Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The 300

I have seen Clash of the Titans, I am convinced in theatre but I cannot find my review at the time. In ancient Times the Gods led by Zeus divided up the world/universe with Zeus controlling the land and sky Poseidon the sea and Hades the underworld. Hades was tricked by Zeus which eh resents at what appeared to him to be banishment and a lack of power.

Zeus was responsible for the creation of human beings whose prayers sustained him in strength and power but where the human felt they were not getting a good deal from their subservience.

Pete Potlewathwaite plats a fisherman who finds a floating coffin in which here id a live child but whose mother is dead. He brings up the child as his own and as part of his family when he marries and heroes a child/children of the marriage.

When on a fishing expedition and admiring the great status of Zeus they are horrified to see soldiers from the city of Argos bring the statue down which falls into the sea. This rouses the wrath of Hades who appears in the form of a being reminiscent of supernatural creature in the series The Island but who then sends a bolt in the direction of the fishing boat which destroys the family leaving the son free. The son Perseus is captured by soldiers from Argos who take him to the court when the wife of the King in particular is in great defiance setting herself and her daughter above the Gods,

Hades has approached the other Gods on Mount Olympus to plead that the rebellion of the human cannot be allowed to go unchecked and Zeus in part from guilt at the earlier actions causing his brother to be left in the Underworld allows him to put humans in their place his way. The immediate consequence of this is his appearance at the Argos Court where he first eliminates the guards leaving only Zeus unscathed and then turns the Queen into an old woman/skeleton. He then poses a chose to the King of surrendering his daughter to the Kraken a sea based giant monster controlled if not spawned by Haddes, if the total population is not be obliterated.

Perseus initially does not accept that he is anything other than human but when there it appears established that he is the son of Zeus and that he and his mother was cast adrift in the ocean. He makes it plain that he wants to be regarded and to act as a human and that he is hostile to the Gods in general because of what happened to his adopted family. Having said this he is assisted Lo a beautiful young woman condemned to being ageless as gift from Zeus for refusing his advances,

At one point she delivers a special sword and at another she is responsible for providing him with Pegasus the flying horse. He also has a meeting with his father who begs him to up a position on Mount Olympus with him after having rejected him but when his son says he wishes to continue as he is; he does accept a gold coin, the fare for Charon, the Ferryman of the Underworld.

He also attempts to prevent the sacrifice of Andromeda, the daughter of the King by visiting the three women who function with one hand held eye, the Stgyian witches and he also then goes on a quest to encounter the gorgon Medusa. On his way he and soldiers from Argus encounter Calibos the form King whose wife was taken by Zeus and who cast the woman and child adrift. He has been given powers by Haddes to help his vengeance on Perseus and when they fight and his arm is severed it is turned into the fist of several giant scorpions. Just when the party appears out numbered by these creatures a race, the Djinn arrives who are able to control the beasts and then use them as a means of transport,

He then uses the coin from his father to enter the Underworld and encounter Medusa who after fighting he cuts of her head. Meanwhile back in Argos the mob have yield to incitement to surrender up Andromeda who is attached to a sacrificial structure for the Kraken. She is saved by Perseus with the help of Pegasus and the use of Gorgon head to send Haddes back to the Underworld.

Andromeda presses Perseus to stay and be king but he says she will make great Queen. Zeus also appears and expresses the hope that his son is now ready to join him on Olympus but Perseus says he is content in human form. Previously Lo has given her life to enable Perseus to gain the head of the Medusa and free Andromeda and as a reward for returning Haddes to the Underworld and returning the world to the previous harmony Zeus brings back Lo so that his son has a companion and the two fly away on Pegasus.

The film was original made for Theatre is conventional 2 D. It was then remade in 3D with the consequence it provides the internal dimensional view without the gimmicks of things flying in and out of the screen in d a distracting way. This also provided an alternative ending in which Perseus develops a relationship with Andromeda which is brought to life with rescuing her from a certain and horrible death. He says he will return but first flies to Mount Olympus to advise his father that he does not wish to be a god before flying off, we presume back to Andromeda. Lo has remained dead something which she had intimated she longed for having lived for so long and seen all her contemporaries and love ones dies, an experience which Perseus could empathise through the loss of his family.

