Skip to main content

300: Rise of an Empire

Behold! Your ship ropes will fret me mightily!
300: Rise of an Empire

The Greeks knew enough to protect themselves with shields, with helmets, so why -- you can't help but ask yourself -- did they leave the rest of their body bare when they went into battle? The movie kind of suggests an answer -- mobility. These Greeks -- especially Themistocles, their hero admiral leader -- go through their opponents like parkour street obstacles met, sliced through, hopped over, hurdled, dodged and further then into the fray. Given how we see them battle, it would have been more appropriate not to see them testing their swords' sharpness but the oil applied to their skins' sleekness. "Yes, the olive-oil slather was very well-prepared -- good thing you were a merchant before joining our citizen army, young master Hestophles!" 

I'll athletically and elegantly glide through you all!

Actually, this isn't quite fair. When muscles are so prominent and so well developed -- all extrusion -- they defy reason and actually come across as protection, armour: something that would instantly deflect a spear -- especially for their being slightly rounded; catch and also stop a sword, before it could take itself into the innards. But if I were to tell you the historical reason why Greek soldiers warred like this, went into battle with the one thing we've all learned many times that we should always aim for for it being the biggest target -- the chest -- unprotected, we'd recognize the truth of it better for having seen the absurdity of so many bare-torsoed soldiers imagining themselves the most invincible fighters ever. 

Historically, they went into battle more to sacrifice themselves than to kill -- though they were of course still highly interested in that. They dressed not just in the most militarily advisable manner possible -- until some other culture superseded their advances, as iron weapons did bronze ones -- but as much to suit the psychology of the battlefield situation: what they were there for in the first place. And battlefields are about becoming infants once again -- infantry -- and dying in a great field of corpses, thereby being permanently fused with Killer Goddesses, of which this film, we note, actually has three. 

That image the film lingers over -- of the 300 in a jigsaw-puzzle assembly of strewn bodies -- is as much a sought goal as finding the enemies' women and defiling their brains out -- an "image" we are also explicitly shown several times in the film, as if it were the penis or vagina of one whole film body the film had girded itself to brave showing entire -- like the human body in a Lars Von Trier film -- even as much it invites us to take possession of it to keep it part of film-making possibility, and therefore also experience it, participate in it, pour ourselves into it, adding leverage. You need a great sacrifice, the film argues -- even if just ostensibly to rally a whole people together, however much the lingering-over of the various fields of corpses in the film suggests it carries rather heavily its own powerful meaning and already-fulfilled purpose. You exist to serve one great female "goddess," lose your life for her, and thereby become all pure -- we certainly see this in the film, especially when Spartan Queen Gorgo finally enters the battle and Themistocles is delighted to defer to her, step aside for her, be smaller than her; and to completely humiliate and destroy enemy women. A split -- good mommy kept to yourself; bad mommy projected into enemy, and dispatched before she can do any harm to "you." 

The archetype image the sequel is hoping to prove equal to

I mentioned that there were three goddesses in the film. Two are consistent throughout as being either the all-powerful good mommy or the all-vile bad mommy -- and neither of these includes the great assassin/plotter/slaughterer Artemisia we see throughout. Queen Gorgo is pretty much literally a war goddess, a terse visage of boundless revenge-instinct and pent-up fury, who could take down an army herself. You step to her side not just to count yourself amongst her train but to avert her countenance -- let her gorgon stare be, rather, unleashed onto the enemy! 
The strained, angry, terrifying "good" mother

The other one possesses a train more literal -- Xerxes. Unique in the film, we see "her" dramatic backside even more than we do her decorated front, and it's to emphasize her as possessing female dress as much as to show the epic size of the army at her behest. 

Dressed for the occasion, with her glorious spawn

She isn't a fighter. She stands in place, almost in relaxed-muscled repose, watching galleons of men conquest or die for her. She strikes us as near delicate as her jewelry; certainly as sensitive. And also as a fair bequeather of the gross human fetus "hunchback" won to her side, whom she'll surely encase and smother over in her Persian abode -- one laired great monster curled around her monstrous hapless spawn. 

