A catholic in dialogue

Frank Miller’s 300

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I watched “300″ on cable TV and was impressed. It was after all a Frank Miller comic rendered for the screen. The story was based on the famous Battle of Thermopylae which I’ve read about in the Elementary and translated from a Latin exercise book when I was in college. Three hundred men stops an Empire. Now that is really something to get inspired about. It is like Gideon’s hand-picked soldiers scoring in the battle field against the enemies thousands.

Last night I saw the “300″ comic book on which the movie was based. Except for the scenes which included Leonidas’ wife Gordo, the movie completely reproduces what was in the comic book: from Leonidas kicking the Persian emissary into a Pit to the lifeless body of Leonidas pinned down by a hundred arrows to a ground covered with Spartan dead.

The movie 300 was based on the comic book. There is no doubt about it. And Frank Miller has no qualms admitting that he rewrote the story of Leonidas and his 300 men. The historical event after all did not only include 300 men under Leonidas, there were also a thousand slaves involved and some volunteers from the Greeks. And Xerxes was not that 9 foot tall giant that appeared on the screen with bangles on his face and body.

There were many things that Frank Miller did not say about the Spartans in his comic book. After all his intent was to show bravery. The comic book itself was a feast for the eyes occassioned by a heroic story. To take the movie then as a documentary of the Battle of Thermopylae is to lose the point.

One of the additions into the movie was the speech of Dilos about a new age dawning where no oppressive mysticism will dominate a world of reason and freedom. Miller had said in an interview that it was not his desire to make the 300 a commentary on contemporary times. But the comic book and movie version does highlight the “secular” character of the 300 vis-a-vis the religious-mystical characteristic of Xerxes and his horde (something that our history books do not even show). Was the additional speech at the end of the movie alluding to something real, that is, the rise of another secularistic ideology that ranges itself against a religious-mystical world-view?

Frank Miller’s 300 comic book is downloadable from here.


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