state (relative to Persia).

Actually, the fact of Spartan slavery - as well as Spartan brutality, etc - was included in the film.

Only the part about the involuntary nature of the recruitment in Sparta was included -- not the part about how this culture of (relative) freedom was supported -- because to any modern audience, portraying the slavery that supported the soldiers would be understood as a blatant contradiction to claims of freedom, and would undermine the ability of that audience to consider the warriors heroes. On the other hand, if one assumes that the professional warriors were [somehow] supported by a free-market (before there was any such thing) that would be rightly considered as a silly anachronism.

In other words, the film did not portray Sparta (or Greece) as anything close to a laissez faire system of freedom. It identified many wrong things - as well as many right things - with their system. What about that is not logical and thus beyond 'realism'?

Beyond military self-defense, there is no logic that one can see regarding how this culture was supporting itself as a free state (relative to Persia).

You do not think the film identified in what ways Sparta was free? Many examples have already been provided to contradict that position. By what standard of freedom do you discount such examples - and how does that standard qualify as 'realism' as opposed to the standard set in the film itself?

The film showed how Sparta was free relative to the Persians. And I have been arguing that, for this story, and for a Romantic parable, this is enough.

It sounds as if your complaint is that Sparta was not free by 'x' standard, historically, and thus it is not 'logical' (ie it contradicts the facts of reality) to claim that these men were fighting for freedom and reason against tyranny and mysticism. As such, it is okay to identify this film as some form of non-realistic fiction (ie a parable or the like) but not okay to identify it as a 'realism'. Because the real Sparta wasn't like that - and so the film cannot be categorized as realism.

If that is your objection, then I have to disagree completely - and would say the entire movie stands against that position.

However, this is an incorrect characterization of my position.

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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.

A question: looking at the context where the word "sacrifice" is used in the movie, what meaning does it convey? Might Miller be using the proper concept but using a word that to many Objectivists conveys a different meaning?

I have had countless conversations with people who use the word "sacrifice" and upon inquiry most often it turns out that their intended meaning is not the surrender of a higher value for a lesser one. A typical conversation might go like this:

He: My uncle sacrificed his life in World War II.

Me: How did he sacrifice his life?

He: He enlisted in the army as a soldier and he died fighting in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.

Me: Why did he enlist and choose to fight?

He: Because he loved his family and his country and wanted to protect them.

Me: But didn't he love his own life?

He: Oh, yes. He had a passion for living, but he did not want to live in a world where he, his family, and his country were ruled by the Nazis.

Me: And that's why he sacrificed his life?

He: Yes.

I have found this sense of "sacrifice" to be quite common usage. In fact, in the OED, after the first two definitions of "sacrifice" (which are given in a religious context, like sacrificing sheep to the Gods) the third definition of the verb "sacrifice is:

To surrender or give up (something) for the attainment of some higher advantage or dearer object.

Is this not the sense of "sacrifice" as Miller used?

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This is very well said, and I could possibly be persuaded by this argument. But I would like to expand on why I chose Romantic "parable." First, there was a lot of fiction in this film, regardless of the fact that the basis for the story was an actual event.

Also, the length (usually short, but not always) is not an essential characteristic of a parable. And I think that the reason that parables are often short, is because prior to Objectivism, unambiguous morality (as this film certainly shows) was usually the communication of a religious morality. And since there is often little behind religious morality, aside from commandments, for which no explanation is necessary, it would not be surprising if the communication of that morality didn't take long, since one's main task would be to repeat some commandment in story form.

However, if the morality is more objective (as in this film), a parable would not be merely illustrating a commandment, and would require more by way of support and explanation, and thus could easily require more time to illustrate properly.

Finally, although the definition says "religious" principle, I took this to mean moral principle, because there has never (before Objectivism) been any other influential source of morality than (directly or indirectly) religion. And, this film was nothing if not an illustration of moral principle.

This is why I'm classifying it as a Romantic parable.

Rose, that a parable is short is part of its essence, or else it would not be included in its definition. It defines a mode of story-telling, as well as the nature of the story itself. A parable is a specific type of fiction, treated in a specific way. You are correct in stating that the movie is about the moral attitude of the Spartans, as against the Persians. The question is: does that fact alone make this a parable (leaving aside, for the moment, the question of length)?

