economy has gone to hell, but you can still afford to splurge on the
latest in High Definition treats. The CHUD Home Entertainment Team has
taken upon themselves to draft the Top 25 Blu-Rays released in Region A
thus far. From the 1st of December until Christmas, we’ll count down to
the greatest Blu-Ray release of all-time. Join us and marvel at the
treasures of the 1080p set.
LIST POSITION: #20
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Stephen McHattie, Rodrigo Santoro
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WHY IT’S ON THE LIST
A great man once said that what is best in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
He’d have creamed his loincloth if he’d gotten to see 300.
You know that old saying “History is written by the victors”? Whoever said that forgot to add the caveat “….and future generations will make it as ridiculously awesome as they want.” Sure, Thermopylae actually happened and a lot of dudes died, some of them even did it with nobility and all that, but this film has as accurate a representation of the Battle of Thermopylae as Jocelyn Wildenstein has an accurate representation of a face. This is six degrees separated from an accurate representation.
As such, it’s always surprised me that of all things to get uppity about in this film, a lot of people pick on the film’s politics. I’ll grant you, Snyder doesn’t help, allowing that lunkheaded “Freedom isn’t free” line to slip from Queen Gorgo, but the rest of the film trots right along without bringing modern American rhetoric into the mix. And I suppose if you’re Iranian, 300 picked a bad time to take a piss from a great height on what was already not your country’s finest hour. However, this is not necessarily the film or the filmmaker’s intent. There’s only one intent behind this story. And that is badassery.
Any synopsis of the film will tell you it’s about a group of Spartans who are forced to hold a tiny ass-crack of a battlefield against a Persian army for a few days. There’s a crucial ingredient missing here, possibly THE crucial ingredient. This is David Wenham’s Stelios TELLING the story of the 300 Spartans who fought the Persian army. The framing device for the whole film is based on a grandiose, impassioned, elaborate storyteller telling his tale to soldiers going to war, to politicians who will decide whether a military sacrifice is worthwhile, and in the end, an entire nation of soldiers who have, because of his story, decided to stand up to defend their country. The backdrop to this film is almost non-existent compared to what the story itself is made to inspire in its audience. That vital warrior’s pride that where you’re from, what you’re about, and what you’re doing is good and right, and anyone looking to disrupt that will get fucked up beyond compare. And the simplicity of that ideal, of taking pride in where you come from, and being prepared to ruin an opposing force’s shit for great justice, is being embellished to the nth degree. People are sculpted from bronze. Animals are gargantuan. Fierce warriors are mutants. Persians god-kings are pimps. Far reaching exaggerations meant to amplify the warriors’ triumph.
Basically, 300 is Big Fish for jocks. It’s on the list because just like that film, there is not a single second of Stelios’ story that is not dripping with the wildly beautiful machinations of how one man chooses to tell an already incredible tale. But in this case, the inspiration is less Norman Rockwell, more Michaelangelo. Where the aforementioned Speed Racer was a living cartoon, 300 is a Renaissance painting brought to vivid, brutal life. Pause any given frame, hang it up somewhere, eventually, Dan Brown will come sniffing around it for story ideas. It’s a thing of true beauty. And don’t get it twisted, kids, that includes the grain on the image. Despite being a 98% greenscreen affair, 300 is another disc that deals in intentional dirt all in aid of enhancing that look of something ancient, glorious, and reverent.
The end result of 300, even more so than the comic that spawned it, is a film that is closer to the spectacle ancient storytellers, especially the Greeks who were possibly even MORE over the top in their writing than Frank Miller was. The imagery, the need to raise the exploits of heroes into legend is old. The film is probably the first time anyone’s truly put that aesthetic in motion. The Blu Ray simply grants it the grandest stage in which to play out.
WHY DIDN’T IT RANK HIGHER?
There aren’t many complaints to be had with either release of this film, but if I had to reach, I’d say its kind of a shame Zack Snyder never did live commentary for this like he did for the Watchmen Blu Ray. It would’ve been the perfect little cherry on top, but instead, like it does way too often, BD-Live goes to waste.
THE BEST SUPPLEMENT
Every studio has their little specialized way to get you closer to the movie and all that happy horseshit, but Maximum Movie Mode is one of the few studio-branded Blu Ray gimmicks that’s truly worthwhile, since the director, not the technology is truly at the center of this thing, and having a specialized version of the movie designed to let Zack Snyder himself guide you through what he wants to highlight, on top of the traditional audio commentary already ported over from the disc and the visual guide to the graphic novel over the normal film is pretty much as aces as it gets.
One of the two hints of boob in this sausage fest of a movie.
2000 years later and Persians still think that this is acceptable decor.
Who gets him first?