Plonked in front of the screen in his private cinema deep within the caves of the Vatican, the last Pope is reported as having said “It is as it was.” after sitting through a showing of epic slasher Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ.
These words were taken to constitute some sort of papal approval of the historical veracity of Gibson’s blood-and-guts fest, when, in fact, a more plausible explanation is that Pope John Paul II had sat in the room in the dark, and then the light was shone on the screen, a flurry of images appeared before his eyes, then, as the film ended, darkness enveloped the room once more. “It is as it was,” said the Pope, to the rejoicing of anti-Semitic Christian sado-masochists everywhere.
Any film supposedly based on historical events will provoke, if subject to a proper PR campaign, a debate in the popular press about whether or not it is ‘historically accurate’. It was thus with Michael Collins, In The Name of the Father, Schindler’s List, The Passion of The Christ, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Munich, Star Wars etcetera.
And so it is with the latest I-Am-A-Warrior! bollocks from Hollywood, 300. I was giving a friend a lift the other day, who had been to the Irish premiere the previous night, and I asked him about the content of the film, naturally intrigued as to the supposed significance accorded to the 300 hardened freedom-lovers knocking the lining out of 250 billion Persian savages.
He answered -rather disappointingly, since I was about to begin a speech- that he didn’t like to politicise everything the way I did, and that he only went along to see the kick-ass fight scenes.