The essence of the fiction in a parable is allegory. An allegory, according to my dictionary is: the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human conduct or experience. A work of art certainly may contain allegorical elements; for instance, I think the hunchback in the movie is just such an element. The same may be said about the stylization in the presentation. Both the allegory and stylization are methods of dramatization, but are not the essence of the story presented. If the movie were made up wholly of characters such as the hunchback, then it might be said to be allegorical, or mythological perhaps, but this is not the case here.

Perhaps another example might be Hugo's 93, which is an historical novel based on the French Revolution. The book contains both actual and fictional characters. It too has allegorical elements. Does that fact change the classification of the book from Romantic Realism to Romantic Parable? You certainly couldn't say that the story was short! Nor is the thrust of the novel itself allegorical.

I can understand the reasons for your choice of definition here, because of the elements noted. But the question to ask is whether or not the essence of the movie is "a short fiction to illustrate a moral attitude". I would say that it has elements of a parable, in that it certainly illustrates a moral attitude. But while the moral attitude is the cause of the action in the story, and thus important, its importance lies in the effect of this moral attitude on the Spartans--to the actions the attitude causes them to take. It is the action taken on the moral precepts accepted by the Spartans that is the gist of the story told in the movie.

By the way, I've found the discussion here enlightening. It has made me ask questions I've never asked before. Perhaps a discussion of the types of dramatic representation, and whether the elements of a story define its classification, would be a good one for the aesthetics forum, using Miss Rand's definition of Romantic Realism as a base of comparison.

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A question: looking at the context where the word "sacrifice" is used in the movie, what meaning does it convey? Might Miller be using the proper concept but using a word that to many Objectivists conveys a different meaning?

I have had countless conversations with people who use the word "sacrifice" and upon inquiry most often it turns out that their intended meaning is not the surrender of a higher value for a lesser one. A typical conversation might go like this:

He: My uncle sacrificed his life in World War II.

Me: How did he sacrifice his life?

He: He enlisted in the army as a soldier and he died fighting in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.

Me: Why did he enlist and choose to fight?

He: Because he loved his family and his country and wanted to protect them.

Me: But didn't he love his own life?

He: Oh, yes. He had a passion for living, but he did not want to live in a world where he, his family, and his country were ruled by the Nazis.

Me: And that's why he sacrificed his life?

He: Yes.

I have found this sense of "sacrifice" to be quite common usage. In fact, in the OED, after the first two definitions of "sacrifice" (which are given in a religious context, like sacrificing sheep to the Gods) the third definition of the verb "sacrifice is:

Is this not the sense of "sacrifice" as Miller used?

I've had many such conversations. In fact, I run into all kinds of trouble over this term. Maybe we could talk about it in the Ethics Forum.

This movie has certainly opened up many areas for discussion. That is a huge statement about the movie in itself!

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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 haven't yet seen the movie, so I can't fully comment on it, but I think it is more than a fictitious story spun out of whole cloth, i.e. a parable. I gather it is largely fictitious, but the battle of Thermopylae was real and this is part of what gives the story its strength. Reality bolsters the movies' theme. It was the reality of the original battle that inspired Frank Miller.

Is heroism like this possible to man on earth? The original battle gives you your answer.

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...it can have great value, cannot (I believe) rise to the level of Romantic realist art due to a logical omission.
The film did not focus on the political constitution of Sparta. Neither did it deny the brutality of Sparta. And it identified the fact of slavery multiple times. Thus there is no "logical omission." The film did not present Sparta as something it was not, by commission nor omission. And, as you seem to admit, they were fighting for freedom and reason against tyranny and mysticism.

To demand more from the film is to demand journalism, not romanticism. As such, I have to reassert my claim that the argument being presented substitutes 'journalism' for 'realism'. In other words, I believe the definition and consequent conditions being applied to the concept 'realism' are erroneous.

Beyond military self-defense, there is no logic that one can see regarding how this culture was supporting itself as a free state (relative to Persia).
A film does not have to "explain" the economy of a society in order to be Romantic Realism, regardless of the theme. The mere fact that Spartan heroes were - as you yourself readily admit - fighting for freedom they would lose if they submitted to the Persians, is more than enough 'logical support' for the theme of the film. The historic realities of its system of slavery, or any other aspect of Spartan life, do not change these facts. And it is not a logical contradiction to focus just on those facts. Nothing else is necessary for the theme. And there is nothing about that theme which requires more - nor places it outside the realm of 'realism'.

