300 ways to to cause controversy

28 03 2008

PlugsI finally got around to watching the movie 300 in all its glory. No, it wasn’t one of my favorite movies. Yes, it was one of the most visually spectacular films I have ever seen. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable journey into a fantasy world of crazed and battle-hungry men.

300

I emphasize that it was a fantasy world because it seems that way too many people took the movie completely seriously. The movie is based on a graphic novel, the same medium that portrays people as a superheros and all kinds of wondrous and villainous monsters for them to face. It just so happens that the ancient Persians were portrayed as the antagonists in the graphic novel by Frank Miller.

While there is significant historical backing for the occurrence of the Battle of Thermopylae, upon which 300 is based, there is very little conclusive evidence surrounding the various causes and effects of the battle. We have just as much reason to believe that the Spartans were, in fact, the antagonists, and the Persians were the protagonists, hence the controversy.

However, I believe that the politicians far and wide who have publicly denounced the film are only insulting themselves. They are using fiction to fuel political controversy, something that should be avoided at all costs. While Frank Miller certainly wasn’t honoring the memory of the Persians when he drew his novel, his goal was only to create a stark contrast, to make his fictional Spartans 100% for honor and glory. The goal was not to be historically accurate, since that is impossible anyway. Isn’t it a bit below these political figures to also be the national fantasy media reviewer? Shouldn’t they be spending their time trying to improve living conditions or creating beneficial laws?

Many people have touched on this topic before, but it’s worth reiterating. People often choose to be offended just for the sake of being angry. No one in the ex-Persian regions of the Middle-East can swear, “My fifty-times-great grandfather, assuming he lived in the the Persian Empire, was nothing like the Persians portrayed in that movie,” but they will anyway. It might be true, it might almost definitely be true, but we still won’t ever know. So how about we just forget about being offended and see the movie for its amazing visuals and for the Spartans who fought for glory and honor, no matter how stupid or evil they might have really been.





Keeping an open mind

3 03 2008

PlugsMany movies based on books come out each year. However, few and far between ever achieve recognition for actually improving upon the original. And regardless, there will always be many who prefer the book versions for a multitude of reasons.

Terabithia

This year, some of the best movies were based on books, among them Best Picture Oscar nominees, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, and No Country For Old Men. However, I would like to endorse a less acclaimed movie from 2007: Bridge to Terabithia.

Walden Media has gone from an unknown to prominent film production company since its inception in 2002, helping to create more mature and sophisticated movies in a family genre that has been riddled with horrid slapstick comedies and poorly-acted wastes of time and money. Among Walden Media’s films are the acclaimed books-to-movies, Holes and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. While they aren’t all perfect or even extraordinary, Walden Media’ films have at least made the choice to produce meaningful tales as opposed to garbage.

I believe the movie version of Bridge to Terabithia conveys all the meaning of the book and then some. The original trailers for the movie were awful and misleading, causing some to believe that the beloved book had been turned into another sloppy kids movie. Why they chose the tactic they did I’ll never know. Fortunately, the movie plays nothing like the previews did, and the heart of the book is left intact.

This blog has always been about viewing the world differently, about not taking things for granted, and about creating one’s own identity. Somehow, I managed to find a movie that combines many of my beliefs into one. I’ll be the first to admit that some of the production values were less than perfect, and some of the soundtrack was a bit awkward, but the message got through more successfully than in some of the best movies I’ve seen.

This movie was clearly directed towards children, as was the book, but the idea of keeping an open mind and utilizing your imagination is often much more effective directed at an older age group. That’s why this movie makes a perfect family film. Too often people forget as they’re growing up what it’s like to dream. They’ve already accepted reality and whatever life seems to be laying directly in front of them. Those are the people who should watch this film.

By the way, I think AnnaSophia Robb made a fantastic Leslie Burke. It’s not an easy task to create someone that leaves such an impact near the movie’s end.

Keep an open mind. Find beauty even in the things you don’t believe. And for the love of all, we should invite Leslie next time. She’d like that.