I'm guessing that because we're good cable customers, Austar gave us the Movie channels to play with for a while.
Today, I watched 300 wif dat bi' 'o eye-candy, Gerald Butler... actually, there were plenty of rrr-rippling abs. But all perving aside, I enjoyed it. I'm assuming certain... disturbing... parts were edited out from the television version. But I don't recall studying (I did ancient history all through school, but modern at uni) that Xerxes was a debauched meglomaniac.
Yes, I know it's from a Frank Millar graphic novel, but that struck me as... odd. Meglomaniac, sure, given his father Darius tried the same thing and got his ass kicked, but a messianic hedonist? Hmmm.
Anyway, I was impressed by the history of the piece. The Spartans epic defence at Thermopylae has echoed down the centuries as an example of the determined few against the overwhelming might of the many. And the Spartans may have succeeded in defeating the Persians militarily at Thermopylae if not for the betrayal. As it was, the 300 died, but Xerxes's army was destroyed by the Greeks.
I've read the criticisms of this film, and all I can say is "they missed the point". Sparta was a city-state based on militarism - from birth to death and including women. Yes, it was brutal, but it encompasses what the Spartans were willing to do to keep their city as a regional power. It was a society much revered and much reviled.
'With shield, or on it.' There is no other choice for a Spartan Hoplite. King Leonidas and his men live on through history, achieving the glory they knew would be theirs. It's a mindset we see today in... certain, more radical elements of society. A mindset that is as difficult to understand today as it was for Xerxes then.
It is a piece of history more people should consider; it is the story of the few against the many, fighting for a noble cause while other sit back and watch. If news of the Spartan fight hadn't reached the rest of Greece, I imagine history, world history, would be very different.