Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Call To Rebel: 300 Rise Of An Empire

It's a bad weekend to be a liberal.
Liberals abhor the message of 300: Rise Of An Empire (like this New Jersey critic, who didn't even understand 300) for at least two reasons: first, it decidedly rejects "freedom without consequence or responsibility" (twice it rejects this lifestyle) which is the liberal platform and secondly, it calls for everyone to rise up and defend their liberty and freedom against tyrants, which is not what the White House wants to hear in the wake of its increasing tyranny and abuse of power. With heart and mind the liberal agenda is cut down in every single scene of this film, practically crucifying them upon their own Marxist principles. The film delivers a powerful visual experience and a philosophical narrative that reaches into your heart and reminds you of what it is to be an American, which is exactly what it was meant to do.
300: Rise Of An Empire (hereafter, 300 RE) shares many similarities with 300, including the timeline of events (so the writers skillfully remind you of what's happening with Leonides and his bodyguard during 300 RE which happens concurrently). Another similarity is the oral tradition: in 300, Dilios (David Wenham) recounts the tale of Leonides to Spartans as they prepare to wage war against Persia and, in 300 RE, it's Queen Gorgo herself who tells her warriors about the history of Xerxes and Artemisia, Leonides and Themistocles). Why? The ancients knew the power of hearing a story, not just sitting back in a theater chair, or your couch at home, passively receiving images and dialogue, but someone telling you a story because that creates a bond: the story teller must tell, and the listener must listen. When someone tells a story, they impart to that story their own breath of life, and when someone listens to that story, they receive that breath of life giving birth to the people and events to which they listen within their heart, so the listener, rather than just being passive, becomes a participant in the story through the activity of listening and thereby enters into the events. This is how the bond is created and sustained through the narrative. In The Legend Of Hercules vs Pompeii, we contrasted the two highly similar plot lines of the films and examine how, in spite of so many similarities, The Legend Of Hercules is pro-capitalist, while Pompeii is a pro-socialist film. What is the difference between art and propaganda? Art reminds you of what you have always believed, of what the culture's accepted norms of behavior are and why; propaganda and indoctrination begin exposing the audience to behavior that is different than the accepted norms with the intended goal of undermining those norms and eroding the culture's value base. 300 RE re-establishes the value base in America by demonstrating why we believe what we believe, while revealing the liberal agenda trying to destabilize America's identity. 
That may sound absurd to some people, "This is about ancient Greece and Persia, not about America," but the truth is, films basing themselves on history are never ever never ever never EVER, EVER about history, they are always about the hear and the now: history is merely the vehicle to encode modern-day issues in the issues of the past so we can better understand what we are enduring today.
In this opening battle, when we first see Themistocles, we also see quite a bit of lightening. That might be a coincidence, however, I, Frankenstein was recently released, Frankenstein with Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy will be coming out next year, and we just saw the first trailer for Transformers 4 released wherein Mark Wahlberg's character has Optimus Prime hooked up like Frankenstein's monster; the prevalence of lightening in this battle suggests three things: first, Zeus watching the battle (his symbol is the lightening bolt) which would feed into what Darius says about only the gods being able to destroy the Greeks; secondly, lightening is one of the sources of greatest power known to man, but there are two types of power: political power and energy power; thirdly, that--like Dr. Frankenstein giving birth to his monster using electrical currents, the birth of something else is taking place. I think all three readings are valid and important. Given there is a storm, it makes sense that Themistocles would have his arrow blessed by Zeus to hit its target because of all the variables potentially mis-directing the arrow's path to Darius (like Leonides' spear towards Xerxes at the end of the battle in 300), so the gods watching the events on earth is certainly probable. Secondly, we see power plays being made: Themistocles will become powerful as a result of killing Darius, and Xerxes will seek greater power than he will inherit as a result of his father's death (becoming the "god king"). Given that Persia is modern Iran, part of the Middle East rich in oil, we can also see how power in terms of energy is at stake: the Persians require slave power to maintain their armies (we see the slaves many times) so if Persia cannot subdue the Greek men, they won't have sufficient reserves of slave power to fuel their war machine. Contrariwise, we can see how the threat from the Persians fuels Themistocles' drive towards a united Greece: the more Persia pressures Greece, the greater Greece's response must be. All in all, the lightening in this battle, like the violent sex scene between Artemisia and Themistocles (more on that below), is about birth, which is why Frankenstein is an apt comparison. Themistocles will be born as a result of this battle and what transpires, as will the invincibility of Greece.
Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and Artmesia (Eva Green) are against Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey); where do we see a battle with such definite lines of good and evil in today's world? Our country's capitol, every facet of every decision being made is echoed in the struggle of the Greeks to maintain their freedom against the seemingly invincible onslaught of the Persians. There is absolutely nothing about the Greeks with which liberals can identify their political agenda today, however, conservatives recognize the slavery and tyranny of Obama and his Administration in every aspect of the Persian invasion. 300: Rise Of An Empire validates personal freedom and free will through suffering and it argues these positions in a number of scenes: let's start with Themistocles and the death of King Darius.
Will see this scene again in The Hobbit: There and Back Again with Bard (Luke Evans); I don't want to provide any spoilers for those who haven't read the book, but the image of an archer about to change everything wth a single bow shot is also one we saw in The Hunger Games Catching Fire when Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) shoots the electrically charged arena and collapses it. This scene is important for at least two reasons: first, it demonstrates that a single person can make a huge difference, and secondly, that good can come from bad. It is Themistocles and Themistocles alone who shoots the fatal arrow, taking out King Darius, causing the Persians to retreat (we will discuss not killing Xerxes below), so one person can make a huge difference in the course of the world's events (and Queen Gorgo tells us that in her narration) which leads us to the second point: if it were not for the invasion, Themistocles never would have had this moment to kill Darius, as we shall see in The Hobbit: There and Back Again, without Smaug the dragon being released, Bard decries Thorin Oakenshield's entering the mountain because it will awaken the dragon, but if Thorin doesn't, Bard doesn't receive the chance to redeem his family's name and establish himself out of the ruin his family has fallen into. Likewise, we see the Persian invasion in 300 as not only offering the Spartans their "beautiful death," but as well, engraving their names and deed throughout all of human history. In today's political discourse, liberals hate this: liberals hate the idea of individuality (as we see, for example, in The Lego Movie and World War Z) and liberals want people to be terrified of suffering so they will surrender their rights to be controlled by the government so they don't have to suffer. Additionally, while most conservatives would agree that suffering--regardless of whether we like it or not--tempers our souls and forces us to abandon our weakness and become strong, liberals don't believe there is a soul to be made stronger (most liberals do not believe in God or a soul because God's Commands are at odds with the "freedom without consequence or responsibility" they live by and, not believing in God, they don't believe in a soul, which comes from God) and they certainly don't want strong, independent individuals who can think for themselves, they want followers like the Persian slaves and fighters who have no identity but exist solely to be used by their masters.  
To begin with, "Themistocles" means "glory of the law" and we certainly can't say that applies to Obama, or any member of his Administration (or the majority of Congress), can we? From the Fast and Furious scandal, the NSA spying scandal, the IRS targeting scandal, the opulent vacations on taxpayers dollars, the criminal charges against Obamacare and its atrocious website, the scandals with the Belgium ambassador and his sex ring, the Benghazi deaths and running of weapons to jihadists in Syria, the betrayal of Israel and accommodations for Iran's (Persia's) nuclear facilities, Obama's hundreds of executive orders against the American people (including the seizuire of property and resources and declaring martial law during peace time, indefinite detention and use of drones to kill American citizens without due process), etc., the only two people Obama has carried out the law against is an anonymous guy who dared to criticize him via Twitter, and a woman who took a phone call from Sean Hannity. Not for one moment, can anyone even try to convince me that Themistocles is an "Obama figure."
