Monday, March 12, 2007

The 300

I haven't had time to see the 300 yet. Some rave: VDH TH JA. Some have reservations: RB. We'll just have to see it and decide. Update: superlative review: GJ. Update2: but wait: DF.


Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I'm surprised at you Ducky. You're the guy who continually points out that the Soviet Union was important in defeating of the Nazis; they took the brunt of the casualties. They "blocked the Nazis expansion" but in the process half of Europe and half of Asia fell to Communist totalitarianism. Communism (which killed over 150 million) was as bad as Nazism (or perhaps much worse). Of all people I would have thought you'd be praising the contribution of the Spartans!

The last link I provided (Ronbo's) points out that the Spartans weren't "good guys" but a totalitarian state fighting against foreign domination. It's ironic that this fascist state was instrumental in paving the way for the rise of the Athenian democracy and the great age of Hellenic literature and philosophy.

Nevertheless, the fight of the 300 became a symbol of civilization's resolve against the barbarian invaders. The actual identity of the Spartan way of life is generally ignored. One has to take such movies in such a symbolic manner. I can do that but I think we must remember the reality: Sparta helped defeat a greater danger but remained a danger herself; eventually Athens found that out.

3/12/07, 1:23 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

This is a movie I want to see. Besides, I have a free movie-pass to use.

3/12/07, 1:27 PM  
Blogger Ronbo said...

Jason said:

Nevertheless, the fight of the 300 became a symbol of civilization's resolve against the barbarian invaders. The actual identity of the Spartan way of life is generally ignored. One has to take such movies in such a symbolic manner. I can do that but I think we must remember the reality: Sparta helped defeat a greater danger but remained a danger herself; eventually Athens found that out.

I agree.

The symbolism in the movie was the heroic defense of Western Civilization by a small group of well trained professional soldiers who were absolutely ruthless and violent in their defense of liberty....

In the movie the Spartans are portrayed as an earlier version of the U.S. Marine Corps who suffer a life of hardship and discipline so "the philosophy loving Athenians" and other Greeks can be defended from the barbarians.

Cheers, Ronbo

3/12/07, 2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and curse the Marines; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

3/12/07, 2:41 PM  
Blogger Ronbo said...

Excellent quotation, farmer john!

When I saw the "300" couldn't help but think of the USMC and their motto, "Always Faithful" -- The Old Guard The American Republic -- who would all die in battle if that what it took for the nation to be saved -- In the movie King Leonadias says, "Spartans never retreat, never surrender."

How many U.S. Marine officers have told their Marines the same thing over the years?

As Orwell pointed out, liberty is defended by rough men who do violence...The Sheep are defended by the loyal Sheepdog from the Wolf, which was the topic of an early scene in the "300" where Leonadias as a young boy confronts a Stone Age wolf.

Cheers, Ronbo

3/12/07, 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It probably started with the very 1st one.

A toast of "Fishhouse Punch" to the roots of many venerable institutions dedicated to the defense of the USA.

3/12/07, 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of Wolves...Like Romulus and Remus, some men were merely suckled by wolves and celebrate the Lupercalia. Others went the whole Lycaon route and never returned from beyond the abyss. Psychology is a tricky business.

3/12/07, 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm shocked! Absolutely shocked! Mr. Ducky didn't like "300." I thought a movie in which the heroes defend Western Civilization against an Eastern tyrant would be right up his alley. You think you know a guy. . . .

I saw "300" over the weekend. I read the Frank Miller graphic novel on which the movie was based, so I already knew this would be a stylized, semi-fictional account of the battle. And it is faithful to the graphic novel to an amazing degreem while expanding upon it in very clever ways. (The Spartan queen, who as I recall appears only briefly in the graphic novel, is in the movie the most important character next to Leonidas, and carries on her own fight against the appeasers on the homefront while hubby is off with his buddies killing the enemy at Thermopylae. And, guys, she is quite the babe.) Is it a great movie? I don't think so, but it is very good; and I'll reserve judgment on its possible greatness for a second viewing.

