March 12th, 2007


The 300

Level One: This is a beautiful, beautiful film, with lots of great shots and cinematography.  It's like watching an animated Frank Frazetta painting at times.  I could have watched the oracle dancing for hours.  I could have stood a few more war elephants.  Did they play fast and loose with history?  Hell yes.  For one, the Spartans did not have their lives dictated by a band of misshapen mutant creatures living high atop a mountain licking nubile young women.  Gorgeous, though.  And a very manly movie, but plenty of well-muscled men in leather loincloths and cloaks action going on.

Level Two: This is a propaganda film, and it makes no bones about it, with its frequent declarations along the lines of "Freedom isn't free" and its repeated assertion that it is glorious to die in battle.  The Persians (we know them nowadays as Iranians, and the costuming emphasizes this origin) are heavily loaded with additional meanings, touching on, as far as I can tell, every white middle-class American fear they could find.  Xerxes is loaded with bling, make-up, and a heavy touch of homo-eroticism.  In one scene, standing behind G.I. Joe King Leonidas, resting his hands on the king's shoulders, he purrs out this comment about his followers, "It is not the whip they fear" and from the nervous titter that ran around the theater at that point, we all knew what they really feared - the rod. Even the genetically imperfect are villains in the end.  Ugh.  It's very unsubtle.

At the point where someone's child is killed with him in battle and he says he does not regret the death but the fact that he never told the kid he loved him best, I wanted to barf.

In reply, Wilfrid Owen said it better than I ever can:

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace 
Behind the wagon that we flung him in, 
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, 
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; 
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, 
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory, 
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est 
Pro patria mori.


The first third of "The Surgeon's Tale" is up at Subterranean here, with the next two coming out at weekly intervals (I think).

And, very coolly, Escape Pod bought my entry to their flash contest, "Up the Chimney". My Clarion West class had used the contest as a spur, so we ended up with a bunch of us submitting stuff - think we're up to five sales from the batch so far, and it's been a lot of fun to root for the stuff we critted and see them moving up.