Artemisia, however, isn't always female. Sometimes she sits in her maternal throne and descends upon her "serf" commanders terse "disapprovals" with their service; but just as often she's sword in hand, and as a warrior, absolutely daunting. It's difficult to assert for sure that when she and Themistocles frontal-mate that they didn't in fact both victorily hump/hoist penises into each other. When he humps her from behind, the situation is admittedly more clear -- but then again, since here all we're seeing is -- finally! -- her (incredibly) impressive bared chest, which we know in this film is one's actually being appropriated into mannish territory, some new basis for gender confusion actually ends up bequeathed. 

Her lover, Themistocles, has the face of a rat; buck-teeth. When he charges his way through the ships he carries an aspect of blight, and actually anticipated the other animal -- the horse -- charging his formidable carcuss across water and ships -- even if he's the only one that might snip his way through all the obtruding cords. His being noticeably less pretty than Artemisia, flawed in comparison to her -- bulked up and yet still not that impressive, with her remaining plainly evident as amongst human physical heights -- somehow seems as if it's part of the tragedy she has to suffer. More her impressive physical equal died at the head of the sacrificed 300 Spartans she never met in battle -- Gerard Butler's Leonidas. At the finish with her mostly alone to herself -- with Themistocles immediately having embarrassingly retreated to just one eagerly deferent component of Queen Gorgo's army -- the primary corpse amongst all other strewn, I imagined her twinned instead to him. 

She tried mightily but failed, just like him -- cause for sensitivity and romance in a film of revenge-rapes and mass clumps of inconsequent bulked bodies for various demanding Mothers. "Go to him, Artemisia! You both stretched out a path of independence; in death, relief from a trap of thick-clotted life."


Popular posts from this blog

Too late -- WE SAW your boobs

I think we're mostly familiar with ceremonies where we do anointing. Certainly, if we can imagine a context where humiliation would prove most devastating it'd probably be at a ceremony where someone thought themselves due an honor -- "Carrie," "Good Fellas." "We labored long to adore you, only so to prime your hope, your exposure … and then rather than a ladder up we descended the slops, and hoped, being smitten, you'd judged yourself worthless protoplasm -- a nothing, for letting yourselves hope you might actually be something -- due to be chuted into Hades or Hell." Ostensibly, nothing of the sort occurred during Oscars 2013, where the host, Seth Macfarlane, did a number featuring all the gorgeous Oscar-winning actresses in attendance who sometime in their careers went topless, and pointed this out to them. And it didn't -- not quite. Macarlane would claim that all obscenity would be directed back at him, for being the geek so pathetic …

Discussion over the fate of Jolenta, at the Gene Wolfe facebook appreciation site

Patrick McEvoy-Halston November 28 at 10:36 AM Why does Severian make almost no effort to develop sustained empathy for Jolenta -- no interest in her roots, what made her who she was -- even as she features so much in the first part of the narrative? Her fate at the end is one sustained gross happenstance after another... Severian has repeated sex with her while she lay half drugged, an act he argues later he imagines she wanted -- even as he admits it could appear to some, bald "rape" -- but which certainly followed his discussion of her as someone whom he could hate so much it invited his desire to destroy her; Severian abandons her to Dr. Talus, who had threatened to kill her if she insisted on clinging to him; Baldanders robs her of her money; she's sucked at by blood bats, and, finally, left at death revealed discombobulated of all beauty... a hunk of junk, like that the Saltus citizens keep heaped away from their village for it ruining their preferred sense of themse…

It might not have been worth it, Lupita

This is how Lupita Nhyong'o describes the shooting of the whipping scene in "12 Years a Slave":  And being there was more then enough to handle. "The reality of the day was that I was stripped naked in front of lots of people," Nyong'o said. "It was impossible to make that a closed set. In fact, I didn't even as for it to be a closed set, because at the end of the day, that was a privilege not granted to Patsey, you know? It really took me there. It was devastating to experiencing that, and to be tied to a post and whipped. Of course, I couldn't possible be really whipped. But just hearing the crack of that thing behind me, and having to react with my body, and with each whip, get weaker and weaker …" She grew quiet, and sighed. "I mean, it was -- I didn't practice it. It was just -- it was an exercise of imagination and surrender." Lupita was trying to become as close as she could to the actual Patsey, out of fidelity, apprec…