Put simply, I challenge the premise that Romantic Realism requires a film whose theme is freedom to "explain" its economic system. That is simply is not a requirement of Romantic Realism. That is a requirement of historic journalism.

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A question: looking at the context where the word "sacrifice" is used in the movie, what meaning does it convey? Might Miller be using the proper concept but using a word that to many Objectivists conveys a different meaning?
The surrender of a lesser value for a greater value is certainly the way I understood Miller to be using the term. I think this was almost made explicit in the last words of the King, as he gave up his life: "My Queen. My wife. My love."

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Another point to make: while I disagree with the assertion that "300" is a parable, what is it about a parable that supposedly excludes it from the category of 'realism'? I dispute the notion that a parable cannot be a category of Romantic Realism. As such, I dispute the fact that classifying "300" as a supposed 'parable' necessarily excludes it from being classified as 'realism'.

In other words, the argument being presented is a false alternative.

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Rose, that a parable is short is part of its essence, or else it would not be included in its definition.

The reference to length is included in the definition that you found, but with the caveat 'usu.' (usually). And in the book I'm using for reference, length is not part of the definition at all, and the explanation following the definition specifically refutes the idea that a parable is an anecdote (an anecdote is defined in the same book as: "A short narrative, detailing an interesting episode or event." A Handbook to Literature 4th ed. ed. C. Hugh Holman. Also, the definition of parable on which I am relying does not include a reference to religion, though religion is referenced when examples of the most famous parables are cited.

It defines a mode of story-telling, as well as the nature of the story itself. A parable is a specific type of fiction, treated in a specific way. You are correct in stating that the movie is about the moral attitude of the Spartans, as against the Persians. The question is: does that fact alone make this a parable (leaving aside, for the moment, the question of length)?

The essence of the fiction in a parable is allegory. An allegory, according to my dictionary is: the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human conduct or experience. A work of art certainly may contain allegorical elements; for instance, I think the hunchback in the movie is just such an element. The same may be said about the stylization in the presentation. Both the allegory and stylization are methods of dramatization, but are not the essence of the story presented. If the movie were made up wholly of characters such as the hunchback, then it might be said to be allegorical, or mythological perhaps, but this is not the case here.

The definition for parable that I'm using is: "An illustrative story answering a question or pointing a moral or lesson." And in the following explanation the text continues: "A true parable, however, is much more than an anecdote since, implicitly at least, it parallels, detail for detail, the situation which calls forth the parable for illustration. A parable is, in this sense, an allegory." Yet a parable is not equivalent to an allegory. And an allegory is, in the same book, specifically differentiated from mere symbolism, which "attempts to suggest other levels of meaning without making a structure of ideas the controlling influence in the work, as it is in allegory."

The main point for me is that I cannot classify the film as Romantic realism, because of the logical problem that I have pointed out, and repeated many times now. Romantic parable is the closest thing to an accurate identification that I have so far, but I'm not adamant about it. It is, to me, a reasonable placeholder; since I can't classify the film as Romantic realism -- if or until the problem I cited is somehow resolved -- though at this point, I don't see how that can be.

Perhaps another example might be Hugo's 93, which is an historical novel based on the French Revolution. The book contains both actual and fictional characters. It too has allegorical elements. Does that fact change the classification of the book from Romantic Realism to Romantic Parable? You certainly couldn't say that the story was short! Nor is the thrust of the novel itself allegorical.

I can understand the reasons for your choice of definition here, because of the elements noted. But the question to ask is whether or not the essence of the movie is "a short fiction to illustrate a moral attitude". I would say that it has elements of a parable, in that it certainly illustrates a moral attitude. But while the moral attitude is the cause of the action in the story, and thus important, its importance lies in the effect of this moral attitude on the Spartans--to the actions the attitude causes them to take. It is the action taken on the moral precepts accepted by the Spartans that is the gist of the story told in the movie.

I have no particular argument with all this, aside from the retention of 'short' as an essential characteristic of a parable.

By the way, I've found the discussion here enlightening. It has made me ask questions I've never asked before. Perhaps a discussion of the types of dramatic representation, and whether the elements of a story define its classification, would be a good one for the aesthetics forum, using Miss Rand's definition of Romantic Realism as a base of comparison.

