Snyder's Shameless (and Shameful) 300 Film
What's all the hype about? Not much if you ask me, but enough if you ask the majority of critics, and damn plenty if you ask the outraged Iranians.
I saw the film last Friday, but wasn't planing on reviewing it since there isn't much to review: it's an extended video-war and not much else. We get the Battle of Thermopyle served up graphic-novel style, which is arresting at first, but gets old fast. There's way too much slo-mo -- as if every thrust and parry is an act of artistry -- and the gore, commendable in itself, is too comicly portrayed to have dramatic impact. The ending is anti-climactic; the epilogue a rip-off of Braveheart's. The prominent role given to Leonides' queen turns out to be a wasted opportunity, pressed into a ridiculous side-story that insults the viewer's intelligence. I think the oracle's nipple-dance is what impressed me most in the entire movie.
Worth reviewing, however, is the strong reaction from Iran where the film has been banned. Iranians are affronted by Snyder's film because, they say, it insults their heritage and declares war on them. MSN reports:
"'Hollywood declares war on Iranians,' blared a headline in Tuesday’s edition of the independent Ayende-No newspaper... Javad Shamghadri, cultural adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the United States tries to 'humiliate' Iran in order to reverse historical reality and 'compensate for its wrongdoings in order to provoke American soldiers and warmongers' against Iran."Never underestimate the power of humiliation in shame-based cultures. Iran feels globally shamed, and Time even has an article by one of the offended, Adadeh Moaveni:
"All of Tehran was outraged. Everywhere I went yesterday, the talk vibrated with indignation over the film 300... Iranians buzzed with resentment at the film's depictions of Persians, adamant that the movie was secretly funded by the U.S. government to prepare Americans for going to war against Iran... Agreeing that 300 is egregious drivel is fairly easy. I'm relatively mellow as Iranian nationalists go, and even I found myself applauding when the government spokesman described the film as fabrication and insult. Iranians view the Achaemenid empire as a particularly noble page in their history and cannot understand why it has been singled out for such shoddy cinematic treatment."Well, we have an easier time laughing off "egregious drivel" than people like Moaveni. Nonsense is taken quite seriously in honor-shame societies, and I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this bit.
(Perhaps Chris Heard will review the film if he sees it.)