Tuesday, May 22, 2007

historical malfeasance

I am not much of a movie go-er and I do not look at movies that much even at the cut. This past week however, I got a free bootleg copy of 300. They say it is supposed to be a story about the battle of Thermopylae and King Leonidas. It is also supposed to be about 300 Spartans called Hoplites. These were supposed to be elite troops of which they all had sons back home. The logic was men fighting with sons would fight harder.

From a historical perspective, I noticed that Hollywood somewhat took liberty with the actual battle. I mean the Spartans eventually ran from the battle and were killed by Persian archers and Leonidas, it was written, was or beheaded on Xerxes' orders.

What I know about the battle comes from Herodotus. Although he suggested it was about 5 million Persians involved in the battle, other historian’s state that the number was closer to about a quarter million. I do respect Herodotus but at the time of the battle, which is documented to have occurred in 480 BCE (before Christian Europe), Herodotus was about 4 years old.


Then there was the fact that the movie led folks to think that the Spartans' did wear much armor, which was a blatant historical untruth since it was likely what protected them in comparison to what the Persians wore. Then there is the observation that the director or whoever made it seem as if the Spartans were fighting for freedom, liberty and democracy when that could not have been farther from the truth. Sparta was not a free society and was really closer in character to a monarchical dictatorship; with the majority of its population being helots - a service class of individuals owned by the state and perceived to be property of the state property who were slaves and were denied Spartan citizenship.

The movie was cool to look at and the killing and graphic sex and violence was entertaining as well. However, it reminded me why, as an individual fan of history, I try not to go to see such stuff. It makes me believe that folks will take this as being factual, as actual historical occurrences. Just like the Movie Mississippi Burning – it had black folks thinking the FBI and J.Edgar Hoover was on our side and wanted to help African Americans in the deep south – poppy cock.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hollywood always takes too much liberty in representing history, for the simple fact that accurate history doesn't always make for a good movie. The motivation will always be filling seats in theaters and selling DVDs. If accurate representation of history is what you're after, steer clear of theaters, because you'll never find it there. But if it's entertainment you're after, you might find it in the theater.

JJJ

Girly_Girl said...

Great post. I hate misinformationn, too.

JustMeWriting said...

Dag, you've really got to follow up on these so called 'true' stories...because they will have you believing a bunch of lies...thanks for the notice.

dc_speaks said...

yeah....good looking out, T.

Im tellin you dude...you bouts to have me angry all over again with these posts lately...

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Mega Rich said...

As always, you are on point.

CapCity said...

People didn't believe Bro. Gil when he said The Revolution would not be televised...I don't understand why anyone would think that Hollyweird has interest in displaying TRUTHS...all I can do is shake my head. But, I am glad that u are blogging about it so that someone may actually hear what you're saying...

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