For me, it's been mostly a matter of attempting to communicate my view, which is an uphill battle, I think because responses to art are so personal and emotionally compelling, and I am clearly not in line with the majority raves. And normally, I say nothing about this, though it is a phenomenon that is common enough for me.

The only reason I chose to discuss it this time, was because I'd wrongly been expecting something else. I can see perfectly well how annoying my view is to those who loved the film. Nevertheless, I felt sad about all the things I thought it might be, but was not. And I console myself with what I know of an ancient-Greek-battle-story that I think would be a little more in line with what I expected, if it were conceived of, written, and presented properly.

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Iranians Outraged by `300' Movie

Iranians rate movie a 0. Let's hope for more riots by those the barbarians.

The hit American movie "300" has angered Iranians who say the Greeks-vs-Persians action flick insults their ancient culture and provokes animosity against Iran.

"Hollywood declares war on Iranians," blared a headline in Tuesday's edition of the independent Ayende-No newspaper.

The movie, which raked in $70 million in its opening weekend, is based on a comic-book fantasy version of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., in which a force of 300 Spartans held off a massive Persian army at a mountain pass in Greece for three days.

Even some American reviewers noted the political overtones of the West-against-Iran story line - and the way Persians are depicted as decadent, sexually flamboyant and evil in contrast to the noble Greeks.

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Put simply, I challenge the premise that Romantic Realism requires a film whose theme is freedom to "explain" its economic system. That is simply is not a requirement of Romantic Realism. That is a requirement of historic journalism.

In the context of this story and film, we disagree about what a Romantic realist approach requires. It is a matter of logic, not journalism, to see how the freedom of a culture fighting for that freedom, is supported. And while I'm just as glad that we do not see the slavery that supports it (because showing it would undermine the heroism), this makes the story something other than Romantic realism to me. The assertion that I'm looking for 'historic journalism' was, is, and continues to be a strawman -- as every single argument against my view has been.

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"An illustrative story answering a question or pointing a moral or lesson."
By this definition, Atlas Shrugged is a "parable" since it is an "illustrative story" which answers the question 'What is the importance of reason?' ("the importance of reason" being its theme) and in answering that question, points to a moral or lesson "...the mind is important and we should live by reason."

I would identify AS as 'Romantic Realism'. But by this definition of parable, it can also be identified as a so-called 'Romantic Parable'. As defined, I see no justification for creating this category 'Romantic Parable' as apart from 'Romantic Realism'.

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[...]The assertion that I'm looking for 'historic journalism' was, is, and continues to be a strawman -- as every single argument against my view has been.

Actually, Janet's argument was not among these. Sorry Janet. Yours is still the most convincing argument to me so far, though it doesn't entirely explain away my main issue.

If my standard were, in fact, historic journalism, I would be disatisfied with the film as a whole and many of its parts. But that not the case, artistically. I thought the film was a good one, well above average - in spite of it not being (in my opinion) Romantic realism - and in spite of the fact that I am not as personally devoted to this film as the majority of posters in this thread have been.

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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.

A question: looking at the context where the word "sacrifice" is used in the movie, what meaning does it convey? Might Miller be using the proper concept but using a word that to many Objectivists conveys a different meaning?

I have had countless conversations with people who use the word "sacrifice" and upon inquiry most often it turns out that their intended meaning is not the surrender of a higher value for a lesser one. A typical conversation might go like this:

[...]

I have found this sense of "sacrifice" to be quite common usage. In fact, in the OED, after the first two definitions of "sacrifice" (which are given in a religious context, like sacrificing sheep to the Gods) the third definition of the verb "sacrifice is:

To surrender or give up (something) for the attainment of some higher advantage or dearer object.

Is this not the sense of "sacrifice" as Miller used?

This is the sense in which I read it, and in which I think he meant it; and thus, why the use of "sacrifice" and "duty" can be easily overlooked in judging the film overall. I agree that many, many people use "sacrifice" as defined in the OED quote you have provided, especially in the West where pleasurable, long-range value-pursuit is a cultural staple.

The reason the sound of the word "sacrifice" stood out to me, I think, owes to how near-perfectly the script portrays the evil of subjugation. Perhaps there are other abstractions used in the film which could have been better concretized, but "subjugation" is not one of them. The consequences of subservience are too well-fleshed here to be mistakable: they mean descent from a Leonidas to an Ephialtes: from a beautiful, proud man with much to live for (and die for) to a pitiable serf with nothing.

