Ancient Greece has always occupied a prominent place in the cinema, and ancient wars have been particularly prominent in representations of that world. From the invasion of the Persians to the mighty Trojan War, epic films have gone to great lengths to show us the way war worked in ancient times.
Whatever its flaws may be, “300” goes to great lengths to show us what ancient warfare was like, as well as the military ethos that permeated many aspects of ancient life. The film, which is a hyperbolic and very graphic representation of the stand of the 300 Spartans against the mighty King Xerxes of Persia, is full of the blood, guts, and glory that were central to the ancient way of making war. While it does take some liberties with history, “300” captures the spirit of the ancient Spartans, showing modern audiences how central combat was to their way of life and looking at themselves.
Perhaps no ancient conflict is as famous as the Trojan War, which is the subject of this star-studded epic featuring the talents of such big names as Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, and Orlando Bloom. Although Helen is a rather lackluster figure, the film does a fairly good job of showing us how the men in Homer’s time behaved in terms of battle, including the hyper-masculine bravado that was an essential part of the military male ethos. Although we know the ending, we still want both sides to succeed even as we know that the mighty city of Troy will ultimately fall to the besieging Greeks.
Although this film focuses mostly on the details of Alexander the Great’s life, it also does a fairly good job of showing modern audiences how truly bloody and very confusing ancient battles could be. Just as importantly, however, it also shows the great diversity that was a characteristic of the Persian army, as well as the truly terrifying elephants that were used by the Indians. Whatever its other flaws, this biopic does an excellent job capturing the military spirit of the age of Alexander.
Whether you’re a fan of war movies or the world of the ancient Greeks, any of these films are sure to make for an enjoyable, and very exhilarating, viewing experience.
Heading to the movies? Get an instant mobile coupon to use at select theaters for free popcorn!