Sunday, 8 April 2007

Friday 6 April 2007

three hundred spartans
in boots and skimpy knickers.
they should have vests on.

Last night the UO and I met up in Wetherspoons in Shepherds Bush and went to see ‘300’. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel it is more of a dramatic, almost mythological account of the three hundred Spartans, led by King Leonidas, who held off the invading Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae. It was a wonder we got to see it at all as the credit card ticket machines weren’t working properly, there was no one in the ticket office and we had to get the tickets eventually from the woman who sells the popcorn. The Spartans would never have stood for that level of inefficiency.
Visually, the film is reminiscent of Orson Welles movies such as ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Citizen Kane’ and indeed the cinematic process here (although not as starkly revolutionary as Frank Miller’s last adaptation, ‘Sin City’) is certainly pushing the boundaries of cinema narrative.
Gerald Butler (Leonidas) provides a faultless performance (and a very nice arse which is seen very briefly before he goes off with the other two hundred and ninety-nine) and there is much teeth-bearing beardy shouting for those of us suffering Brian Blessed withdrawal.
Inevitably, given the subject matter it is a violent and gory film, but one which is based in a historical reality (although I’m not sure about the giant rhinoceros and the war elephants). Also, the original Spartans did have an auxiliary force of several thousand Greek soldiers, a thousand of which stayed behind with the Spartans for the last stand.
However, that’s not important to me, although I can see some people complaining about historical accuracy, others complaining that it didn’t reflect Frank Miller’s vision, and maybe the rest of us just loving it.
The only real problem I had with the film was the voice of Xerxes (embodied as an eight-foot spoiled, pierced and very precious God King of the Persians). His voice was dubbed by an American and artificially deepened and echoed, so that he ended up looking like he was channelling Darth Vader. The voice simply did not fit the physicality of Xerxes and only cheapened the film by its complete lack of necessity.
Outside, feeling very Spartified, I shouted ‘Sparrrrtans! To the chip shop!’ in a loud Scottish voice, remembering to roll my ‘r’s as Gerald does when he says ‘Sparrrrtans!’.
We picked up fish and chips and went home.
This morning I had to go shopping for vodka since we had our friend Robert coming round for dinner. On the tube platform a young builder was on his mobile talking to a friend about his girlfriend. In the course of two minutes he had used the phrase ‘at the end of the day’ eight times (yes, I counted). Someone should tell him.
I bought Barry an Easter egg. Easter is, as people around the world should be reminded, a pagan festival. It was originally the festival of the Goddess Estra, which is where the eggs and rabbits come in, fertility symbols to herald in the time of rebirth. Sadly, it was hijacked by the Christians to commemorate the alleged resurrection of Jesus, which is unlikely to have happened around the time of Easter anyway.
Barry made a blinding Moroccan lamb dinner and an apple and blackberry tart tatin with home-made custard, after which we sat up till the early hours, chucking vodka down our necks and putting the world to rights.

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