Saturday, March 24, 2007

We saw "300" -- I give it a 275

Unlike most critics, I think the movie "300" has a lot going for it. I went because Lenny wanted to see it, and I knew nothing about it. My main impressions as I watched were: first, I thought the dialog was wooden and the music inappropriate; second, I really liked the visuals but they often seemed small for the big screen at the theater. Who finally gets to a movie theater and then wishes to be watching on a small screen?

When I realized afterwards that the film was based on a graphic novel, those impressions really made sense. The dark sketchy scenes, the outlined scenes, the exaggerated mountain vistas (probably really like in Greece), the ships swamped by waves: all graphic.

Generally, I liked the action very much in its slo-mo, jerky stylizations. The boy Leonidas fights a wolf in a series of shots of snarling teeth and fearful spear gestures. When Leonidas climbs the mountain to see the oracle, it's a series of silhouettes with a rock falling or a missed footing. The oracle herself dances in a terrific, stylized way with outlines and swirly lines around her -- graphic novel, yes.

I liked the costumes, especially the helmets which look like the ones they dig up all around the Mediterranean. I have seen Greek helmets and armor in museums and Greek vase painting, so I know they didn't actually engage in spear battles dressed only in tighty-whities (black ones, I admit...) and red capes. Needless to say, I know that the Persians didn't ride on Star-Wars type rhinos and that Xerxes the king of Persia probably didn't wear sci-fi jewelry and eye makeup into battle. And wasn't the same size as Hagrid. But I forgive all these details.

When we got home, Len googled and found that many of the details match real history as written by Herodotus. I won't go into detail. All in all, we liked it for itself alone -- and don't mind that if the rest of the members of the audience had brought their parents we would probably still have been the oldest ones present.

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