Click on this image to enlarge it. Top left: Xerxes at the moment of his father's death (which should be contrasted to Calisto at the moment of his father's death); top right image is Xerxes emerging from the bath to make him "the god king"; bottom left is Julia Roberts as the evil queen in Mirror, Mirror (I couldn't find a better image of her "make-over" scene, where the bird poop is smeared on her face and the bee sting is used to pucker her lips, but I wanted to remind you of it) and the bottom right is Charlize Theron as the evil queen emerging from her "snow white" bath like Snow White (Kristen Stewart) in Snow White and the Huntsman. What's the point of these comparisons? We could call it a "baptism into Death" as opposed to the Christian sacrament of baptism which cleanses the recipient and gives them life. Why are we suddenly having films where the rulers are despots and tyrants claiming absolute power for themselves,....?
There is something else to be said of Themistocles.
Queen Gorgo does mention that Themistocles started out as a mere soldier and rose to prominence because of his feats upon the battlefield, including killing King Darius; what is not included, however, is how incredibly difficult it was for Themistocles to accomplish that and he was born of obscure parents but became one of the most beloved Athenians of all time; just the little of his story included in the film is sufficient to make liberals sick and Americans cheer, because he is not only what many Americans are, self-made, but what many of us hope yet to become. If more of Themistocles real biography had been included in the film, it would not have been believed. How, then, can we contrast this to Xerxes and what becomes of him?
Who is Artemisia? She was a real woman who did side with Xerxes, was a female commander of a navy, was highly intelligent and decisive in all her affairs; that, however, is about all she has in common with the Artemisia of 300 RE.  As I said, history films never have anything to do with history--you want history? Go watch a documentary--rather, history films are vehicles for the here and the now, so artistic license is employed to encode and create metaphors in attempts to persuade the audience of the film's message; don't hold a history book up by which to measure Hollywood, because you will always be disappointed and you will have missed the point. For example: the film tells us that the Artemisia in the film was born Greek, but Helots had an uprising and killed her family then raped the little Artemisia and turned her into a child sex-slave, leaving her on a street to die. This is an unimaginable terror and horror for this to happen to a child, to any person, but in art, there is a reason this happens, and there are at least two ways to look at it. First, like Themistocles rising up in the ranks, so, too, does Artemisia when she is discovered and taught to fight. Unlike Themistocles, Artemisia doesn't use her own experience in an attempt to alleviate the suffering of others, or turn her bad experiences into a positive blessing for others: the scenes of her family being murdered mirror those we see when Xerxes begins burning Athens, so instead of using her powerful position for a greater good (like Themistocles in dedicating himself to the preservation of Greece) she uses her position for herself and the advancing of evil. This is clearly demonstrated in the scar on Artemisia's neck (almost like a curling iron burn): the right side of a person symbolizes their strength, the left is their weakness, and her scar (we never find out from what) is on her left side; the neck symbolizes what guides us in life, what has a hold of us (like an invisible leash we wear) so this ambiguous scar symbolizes the scars of her early life when she was too young/weak to do anything about protecting/defending herself and this scar is what leads her (recall, if you will, she vowed not to return to Greece until she watched it burn; if she were a happy, balanced person, would she make a vow like that?). So, what does this mean? Why change a powerful female character's background from that of royalty to orphan and slave? Part of it is to juxtapose her rise with Themistocles' rise, but also to create a parallel with someone in society today: who does Artemisia most closely resemble? Feminists. That Artemisia occupies a position of power over a military post isn't sufficient to justify her being a symbol of Feminism--after all, Queen Gorgo occupies a position of power over all of Sparta, but we can't identify her with anything particularly liberal or pertaining to Feminism--but the destruction of Artemisia's family and her early exposure to sexuality does (please please please remember that this is art and I am not in anyway advocating this to happen to children, art is a metaphor, thank you), in other words, SLAVES BEGET SLAVES. Artemisia is taken by Helots who were a slave class (this is where being the implied viewer and having background knowledge helps) and when the Helots revolted, they destroyed the family and destroyed women with them: the Helot revolt is a metaphor for a Marxist revolution, an uprising of the lower class against an upper-class. Women tend to think Marxist ideology will benefit them so they go along with it and they go along with anything that will "tear down" what they identify as traditional roles of women. Feminists are the primary agent destroying the traditional family today with a plethora of agenda issues (in other words, not just any one issue by itself, but all these put together and, permit me to remind you that I myself am female) including the use of birth control so women don't get pregnant, a career outside the home, not getting married, promiscuous sexual behavior, lesbianism, becoming more masculine in general while supporting the feminization of men. In her support of a tyrant like Xerxes, we can see the political parallels of Feminists supporting the soon-to-be-dictator Obama because they advocate the sate taking control of children and raising them (just like what we saw with the Persian Ambassador taking Artemisia off the streets and training her), the early exposure of girls to sex education and birth control as well as the disruption of the family by not having a father or a mother, or same-sex "parents." There is more to discuss regarding Artemisia and we will below.  