It's odd, but the 1962 movie about Thermopylae, "The 300 Spartans," while an inferior film to "300" in many ways, touched me in a way "300" never did. Maybe because I saw it at a very impressionable age. I still get a little choked up when I hear "The March of the Spartans" theme from "The 300 Spartans" film score; and the final stand of the Spartans at that movie--even though the Persian hail-of-arrows in the earlier movie is obviously animated, and not-too-convincingly at that--gets me verklempt as the final stand of the Spartans in "300" never did. (I did get verklempt at the final scene at Platea.)

This from a individualist for whom the lack of privacy in military life would be absolute hell (for one thing, I could never go to the bathroom in front of others) and a libertarian for whom Spartan society is abhorrent. But just as I am glad that there are people willing to put up with military life and make the ultimate sacrifice (communal bathroom-going) to defend my freedom, even if I were an Athenian I would have been glad to have had those "magnificent bastards" the Spartans keeping the Persian menace at bay.

3/12/07, 4:03 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I can’t speak from military experience but its not hard to conclude that the ethics of war isn’t the ethics of everyday life. In war there is both an extreme sense of honor and an extreme sense of life-and-death survival issues both which require a highly cultivated sense of purpose and commitment which I hesitate to extrapolate from my comfortable living room. However, the unconquerable spirit is often dramatized by an unconquerable people in the heat of battle.

I think Ronbo is right that we like to think of this story as the “fighting-wing” of the Hellenic people willing to pay the ultimate price for the independence of the nascent liberal social order of the 5th and 4th century Greece. Of course, the Spartans (which I am on my father’s side) didn’t participate in the liberal regime. That’s surely the great tragedy of Ancient Greece.

3/12/07, 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since when was Sparta NOT part of Western Civilization? It may not have been the highest or best part, but by any standard I can think of to define the term "Western Civilization," Sparta was part of it. It was a part that had to be discarded as that civilization evolved, but so were a lot of things. Whereas Eastern civilization, with the exception of certain pockets, never seems to have evolved from authoritarianism. In any event, even if somehow you cut them out of Western Civilization because of their authoritarianism, what I wrote is that the Spartans defended Western Civilization--unless you cut ancient Greece entirely out of Western Civilization. In which case I'd like to hear what your definition of "Western Civilization" is, which European societies were part of it and which not, and why.

3/12/07, 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sparta showed the path to Athens...

Jowett summary to Plato's "Laws"

