Friday, March 09, 2007

300-The Comic

Go tell the Spartans, passerby:

That here, by Spartan law, we lie.

300 by Frank Miller is one of the best comic I have read. Published in 1998 in five issues, it was collected as a hardcover in 1999. It was published by Dark Horse Comics.

Frank Miller's drawings are his classics, portraying human bodies, not in its ideal Greek form but as functional tortured souls. Lynn Varley did the coloring. It reminds me of his classic, Batman:The Dark Knight Returns. The story is based on an event in Greek history.

The Persian army of one million soldiers under Xerxes were on the way to invade Greece. It is said that the earth shook when the Persian army marched. This attack of the Persians took the Greek city states by surprise. They needed time to gather their forces. The initial attack had the Persians franked the Greek army.

Knowing this, King Leonidas of Sparta decided to lead 300 of his elite force to try to stop the Persians at a narrow pass called the Hot Gates or Thermopylae.

According to Herodotus, Leonidas had been warned by the Delphic oracle that either Sparta would be destroyed or their king would lose his life. Leonidas chose the second alternative. All the Spartans died, including Leonidas.

However the 300 Spartans managed to hold off the one million Persian army long enough for the rest of Greek army to escape. Their courage and their death became the inspiration for the Greek nation states to fight against the Persian.

I have reread the comic. Now I am ready for the movie.



Blogger Israel Lee said...

I watched the movie yesterday. It is good although my expectations were high.

Because of its classical historical cultural settings being quite similar to that of the New Testament, the movie brought to life certain aspects in the New Testament which I did not pay attention to or was not obvious to me before.

The scene where Xerxes tried to tempt and coerce Leonidas to kneel in submission really reminded me of the Lord's temptation in the wilderness. The titles of King of kings and Ruler of the world reminded me of the gospel's declaration that Jesus is indeed King of kings and the true Ruler of the world.

Such is the power of imagery in a movie that mere texts could not produce. The final battle cry was to remember King Leonidas and upon that memory claim victory at Plataea. As a Christian, I am reminded that the Holy Spirit will bring into remembrance what the Lord has said and done, and this spurs us on. But I wonder how many of us walk out from the cinema with lessons learnt, or merely entertained ourselves.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Israel,

That's a good point. The imagery of Xerxes proclaiming himself God and king is a powerful indeed.

If you read Frank Miller's comic, he titled the first three chapters, Honor, Duty, Glory. The Spartan has always fascinated me as a warrior culture.

I must confess that I come out of the cinema merely entertained.

12:49 AM  

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