Xerxes saw his father die in battle, whispering to Xerxes before he did that, "Only the gods can defeat the Greeks." What does it mean, that only the gods can defeat the Greeks? Greece, a land and culture greatly favored by the Greeks, would be protected by them unless the Greeks insulted the gods or the gods felt compelled to divinely punish the Greeks for their sins, but unless it was the will of the gods to destroy Greece, the culture would be protected by them. Artemisia perverts this, as we see in the film, and convinces Xerxes to become what a human cannot become: a god. Why? To begin with, the unnatural--turning a human into a god--is "natural" to the unnatural Persians, who turn people into slaves (again, this isn't about history, this is art, so it's a metaphor), have those awful "Immortal" warriors, turns Artemisia's personal guard into suicide bombers, turns a king into a puppet, and--above all--is annoyed by the freedom of the Greeks instead of wanting to have that freedom themselves.
What does it mean when Artemisia asks Themistocles if he is descended from a god, specifically, Poseidon? This clearly harkens back, once again, to that little film, Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, and this should ring a bell with us because, as Americans, we are the descendants of gods, the gods who, in their wisdom, founded this country and bequeathed to us that imperishable doctrine of their wisdom, the Constitution (this is more explicit in Percy Jackson). Let's look at this question Artemisia puts to Themistocles in a different way: Themistocles tells his soldiers, "She has sold her soul to death himself," because "death" has given "life" to her (and "death" is immortal, so she wants to know what immortal being gave birth to Themistocles) but he's just a man, and he's comfortable with being that because he knows he will give his all for what he believes. On a slightly different note, a popular question has been: Why do the Athenians wear blue capes, when the Spartans wore red capes? Red is the color of love, and to show their love, Spartan men lay down their lives (their red blood) everyday for their country and their family (in the hardships of their training and when the go to war; please recall that Themistocles wears red when we first see him in the Senate because Greece has been his true love to whom he has completely devoted himself). Blue, on the other hand, is the color of wisdom: wisdom is the greatest of treasures because it costs the most to obtain and it can only be won through experience and the sorrows of life, so wisdom is often associated with sadness or depression. The Athenians, being the philosophers of the ancient world, were known for their wisdom (we see an incredible validation of this when, in the beginning, an arrow comes at Themistocles' but he tilts his head down and the arrow ricochets off his helmet, i.e., his learning and wisdom (his head) preserves him from death (taking Artemisia's offer for "freedom without consequence or responsibility" because that would be his death). So, whereas the Spartans go into battle armed with their love, the Athenians go into battle armed with their wisdom.
Themistocles is a "self-made man" contrasted with the "self-made god" Xerxes is. What happens when Themistocles goes into battle is the opposite of what happens to Xerxes when he is dressed in gauze (to represent a mummy, a state of death) and goes wandering the desert to the hermits' cave; Themistocles, in battle gear, becomes death as well (he could die any second in the battle) but Themistocles finds his own life on the battlefield; Xerxes, in the desert where nothing grows, finds the "darkest corner" of his soul and gives himself to darkness whereas Themistocles gives himself to his destiny, hence, life. So, this brings us to the question even the film doesn't answer: why doesn't Themistocles kill Xerxes after he kills Darius?