There is a good cast in the film with Sam Worthington as Perseus, Liam Neilson as Zeus, Ralph Fiennes as Haddes and as mentioned the late Pete Postlethwaite as the surrogate father. This brings credibility to the ancient Myth and Legend.

I now come to the least effective of the films seen, the 300. The story of the men trained from childhood to become ruthless killers with no other purpose in life than to produce children who would become nation sanctioned killers in their footsteps. This was also a race of people that murdered boys at birth who were weak or deformed or who the male parent felt was unlikely to become a replica of themselves. They used slaves although it said within limits they treated women well although it would more appropriate to say they treated “their” women well and in the film the wife of King Leonides tells him to come back with victory or die in honour. There is no alternative to a situation where the opposing forcee is huge with enormous resources while the city state is comparatively poor, small and under resourced despite the machine like quality of the special forces.

The story is uncomplicated. The Persians on sea and land want to conquer the known world as far as they can and Sparta wants to retain its independence. When the Persian King sends his envoy to request homage and acceptance of their fate he is pushed to his death down a well. The King has a plan to locate his forces at the entrance to a narrow gorge on the plain of Thermopile which I have visited and present such a barrier that the Persian ruler will grow tired and move them on elsewhere. Before he can put his plan into practice he must consult the Ephors and ancient leprosy ridden priests who live on an isolated mountain rather like Mount Olympus who in turn consult the oracle who appear to be teenage nubile young women who are ravished by the old men and trained to say whatever the old men have determined in advance of any consultation.

They and the Oracle say no to the Spartan plan and afterwards we learn that that they have been bribed by an ambitious politician who wants to be King in league with the Persians and who has offered the Ephors an unlimited supply of you women to be trained as oracles on a daily basis plus a pile of gold.

The outcome is that the politicians refuse Leonides permission so he calls for volunteers to accompany him on an exercise which so happens takes them to place of proposed confrontation with the enemy.

The main part of the film therefore concerns the battle between the 300 and the hordes of the Persians and their subjugated people. They are attacked by cavalry, elephants and other beasts, powder bombs, the Immortals and showers of arrows. Then they are undone by one of their own people. This is hunchback who escapes the cull at birth and was taken by his parent to live outside the city but was trained to fight and has the burning despite to prove him and his family’s honour in battle. He is rejected and told he can help the wounded and dead after each battle. This act of insensitivity results in the man offering his services, and in particular his knowledge of a pathway which will take the Persians behind and above the Spartans in exchange for access to the slave women folk of the Persian King who behaves like a God and is satisfied with an act of homage as people prostrate themselves in adoration before him.

Leonides is given two opportunities to surrender by the Persian King which are rejected and as the mountain of killed enemy grows the anger of the Persian intensifies with neither side taking prisoners.

Meanwhile the Queen has been trying to win support from the politicians to raise an army in support of her husband who has only obtained the support from another city state but whose men are not professional soldiers. She is told that she needs to bring the ambitious Theron on side and to this she has to subject herself to rape advising in advance that she will not enjoy his attention. However when she goes to the Council he accuses her of adultery so she kills him in her anger. The blow opens his purse to reveal Persian Gold and the extent of his treachery. This prompts Spartans to unite and raise an army of 10000 which together with 40000 others from the rest of Greece confronts the Persians who still have three times as many fighting men.

Before his death Leonides has a near miss at killing the Persian King but he and his men die with honour, Before this he had sent a messenger back to ensure the tale of their action is known to his countrymen and pass down to history, Historians have been able to place the action in the context of the brutality of both sides and their civil shortcomings in terms of what is considered acceptable to day.

Now to the facts. The Spartan army in force with other Greeks estimate to be around 7000 confronted the Persians estimated 100000 to 30000 while the respective Navies were engaged in Battle. The Persians had invaded again after their first invasion defeat at the Battle of Marathon where a runner brought the news to Athens some 26 plus miles away, a site which I have also visited. It was after the betrayal disclosing the pathway that Leonides dismissed the bulk of his force to regroup while he fought what he knew was a rearguard action and which he believed would unite all Greeks against the invaders. While the Persians were able to make progress they were every defeated and with drew. There is no doubt that the King and his men sacrificed themselves on behalf of their countryman and to die in battle as they had been trained all their lives to do.

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