Lessons on 'Freedom' from Spartan Babykillers

If it’s crucial for a movie to have blood splattered at angles that defy physics, exaggerate the arm and abdomen muscles of its characters in shocking fashion, give Spartan King Leonidas a strange haircut and Persian King Xerxes a glamorous look thanks to piercings and a bangle, then yes, 300 deserves a “bravo” for its visual effects and graphics. But the craftsmanship of the letters cannot conceal the meaning of the words.

It should be left to historians to discuss what kind of historical mistakes 300 contains. Let’s look how the basis of the movie’s theme contradicts what the movie shows. What’s the synopsis? That the courage showed by 300 Spartan soldiers in the battle against the Persian army at Thermopylae led to the unification of Greece.

What’s the thesis? That the West began its fight for freedom and democracy all the way back in 480 B.C., whereas the East was – just like today – a slave that was enslaving. On the path that marked out by 300 Spartans, was laid the foundation of a free future, saving the world from mysticism as well as tyranny. There is no exaggeration in my words; in the movie there is actually an expression like “goddamn mysticism”; but the “mystics” referred to were the Spartan mystics called Ephor , whereas the tyrants imposing the tyranny are of course the Persians and accompanying Asians.

Spartan King Leonidas not only fights a war against the Persians, but against religious rulings considered “holy” by the council of Ephors, who are depicted as ugly creatures. It’s as if secularism is the only way to have fully-fledged freedom. Yet it’s neither likely that such a conception of “freedom” had been developed at that age, nor that the characters in the movie could be absolutely unaware of the meaning of the term.

Let’s assume that we can understand how and why Spartan boys received “agage,” a kind of training beginning early in childhood, the most basic principle of which is “no mercy, no fear.” But this isn’t the end of it. The movie – which depicts the Persian king as an enslaving tyrant that reigns over an enslaved community – is audacious enough to show us newborn babies – if found to be too weak – thrown into a large hole in the ground filled with baby skeletons; and loutish enough to present this as something good that reinforces the myth of “heroism.”

No one should be offended, but this reveals a great irony of Western civilization. Taking things one step further – this moved takes an epic legend and turns it into an American version of imbecility. Leaving aside for the moment that we are referring to individuals that once lived in the womb of their mothers, after birth all human children are though to gain an absolute right to live. Is it not wrong to call people killing children because of their frailty freedom fighters? Don’t such people deserve to be called savages? Even in this case, can art and the artist remain so disconnected? I think not: What we have here is only a deception, using the arts for sleight of hand.

It’s common knowledge that the past is forever rewritten. The aim of this particular rewriting is to beautify the past to affirm the political positions of the current winners and argue that the defeated were ontologically wrong or imperfect.

Don’t be fooled by the words of 300’s producers, who say that this is the wrong way to see this movie. Some people will do anything to twist the idea of a clash of civilizations, thinking they can get away with moral supremacy by explaining it away as a “difference of perception.” This doesn’t work.

This is not a movie like Tarkovsky’s Mirror , which can be interpreted from a thousand angles. I would like to remind you of a sentence from the movie [as King Leonidas orders the messenger of Kink Xerxes into the death pit: “Sebastio, show our guest the way!” This is the agreed-on movie translation of “slave.” What’s more, is it possible that those involved with making this movie haven’t seen Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, produced by a man who assumed the role as cultural ambassador to the neo-cons?

Those who sell freedom must have forgotten how many of their movies we have seen.

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