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The International Writers Magazine: Film

Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Gerard Butler

Jack Clarkson

World renowned historian Frank Miller (Sin city, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) enlightens us all on what really happened at the battle of Thermopylae. I am not a history buff myself, but I was certainly fascinated to learn that the Persian army actually used giant armoured Rhinos and that Spartan soldiers could jump twenty feet in the air, their flight presumably powered by Racism… Thank God the Nazi’s didn’t work out how to do that as well, we would be living in a much blonder world today!
All silliness aside. I’ll try to sort every main point out before I get to the history lesson. Historical fact is not what we came to see. What we came to see was quite possibly the gayest film since Brokeback Mountain. The homoeroticism is thick enough to cut with a knife, and it’s obvious that Spears and Swords weren’t the only phallic objects the Spartans were very familiar with! It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just when we hear the Spartans calling the Athenians "Boy Lovers" it’s hard to take them all that seriously.

Right, with that out of the way, let’s get back on track and discuss the CGI. Following in Sin City’s footsteps, the entire film is shot on bluescreen. Which results in a dreamlike, comic-book quality to the shots that I absolutely loved, Zack Snyder uses it to full effect in the fight scenes as well; creating shots that couldn’t physically have been done with Cameramen unless you drip-fed them with amphetamines in between takes!

This was an extremely faithful adaptation of the comic which seems to be the done thing right now, which would be nice except I have absolutely no reason to read the original comic now. I guess anything that saves me ten quid can’t be that bad. The pity is that the comic could have done with a bit of adaptation… I hate to tell you this, but Frank Miller isn’t that good a writer! I mean, seriously, did anyone actually listen to the dialogue in Sin City?

I went to the cinema knowing nothing of the real events of the battle of Thermopylae. And I left the cinema knowing more about them than I realised. For those of you that don’t know, in 480BC a massive army from Persia actually did try to invade Greece. And three hundred Spartan soldiers actually did block the Persian army… But the other two thousand five hundred soldiers from the rest of Greece that were also there were conspicuously absent in the film, but to be fair, 2800 probably wouldn’t have been such a catchy title.

I was surprised by how much of it remained true to the facts, whilst also being surprised by how badly the Persians were portrayed. The Spartans were muscular white men who used the word "freedom" every second sentence, while the Persians were all swarthy middle-eastern looking spear fodder who used the word "slavery" every second sentence, when in fact, almost half the population of Sparta were slaves, and Persia hired all their soldiers fair and square from anywhere that offered… Wow Frank… Just… Wow!

If it makes you interested enough to check out what really happened, then the film isn’t a total failure as a period piece after all. But all that really matters is that we got to see a kick-ass film with some kick-ass fight-scenes with a whole lot of titties in it as well. And that’s all you can really expect from Frank Miller!
© Jack Clarkson November 2007

Watchmen by Alan Moore
Art by Dave Gibbons
Jack Clarkson
An introduction to Watchmen

Jack is studying Creative Writing and Film at the University of Portsmouth

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