Apr 4, 2007

300 and Science Fiction

Last Saturday I saw '300' in the cinema. I must say I really enjoyed the film. Usually, I don't bother with the critics about a movie, but I was curious since the actor that makes Xerxes is brazilian (Rodrigo Santoro) and well known in my country. I like to see brazilians doing well in the international scenario.

Appart from the usual critics to action movies and to the actors and the conspiracy theories about the political intentions of the film, there was one that I found very interesting. It was repeated by a lot of people: the fact that the movie is not historically accurate. The fact that they were not just observations, but that the critics were pointing this as a negative feature capable of lowering the quality of the work should be analysed better.

When I was younger, I used to tease my friends telling them what was scientifically wrong with the Sci-Fi movies. I liked the movies a lot, but I kept noticing every detail and criticizing them after leaving the cinema. I don't need to say that my friends didn't like it. Most of the time, except when they asked about it, they were not interested in how real or possible were the actions or devices in the film. Can you imagine why? Well, in the beginning I couldn't, so I started to think about paying attention in myself.

I realised that when I go to a movie, I am not interested in having a science class, I am interested in the emotions I feel. I liked Star Wars even with the sound of explosions in the empty space, with the vision of the laser beams and with millions of other small details. I like to see Star Trek (although the guys try very hard to justify everything). I liked Matrix even knowing that the machines could not use the humans in that way without violating energy conservation. I did like Sci-Fi movies independently of the scientific failures if the underlying plot is well written and the effects and the actors are good. I don't wanna know why, I just wanna leave the cinema feeling better (or in the case of dramas, worse) than I entered.

Indeed, I have never seen any critic saying that a Sci-Fi movie is bad because it does not pay attention to the laws of physics, have you? Maybe it is because it is easier to spot history failures than science failures. But when I was in the cinema this Saturday, I could see that everyone was holding their breaths and no one left the room to go to the toilette, as is so common. I left the cinema feeling very good.

I believe that Frank Miller's comic book was not intended to be historically accurate. I believe it was meant to be cool. I know that a lot of people will say that this is bad, because it makes people learn wrong history. Really? Well, in my case, it was pretty obvious that the film was a kind of fiction, unless you really believe that the Persian soldiers were inhuman monsters and that a Spartan soldier can put a spear in the eyes of a giant battle Rhino who is charging on him killing the beast just centimeters before it reaches the target. Of course it was not real! So, the first thing I did when I arrived home was to open a History book and learn what was really known about the fact. See? Although I have never been good in history on my school days, I was led to study it by seeing a movie that made me feel well. If I would have left the cinema feeling that I have thrown my money away, I would never have done that.

In fact, one of the things that led me to be a scientist (and I bet it is the same for many others!) was the Sci-Fi movies. I wanted to live that and, above all, to understand that. Indeed, I almost gave up to be a physicist and just came back after seeing Contact, but this is another story.

Picture: cover of the comic book.


Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you there ... I liked the movie quite a bit, and I think that what Frank Miller was going for was his own take on that war, embellished as it of course would be to make it into a comic book ... As far as such movies go, this one was truly great to me

Marlo said...

O filme [e otimo, mas leia a HQ...