300 is as splendiferously outrageous as I could have hoped. Very very stylized, of course, but that resulted in some awesome images (of which the iconic “shoving the guys over the cliff” one is my favorite) — I’m very interested by the effect comic books are having on cinematography, most obviously in comic-book movies, but sometimes in other movies, too. And on a script level, the Spartans had more of a sense of humour than I expected; normally I think of them as kind of being like Viking-era Norse without the tendency to get drunk and laugh at doom.
Also, the fight choreography was beeyootiful. And I realized, during a discussion last night, that my appreciation of both dance and fighting is partly visual, but primarily kinesthetic. That is, while some of the beauty I respond to is based on the lines and framings creating by the body in relation to its environment, I think more of it comes from the sensation of movement itself, my ability to imagine the flow of dance moves/strikes/whatever. I tense up when I’m watching a fight, not because it makes me nervous or afraid, but because my muscles are making miniscule little twitches of response to the movements I see. There can be an aesthetic quality in the kinesthesia, just as there can be an aesthetic quality in visual presentation — or aural, or tactile, or whatever. And this is why fights are pretty to me: not because of the violence they inflict, but because of the beauty of their flow.
I suspect that people who have studied dance or martial arts are more likely to nod in agreement at this.
Anyway, 300 = awesome. Bloody and violent, and don’t ask what atrocities it commits upon the actual history of the battle, but that really isn’t the point; the point is to celebrate the national psychosis of Sparta, and a breeding program designed to produce the toughest hard-asses in all of Greece. And in that respect, it succeeds admirably.