Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I Learned a New Word

Saturday, my friend Mark and I went to see 300. It is based on the Battle of Thermopylae the same way many movies are based on the cover illustration of the novel with which they share a name. It was pure style, bloody and unabashedly direct. It mirrored everything I remember about Frank Miller's comics.

After the movie I decided to read a few things about 300, just to get some viewpoints. One columnist called it "as bloody as Apocalypto and twice as stupid," which made me laugh despite having never seen Apocalypto. The moment of education came when I read this word: warnography. It fits 300 perfectly. 300 relishes in every spear piercing torso, every severed limb, every drop of CG blood floating across the screen in this slow motion death dance with such a carnal sensuality that "explicit" doesn't convey the amplitude. This is the erotica of violence. Still, it was somehow cartoony, especially with the slow motion / real time cuts interspersing the fight scenes. It reminded me of Miller's "Hard Boiled" in that regard, which was so over the top violent that I couldn't always tell if the violence was satiric.

One interesting aspect was the portrayal of Persian King Xerxes. Since King Ahasuerus from the book of Esther is commonly thought to be one and the same as King Xerxes, it certainly shakes up my mental picture of the events in Esther to insert Frank Miller's Xerxes. So where did my vague images of ancient Persia originate? What would the Persian court have really been like then? We have our "biblical times" generic look and feel for an awfully wide range of times and places. I feel a bit inspired to look into things a bit more when I study them.

But not right now. I have painting to do.

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