The institutions of Sparta may teach you, Megillus. Wherever there is excess, whether the vessel has too large a sail, or the body too much food, or the mind too much power, there destruction is certain. And similarly, a man who possesses arbitrary power is soon corrupted, and grows hateful to his dearest friends. In order to guard against this evil, the God who watched over Sparta gave you two kings instead of one, that they might balance one another; and further to lower the pulse of your body politic, some human wisdom, mingled with divine power, tempered the strength and self-sufficiency of youth with the moderation of age in the institution of your senate. A third saviour bridled your rising and swelling power by ephors, whom he assimilated to officers elected by lot: and thus the kingly power was preserved, and became the preserver of all the rest. Had the constitution been arranged by the original legislators, not even the portion of Aristodemus would have been saved; for they had no political experience, and imagined that a youthful spirit invested with power could be restrained by oaths. Now that God has instructed us in the arts of legislation, there is no merit in seeing all this, or in learning wisdom after the event. But if the coming danger could have been foreseen, and the union preserved, then no Persian or other enemy would have dared to attack Hellas; and indeed there was not so much credit to us in defeating the enemy, as discredit in our disloyalty to one another. For of the three cities one only fought on behalf of Hellas; and of the two others, Argos refused her aid; and Messenia was actually at war with Sparta: and if the Lacedaemonians and Athenians had not united, the Hellenes would have been absorbed in the Persian empire, and dispersed among the barbarians. We make these reflections upon past and present legislators because we desire to find out what other course could have been followed. We were saying just now, that a state can only be free and wise and harmonious when there is a balance of powers. There are many words by which we express the aims of the legislator,-- temperance, wisdom, friendship; but we need not be disturbed by the variety of expression,--these words have all the same meaning. 'I should like to know at what in your opinion the legislator should aim.' Hear me, then. There are two mother forms of states--one monarchy, and the other democracy: the Persians have the first in the highest form, and the Athenians the second; and no government can be well administered which does not include both. There was a time when both the Persians and Athenians had more the character of a constitutional state than they now have. In the days of Cyrus the Persians were freemen as well as lords of others, and their soldiers were free and equal, and the kings used and honoured all the talent which they could find, and so the nation waxed great, because there was freedom and friendship and communion of soul. But Cyrus, though a wise general, never troubled himself about the education of his family. He was a soldier from his youth upward, and left his children who were born in the purple to be educated by women, who humoured and spoilt them. 'A rare education, truly!' Yes, such an education as princesses who had recently grown rich might be expected to give them in a country where the men were solely occupied with warlike pursuits. 'Likely enough.' Their father had possessions of men and animals, and never considered that the race to whom he was about to make them over had been educated in a very different school, not like the Persian shepherd, who was well able to take care of himself and his own. He did not see that his children had been brought up in the Median fashion, by women and eunuchs. The end was that one of the sons of Cyrus slew the other, and lost the kingdom by his own folly. Observe, again, that Darius, who restored the kingdom, had not received a royal education. He was one of the seven chiefs, and when he came to the throne he divided the empire into seven provinces; and he made equal laws, and implanted friendship among the people. Hence his subjects were greatly attached to him, and cheerfully helped him to extend his empire. Next followed Xerxes, who had received the same royal education as Cambyses, and met with a similar fate. The reflection naturally occurs to us--How could Darius, with all his experience, have made such a mistake! The ruin of Xerxes was not a mere accident, but the evil life which is generally led by the sons of very rich and royal persons; and this is what the legislator has seriously to consider. Justly may the Lacedaemonians be praised for not giving special honour to birth or wealth; for such advantages are not to be highly esteemed without virtue, and not even virtue is to be esteemed unless it be accompanied by temperance. 'Explain.' No one would like to live in the same house with a courageous man who had no control over himself, nor with a clever artist who was a rogue. Nor can justice and wisdom ever be separated from temperance. But considering these qualities with reference to the honour and dishonour which is to be assigned to them in states, would you say, on the other hand, that temperance, if existing without the other virtues in the soul, is worth anything or nothing? 'I cannot tell.' You have answered well. It would be absurd to speak of temperance as belonging to the class of honourable or of dishonourable qualities, because all other virtues in their various classes require temperance to be added to them; having the addition, they are honoured not in proportion to that, but to their own excellence. And ought not the legislator to determine these classes? 'Certainly.' Suppose then that, without going into details, we make three great classes of them. Most honourable are the goods of the soul, always assuming temperance as a condition of them; secondly, those of the body; thirdly, external possessions. The legislator who puts them in another order is doing an unholy and unpatriotic thing.

3/12/07, 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Communism isn't part of western civ???

3/12/07, 6:29 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...


Are you waiting for the remake of Battleship Poetemkin or Mission to Moscow? Or were you on the next line to see Broke Back Bolsheviks.

3/12/07, 8:06 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

I've not seen 300 yet, but I understand it is attempting to portray larger-than-life the Battle of Thermopylae in the same larger-than-life imagery Greek historians employed to record it.

Call it the pictures on the side of a old vase made into a movie. Or an old comic book.

Sounds like an interesting contribution to the tapestry idealized heroic representation that spans from Sparta to Batman.

It's not about the story, but how the story was told.

3/12/07, 10:55 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Another reason to see 300

3/12/07, 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to cut off my last post prematurely, but I wanted to acknowledge the Duck Pasha's statement or question (apparently directed to me) "is your enthusiasm for this over rated animation" [so he's actually seen it?] "indicative of the fact that we screwed the pooch in Iraq." If this is a question, the answer is "No." My not-uncritical enthusiasm for "300" is indicative of the fact that it is a good movie. I'm curious, however, that Ducky would raise that question. Where in my post, I wonder, did he find evidence to indicate such a subtext? Granted one shouldn't look for logic in Leftists, but I'm curious how Duck's convoluted throught processes made this leap. Not everything is about Bush and Iraq.

3/13/07, 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't seen it yet, and probably won't until or unless it is shown on TV for free (I don't hate going to movies, I just don't like spending the money on them - Scotch, you know... Yes, "Scotch;" as my grandmother used to say, "WE'RE the Scotch, we dinna care WHAT you call the liquor!").