Hence my wonder at how Miller's (or the screenwriter responsible for the "kindness" scene) implicit grasp of subjugation was so powerful as to execute that scene, yet somehow not see how "sacrifice" has been used historically, particularly in the Holy Bible.

Another possibility is that the script might be using "sacrifice" in a pre-Christian context, but this is an intepretative stretch.

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I would identify AS as 'Romantic Realism'. But by this definition of parable, it can also be identified as a so-called 'Romantic Parable'. As defined, I see no justification for creating this category 'Romantic Parable' as apart from 'Romantic Realism'.

And my main issue has not been exactly how to classify it, but how I cannot classify it. This is my opinion, I think I have supported it, and that I've seen nothing that convinces me to change it. And I DO change my opinion when I have reason to do so. If I did not change my opinion when I had reason to do so, I would certainly not be an Ayn Rand fan, or a student of Objectivism.

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...we disagree about what a Romantic realist approach requires.
Yes, we do.
It is a matter of logic, not journalism, to see how the freedom of a culture fighting for that freedom, is supported.
No. "Logic" does not require a story to explain a culture's system of "support" for freedom. As has been indicated - and which you have agreed - the film showed that the Spartans would indeed lose their freedom to the Persians. The degree to which their culture was free does not change these facts. As such, it is perfectly "logical" to focus upon those essential facts and only those facts. That "logic" does not somehow throw the film outside the category of 'realism' - and no argument has been presented which provides a reason to explain why it supposedly does.
The assertion that I'm looking for 'historic journalism' was, is, and continues to be a strawman.
In order to identify a film as being in the category of 'realism' your argument demands that the film identify and "explain" particular historic facts. The theme of this film does not require such an explanation. Journalism would require it though - which is why it is not a straw man to identify your standard of 'realism' as historic journalism.

Your argument identifies 'realism' as requiring an explanation for that which is historically factual but which is not necessary for the presentation of the theme. Requiring the inclusion of facts beyond those required by the theme is not romanticism - realistic or otherwise. It is naturalism.

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Sorry, this should have read:

Hence my wonder at how Miller's (or the screenwriter responsible for the "kindness" scene) implicit grasp of subjugation was so powerful as to execute that scene, yet somehow preclude the way in which "sacrifice" has been used historically, particularly in the Holy Bible.

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And my main issue has not been exactly how to classify it, but how I cannot classify it.
Which means you have not actually placed it in a particular category, but have simply excluded it from a particular category. Yet the primary reason provided for placing it outside the category of 'realism' has not been shown to be a requirement of 'realism'. It has, however, been shown to be a function of journalism and naturalism.

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In OPAR, Dr. Peikoff quotes Miss Rand to explain what is meant by "Romantic Realism":

Ayn Rand calls this approach to art, which is her own approach, Romantic Realism. Her novels are true to Aristotle's principle: the world they create truly "might be." "I am Romantic," Ayn Rand has said, "in the sense that I present men as they ought to be. I am Realistic in the sense that I place them here and now and on this earth in terms that apply to every rational reader who shares these values and wants to apply them to himself."
No argument has been put forth here to show how "300" does not present men as they ought to be, in terms that apply to every rational viewer who shares the values of freedom and reason and wants to apply them to himself. As such, the conclusion that "300" is not "Romantic Realism" is simply unsupported.

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No. "Logic" does not require a story to explain a culture's system of "support" for freedom.

In regard to this story, had the storytellers attempted to treat the story as Romantic realism (which treatment I think would be impossible) -- I think that logic would require this.

As has been indicated - and which you have agreed - the film showed that the Spartans would indeed lose their freedom to the Persians. The degree to which their culture was free does not change these facts.

Exactly so. However, if it had been shown how this relative freedom was supported (by the enslavement of Helots) a modern audience would find the speeches about freedom to be preposterous. Or, had some (made up) explanation for how the warriors were supported been shown, it would have been judged a silly anachronism, or some other instance of fantasy or illogic.

Not showing anything avoided the whole issue, but also, left a logical hole, which I think is too big for the standards of Romantic realism. I argue that the economy of a state is critical to its political freedom, and must be shown in some manner in a Romantic realist portrayal of a fight for political freedom.

