The weekend box office receipts aren’t yet published, but if Makalapua Cinemas in Kailua Kona are any benchmark of the American viewing population (and they aren’t), I predict that 300 will either set or approach record revenues.
We actually saw Zodiac, which was excellent (it’s ending challenges you to consider the gap between “preponderance of evidence” and “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and does so not from an authorially introduced ambiguity, but from the question of human obsession projecting patterns into mountains of circumstantial evidence), but there were huge lines for the multiple screens showing 300.
Now, it may be that the history of the Greco-Persian wars are taught in some crusty ivy-shrouded prep school in Connecticut, but I’m quite certain that it’s not in any curriculum in Hawai’i. And, let’s be honest, it’s not in that category of “things a curious teenager might be expected to know.” That there was a city-state called Sparta — sure. That they were famous warriors — okay. Other than that, I insist that everything I heard was either made up on the spot or gleaned from Wikipedia in anticipation of the movie.
Which is fine. That’s how I learned about the battle of Thermopylae. But what was classic was that these two young men were trying to impress several lovely young women and, locked in intellectual battle, carried themselves well beyond their depth. And, having misremembered vital details of the Wikipedia article they found themselves not only (wrongly) explaining the outcome of the battle, they were asked by the young ladies what happened next in the war. Which they didn’t know. The one lad’s courage failed and he stammered something “Well, watch the movie,” while the other, bold warrior, took the chance and won the battle-for-fair-hearts by saying that the Persians retreated. And then, sadly, I had to go get my bucket of popcorn.
Human drama. It never changes. He was a smart kid and I hope that he finesses his way out of his problem. He’d done the critical thing: getting the girls interested. Enthusiasm, confidence, a good story: Well done. But, my boy, you have to know “what happens next?”