I don't know how the computer-generated version of the fight compares with the historical version, but something that the various critics of the genre of blood and guts tend to ignore is the appeal it has to the frustration that many of us carry around inside ourselves at the failure to apply justice in certain cases.

Right now, the most obvious injustice of all in our daily lives is our failure to identify and respond to the obvious threat of Islam, even though, like Hitler and Lenin, they make their goals very clear and very public.

When I see the occasional blood and guts performance, I generally find myself "identifying" (hate that term) with one side or the other. As my chosen side inflicts defeat on the enemy, I cheer, and I find that I obtain some relief - SOMEONE is doing SOMETHING in defense of the good side!

It's short lived, of course, because then I have to go back and see the borderless borders, the make-nice approach to our killers, the lipstick our "Protectors" and the MSM keep putting on the pig, and I think that Camelot IS a "brief, shining moment" in history, and it will take us centuries to crawl out of the Dark Age Pit of our own digging.

That's when I go curl up in a chair with my well-read (and rapidly wearing out third) copy of "Anthem," and try to pretend I will live long enough to see that day when the light shines again.

OK, so I'm having a funk.

3/13/07, 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're Scotch, cubed, you might enjoy your fellow Scot, Gerard Butler, as Leonidas. His burr comes through every once in a while, giving his performance a younger-Sean-Connery flavor that I enjoyed. He even has Connery's insouciant grin at times. I would have loved to have seen Connery in his prime play Leonidas, but this is the next best thing.

I, too, share your reluctance about going to the movies. But I would recommend you overcome your reluctance in this case. Some movies pretty much have to be seen in theaters, with the wide screen and stereo sound; and "300" is one of them.

3/13/07, 1:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Bilwick does a good “sell” and we’re all ready to go. Well all except Ducky and these guys (as Beamish pointed out!) Cubed, it is tiring pushing against the tide but the groundwork will pay-off.

3/13/07, 2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, please, Jason--I'm not "selling" the movie to anyone. For one thing, I don't have to: by all reports it is a moderate critical success (not counting those critics who have their ideological blinkers on) and a smashing financial success. Also, the last movie I "sold" you on was FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, and I remember how badly that turned out for you.

Ducky should be happy to know, however, Michael Moore has announced that he will "answer this hateful Bush-Halliburton propaganda piece" with his own movie, THERMOPYLAE 480. In Moore's take on the subject, wily politician Themistocles deliberately stoked anti-Persian war-fever to promote the Athenian warship-building industry; Xerxes led his million-man army into Greece, not as an aggressive invasion, but as a peaceful protest against Hellenic hegemony in the Mediterranean and Leonidas' pre-emptive slaughter of Persian messengers seeking detente; and the whole battle of Thermopylae wouldn't have taken place at all if the Spartans hadn't provoked it by murdering Persian peace-protesters and then falsely claiming they were military spies scouting out Greek defences. The movies' good guys--Xerxes, Ephialtes, the dove-ish Spartan politician Theron, and the Ephors--will be played, respectively, by Richard Gere, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and the Dixie Chicks. Ducky should love it.

3/13/07, 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The infanticide scene made me wonder if scientists could come up with a way where we could examine newborn infants and see if they were growing up to be collectivists, and if they were, throw them off a cliff. You'd think that if they could put a man on the moon they could do that.

3/14/07, 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ducky is such a sourpuss. I thought news of the new Michael Moore movie would cheer him up but some people are just perpetual Grumpy-Wumpies.

3/14/07, 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

partial-birth abortion.... infanticide. What's the difference, ducky? It's not like they're people! Right????

3/14/07, 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Infanticide. Just call it the father's right to choose and I'm sure we can find some kind of privacy right in the Constitution to cover it.

3/14/07, 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the Spartans thought of their infanticide as "post-partum abortion." Just a thought.

3/14/07, 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They did a study ducky. It was just that easy.

"Doc, the wedding's off, let's flush it!"

"No problemo!"

3/14/07, 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why 30 states had to ban the procedure outright.

3/14/07, 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

partial-birth abortion.... infanticide. What's the difference, ducky? It's not like they're people! Right????

This is an excellent point -- The Spartans were more civilized than we contemporary Americans because they at least had a good reason for killing their babies.