As such, it is perfectly "logical" to focus upon those essential facts and only those facts. That "logic" does not somehow throw the film outside the category of 'realism' - and no argument has been presented which provides a reason to explain why it supposedly does.

I think that logic does throw the film outside the category of realism, due to the inextricable connection between economics and political freedom.

In order to identify a film as being in the category of 'realism' your argument demands that the film identify and "explain" particular historic facts.

Well, since it is a work of art, there does not have to be any particular fact included. But if ANY explanation of how (relative) freedom is supported is included, it would have to be logical. And in that case the only logical explanation was: slavery. OR, it could have been explained in some fantasy-manner, which would just make it silly. OR it could not be explained at all, which is what was done. But, that leaves a logical hole, due to the inextricable connection between political freedom and economics.

The theme of this film does not require such an explanation.

For the reason stated above (connection between economics & political freedom), if the standard is Romantic realism, I think it does.

Journalism would require it though - which is why it is not a straw man to identify your standard of 'realism' as historic journalism.

I disagree, and think that it is.

Your argument identifies 'realism' as requiring an explanation for that which is historically factual but which is not necessary for the presentation of the theme. Requiring the inclusion of facts beyond those required by the theme is not romanticism - realistic or otherwise. It is naturalism.

It is not naturalism, or a quest for historical accuracy that requires that the economic basis for political freedom be shown -- in some manner -- in a story about a fight for political freedom, if the standard for the art is Romantic realism.

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In regard to this story, had the storytellers attempted to treat the story as Romantic realism (which treatment I think would be impossible) -- I think that logic would require this.
Again, this asserts that providing all these historic details is a requirement of Romantic Realism. It is not. Thus the claim is invalid.
Not showing anything avoided the whole issue, but also, left a logical hole, which I think is too big for the standards of Romantic realism.
It keeps being asserted there is a "logical hole" when in fact there is no hole (except by journalistic standards). It is quite true that the Spartan social system was not "explained". But Romantic Realism does not require such explanation so long as the theme does not require it. And as you have agreed, the theme did not require it.
I think that logic does throw the film outside the category of realism, due to the inextricable connection between economics and political freedom.
It has already been identified that even just on the political front, Sparta was not a properly free society. Those facts don't cause "logic" to throw the film outside the category of realism, any more than an "explanation" of the economic system would throw it out of the category of realism. This "connection" is a non-sequitor to the issue of artistic 'realism'.
I argue that the economy of a state is critical to its political freedom, and must be shown in some manner in a Romantic realist portrayal of a fight for political freedom.
Why? Does the economy change the fact that they are fighting for their freedom? No. Does the economy change the fact that they are right to fight for that freedom? No. Does it change any fact important to the theme of the film? No. The economy is an historic fact that has no bearing on the theme nor the story being told. As such, the demand for it to be included is historic journalism, not romanticism.
But if ANY explanation of how (relative) freedom is supported is included, it would have to be logical.
It would certainly be non-contradictory historically if one included it. But - because it is not necessary to the theme - it is thus contradictory to include it. However, eliminating that contradiction does not make the work of art non-realistic. That is a false definition of the term 'realism'.
It is not naturalism, or a quest for historical accuracy that requires that the economic basis for political freedom be shown
Yes, it is. A story about a fight for political freedom does not require any "explanation" of an economic system at all. The continuing insistence to the contrary does not change this fact.

Artistic realism is not the inclusion of all the logically connected philosophic concepts related to its theme. Realism doesn't even require the inclusion of all aspects of the theme itself. Realism can include works which have a narrow focus on a single aspect of a single virtue. Put simply, the broadness or narrowness of a work's focus does not define its realism - for such focus is not the definition of artistic realism.

The assertion that a certain 'broadness' of focus is required of 'realism' is the source of the disagreement here. Such 'broadness' is not part of the artistic concept of 'realism'.

Realism, in this context, is the presentation of man as he ought to be, in terms that apply to every rational viewer who shares these values and wants to apply them. The heroes of this film - the king and the queen - are certainly presentations of how men should be. And they are presented in a way that applies to every rational viewer.

In other words, as I said previously, it is exactly those things which cause you to identify the film as a parable which actually makes it romantic realism.

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I have not seen the movie. For anyone who has: Does the movie show only the 300 Spartans engaging the Persians at Thermopylae without the assistance of any other Greek tribes?

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