My thoughts on “300”
Oh the rebellious heart of an idolatrous world.
The only good thing I can say about “300” is that I got to see it in a dollar theater in Boise… so I only wasted $1 instead of $10 and I didn’t have to do it in LA. More than anything I was saddened by the film. I was disheartened that people paid $200,000,000 to see it, some more than once. I couldn’t help but think what Francis Schaeffer would say about such a film. For those that aren’t familiar with Schaeffer, he was a fantastic critic of culture. He traced the presuppositions that people live by as they manifest themselves first in philosophy, then in art, then in music and general culture, and finally in theology.
To me, “300” said a lot about the world we live in. It said that people don’t care about meaning, they don’t care about art, they don’t care about story, they care about tittilation. Its pointless to explain that the film contained no craft of storytelling, no art of acting, that it made no attempt to appeal to anything beyond the carnality of its viewers, because everyone knows that and they willingly submit to the spectacle. Saturday Morning Cartoons show a higher degree of craft and art than “300.”
What the film did say was blunt and ugly. A civilization that worships war by killing the weak at birth* recieves no rebuke but rather praise, praise for glorifying the self, for refusing to submit. A civilization that knows nothing but war and death is the beacon of hope for viewers.
Mighty Sparta takes a stand for liberty, for freedom!
“We are with you sire! For Sparta, for freedom, to the death!”
“I am here for all those voices which cannot be heard: mothers, daughters, fathers, sons (like the ones they throw off the cliff at birth) – three hundred families that bleed for our rights, and for the very principles this room was built upon. We are at war, gentlemen. We must send the entire Spartan army to aid our king in the preservation of not just ourselves, but of our children. Send the army for the preservation of liberty. Send it for justice. Send it for law and order. Send it for reason.”
“My children, gather round! No retreat, no surrender; that is Spartan law and by Spartan law we will stand and fight… and die. A new age has begun. An age of freedom, and all will know, that 300 Spartans gave their last breaths to defend it!”
Praising Sparta for defending liberty is akin to praising Hitler for the 15th Amendment. (http://www.mises.org/story/2300) Nothing regarding truth here, merely emotional roars… not very mighty ones at that.
Then there’s the “subtle” theme of the film: Spartans, the logicians, the creators of reason took a stand against the mysticism of the world. Only 300 strong at first, but now 40,000 strong, this age of reason will succeed in conquering irrational faith once and for all.
“Yet they stare now across the plain at 10,000 Spartans commanding 30,000 free Greeks! Ho! The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one! Good odds for any Greek. This day we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny, and usher in a future brighter than anything we could imagine. Give thanks, men, to Leonidas and the brave 300! To victory!”
“We are at war, gentlemen. We must send the entire Spartan army to aid our king in the preservation of not just ourselves, but of our children. Send the army for the preservation of liberty. Send it for justice. Send it for law and order. Send it for reason.”
There are several other references to Sparta as the beacons and defenders of reason and logic that I can’t find the quotes for. Xerxes praises Leonidas for Sparta’s logic when they meet face to face.
The references are clear. Xerxes is referred to by the Biblical titles of King of Kings and Lord of Hosts. He is the object of faith for all those who submit, for all those who refuse to stand for reason, for all those who abandon logic and kneel at the feet of “mysticism” – whatever form it may take, anything other than atheism. Leonidas stands for free Greece. He was the true Savior (as the film’s imagery depicts him – the high angle of his dead body) of the world, of reason and freedom from the tyrannical control of irrational mysticism.
“300” glorifies man’s refusal to submit to anything other than his autonomous self. It glorifies a life dedicated to death in the name of depraved reason. It glorifies the death of art in cinema. And it glorifies the rebellious heart of an idolatrous filmgoing public who refuses to submit to the soveriegn control of an Almighty God.
*The whole opening sequence regarding the treatment of males from birth in Sparta is true http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/182260/the_true_story_behind_300_and_spartas.html