3/14/07, 6:58 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...


You should like Sparta. They aborted their own, practiced homosexuality and had planty of slaves. I am sure you could have built Spartan Gulags.

3/14/07, 9:45 PM  
Blogger Ronbo said...

Speaking of slaves leads one to think of the slave master -- and on this very date in 44 B.C. one of the greatest tyrants in history, Julius Caesar, met his well deserved fate.

Sic Semper Tyrannis: The Ides of March Are Come

Have a happy celebration today, fellow republicans!


3/15/07, 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ducky should post over at the IMDB (International Movie Data Base) website. The IMDB's message board for "300" has motivated every State-worshipper, useful-idiot-for-the-jihadists, Islamist-apologist and a few (I suspect) actual Islamofascists to crawl out of the slime and vent there. It's a cesspool, and I feel dirty for swimming in it as long as I did. Actually, the experience made me appreciate Ducky a little more. He's a class act and a veritable Voice of Reason compared to most of that crowd. However, if you enjoy a freak show, be my guest. My "favorite" is the one who seems to be a brainwashed Muslim woman who can't write a sentence without using the words "neo-con" and "Zionist." If that's the kind of person who's upset by "300," it's all the more reason to support the movie.

3/15/07, 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...unless, of course, they come out of the movie and are still pumped...

3/15/07, 3:09 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

My problem with eulogising Thermopylae is that it was a battle fought badly by both sides.

If in a fortified position below a cliff face trying to block an enemy advance and there is access for the enemy to the heights of the cliff (and your rear) which you have not adequately guarded, you are not likely to win.

The Greeks should have strenuously guarded that flank and the Persians should have scouted better.

3/15/07, 11:11 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

I admire Spartan martialism. Before you protest, remember that we know of the Spartans because of their fights. Their profession was war. And they were good at it.

I have now seen 300. Watched it on an IMAX screen with 16,000 watts sound system. It's extremely faithful to the Frank Miller comic book of the same name. If you dug the comic, you'll dig the movie.

3/16/07, 2:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Fought badly by both sides?

I guess "badly" is a relative term. To "what" are you comparing it to? Perfect?

Winning was out of the question, so they pulled their goalie in the third period. He was the only one left in the game for their team that wasn't sitting in the penalty box. He needed to delay a score for at least thirty seconds. He delayed their scoring through three more complete periods and took out some of the other team's best players. Give the damn goalie some credit, man! He lost the game but his team went on to win the Championship.

3/16/07, 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you never faced the Kobyashu Maru scenario.

3/16/07, 11:55 AM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...


It was just a battle the Persians won through a simple flanking maneuver and the Greeks managed to effect a high kill ratio because the Persians did not attempt that simple flanking maneuver for 2 whole days. My real reason is that I am really pissed that "300" is a better movie than "Alexander", a scrappy defeat is more exiting than conquering the known world - because the Oliver "make obscure homo-eroticism a central theme" Stone is not directing. Really Pissed.

3/18/07, 6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...sounds like some perfectly legit reasons! LOL!

3/19/07, 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But I would recommend you overcome your reluctance in this case."

"Sell" or "no sell," Bilwick, you make a good case for seeing it!

Farmer John said...

"Communism isn't part of western civ???"

Well, sure, inasmuch as Plato, Kant, Hegel, Marx and Engel (among a large family of other statists) are a "part" of western civ.

Fortunately, they and their products, Communism, Socialism, Fascism, etc. are only a part of western civ, a hangover from a more primitive, tribal time.

Equally fortunately - actually, more fortunately - the most distinctive aspect of western civ isn't the weary old tribalist tradition that had been around since our Ice Age ancestors, but the newer, more advanced, more accurate assessment of the requirements of human nature, the one that understands that for us to thrive, we require freedom and a whole bunch of other good stuff.

Ronald Barbour said...

"Speaking of slaves leads one to think of the slave master [Julius Caesar, who died on the Ides of March]..."

Hmmm. Ronald, you know, I think it's no COINCIDENCE that the IRS chose the Ides of April for... Well, you know.

3/19/07, 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd think that a thriving population would have the common sense necessary to reproduce...

3/19/07, 7:34 PM  

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