Welcome to Your Favorite Film is Trash, YFFIT for short, a weekly look at the severe flaws in some of your favorite movies. This week’s film: 300. I’ve actually seen this movie a bunch of times, including when it first came out in theaters almost 10 years ago. While the movie is fun and looks cool (word to Zack Snyder), there’s a lot to be desired with regard to, you know, the movie actually being good. Here are 4 reasons why 300 is trash:
1. Why didn’t Leonidas or Xerxes kill the other during their brief meeting?
Part way through the Battle of Thermopylae (because, fun fact, that’s the battle this movie is about), Leonidas and Xerxes meet briefly where Xerxes makes an offer no sane person would refuse: control of Greece, immense wealth, jet-skis, etc. Leonidas of course says no, advances the plot, and then dies later via barrage of arrows. Question, though: why don’t Xerxes and Leonidas try to kill each other?
I’m sure you’re thinking, “because…honor, or something,” and sure, maybe. The one thing that I know about movie wars is that all is fair in them, there’s a bit about love in that saying too but that’s neither here nor there. Here’s my thinking, Xerxes has way more men at this meeting than Leonidas does. It stands to reason that he could kill Leo then duck back into his portable pyramid and be good.
Conversely, Xerxes (and seemingly everyone else in his command) believes he is a god. I’m willing to bet that’s a large reason why he’s maintaining power over these people…outside of the whole, “I’m the king of everything because I inherited it from my dad” thing. You know, Xerxes was a lot like Donald Trump if you think about it; more on that in a minute. Anyway, these people don’t follow Xerxes by choice. Killing him would probably see a great deal of them stop following him which, if nothing else, would see people fighting among themselves instead of the Spartans. Even showing that this supposed god could bleed would do wonders for Leo’s cause. That’d be powerful even if Leonidas were to get killed in the fray.
2. The Spartans hate the other Greek cities, why not accept Xerxes’ offer and then overthrow him later on?
So I mentioned in the previous entry that Xerxes is kind of like Donald Trump…like a lot like him actually. His dad was very successful and amassed a great fortune that he went on to squander as a result of his own incompetence. Ancient Trump! With that in mind, why wouldn’t Leonidas and company accept Xerxes offer and then overthrow him later? The Spartans already hate the rest of Greece, this gives them the chance to do something they’d never be able to do on their own: rule all of Greece. We’ve talked about how inept Xerxes is, a Leonidas ruled Greece would certainly be able to overthrow the Persians. The Persians fell under Xerxes anyway, so it wouldn’t even have been that long of a wait to take control. I know the movie makes the Spartan way of life look glamorous what with the starving children and making them go out on their own to learn how to survive in nature at age 6, but that kind of thing doesn’t make for a great country. This was the one chance for the city-state to finally rise above their second-tier status and Leonidas decided he’d rather be impaled by a bunch of arrows instead. Brawn over brains leads to…hmmm, I don’t know where I was going with that actually. Moving on…
3. Why is it so difficult for the queen to speak to the Senate?
While the 300 Spartans are out trying to keep the Persians from running them over, Queen Gorgo tries to get an audience with the Spartan Council to try and convince them to send the full Spartan army to aid the 300. Let’s look at that last sentence again, “tries to get an audience with the Spartan Council”. She actually has to jump through a few hoops to finally be able to speak to these guys, one of which involves essentially getting raped by one of them who then double crosses her in the council chambers. (ed. note: can Dominic West ever play a character I don’t want to punch in the face?No? Ok.)
Why is it so difficult for the Queen of Sparta to be able to talk to other members of the government? Clearly, she and Leonidas don’t make the rules with absolute control, but it doesn’t quite make sense to me that the queen of a city-state would have to fuck a dude to get in front of the council. But what do I know?
4. Why doesn’t it occur to Leonidas that he should let Ephialtes fight with them?
If it wasn’t obvious, Leonidas only has 300 men to go against Xerxes’ 10,000
slaves soldiers. It seems like it’d be a smart decision to take as many volunteers as he could get to help in battle. Unfortunately for the Spartans, Leonidas is not that smart:
Notice, that Ephialtes knows about a geographical weakness that would ruin the 300 if the wrong people (read: the Persians) were to find out about it. You might also notice that Leonidas stupidly pissed ole boy off and then LEFT HIM ALIVE to do…whatever with that information. All this guy wants is to be part of a team and he seized the opportunity to do so when Xerxes offered him a place to join one. And it’s not like Leonidas hasn’t thought about this possibility either. He says to his captain, “let’s pray to the gods no one tells the Persians [about the goat path]”. Maybe don’t piss off the only other person who knows about it then? Or, you know what I’m saying or, let dude roll with you in battle where he’ll probably die pretty quickly anyway. This is kind of a no-brainer, fam.
Gotta be honest, all these guys have spent their lives training and hoping to fight in a battle like this one only to see their leader squander their chance at an ultimate victory. I feel like these guys deserved a smarter king.
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