The burning of Athens and the destruction (supposedly) of democracy. Athens was the capitol of Greece, even, the capitol of the free world. As Queen Gorgo says, "The world listens to every syllable" that comes from Greece because it is the birthplace of learning and enlightenment. Xerxes burns it to the ground. We have recently seen another capitol burned to the ground by someone similar to Xerxes in Olympus Has Fallen (Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart). In Olympus Has Fallen (which grossed significantly more than its liberal counterpart White House Down with Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum) Kang is a communist from North Korea who wants to use America's own nuclear war heads against us (rather like Themistocles using the bow and arrow of a Persian soldier to take out the Persian king Darius). Like Kang taking our leaders hostage and destroying the capitol of the free world, so Xerxes tried to kill the leaders of the free world (he drops Leonides' decapitated head on Athen's streets as the city burns) because both of them hate freedom. In the opening scene, the first few seconds, there is a woman whose dress is ripped off of her and we see how naked and helpless she is as she is killed: she is the symbol of the motherland, she is the symbol of Greece and what was being done to her by the raiders. Now, we couldn't identify with the scene if we didn't feel like it was happening in our own country, that our American motherland is also being raided and destroyed by those who are invading us (please see Cerebrus & the Gates Of Hell: Olympus Has Fallen for more).
To begin with, Xerxes isn't an immediate threat the way Darius (leading the attack against Greece) is a threat; left to his own devices, Xerxes probably would have mourned his father and then tried to be a king and never ventured towards Greece again, so why should Themistocles kill someone who is not a threat? To substantiate this, consider that Xerxes is no more a threat than Artemisia was when she was found by the ambassador; just as the ambassador taught her to fight, so Artemisia teaches Xerxes to fight against Greece (the ambassador uses Artemisia for his own goals [he is the one who takes the dead heads of foreign kings to Leonides' door step] and in turn, Artemisia uses Xerxes for her own goals).
Why won't Gorgo commit more to the effort to defeat the Persians? She's probably waiting for a definite Greek commitment. Sparta stood first to hold up the Greeks, and gave up 300 of their bravest and their king; Sparta is obligated, as we know from 300, to go to war for the death of King Leonides, but still she waits to offer Sparta's strength so others will also have a stake in fighting for freedom. Why does Gorgo act like she doesn't like Themistocles? For several reasons: first, Spartans only respect other Spartans. Secondly, that Themistocles achieved a military victory (the military being Sparta's specialty) and he wasn't a Spartan, gives Gorgo cause to be a bit leery of him (i.e., jealous), especially because Leonides called the Athenians "boy lovers" in 300. Additionally, Themistocles killed Darius but Leonides didn't kill Xerxes, which is probably why she keeps mentioning it in her story. Had Themistocles killed Xerxes, Leonides wouldn't have died, but there is Gorgo's contradiction, because Spartan culture is based upon dying for Sparta, so has Themistocles killed Xerxes that day he killed Darius, we wouldn't know anything about Leonides today, only Themistocles. On a somewhat similar note, both Artemisia and Gorgo wear black and gold (pictured above) and this is a device to compare and contrast the two women. Black always means death, but there is death to the spirit and death to the world: we see Artemisia being dead to the spirit because she lives in a state of death and has no value for human life. Queen Gorgo, however, is dead to the world: now that she is committed, she will do whatever it takes to insure the Greek victory over the Persians. Gorgo wears gold because she is animated by love and wisdom, the two most valuable human experiences there are, whereas Artemisia is animated by her love of gold, status and power over others.
There is an important question we have to ask: how does Themistocles survive the bomb Artemisia sends on the back of her personal guard? I don't mean who pulled him out of the water, I mean how did he survive? Art. Themistocles' right hand man who he has fought beside for years is the great Greek poet Aeschylus, whose deeds in the war against the Persians were so highly esteemed by the Greeks, that instead of putting his plays upon his tombstone, they commemorated his military feats instead. Aeschylus is the one sitting beside Themistocles when he has been pulled from the water, and so Aeschylus is the one who saved him because in the next scene, Themistocles must face his men and exclaim to them "the burden of my command" that is his to bear because of all the men they have just lost. Which leads us to question, "What did Themistocles' dream mean when he was under the water?"
Aeschylus symbolizes art in general and the film makers (there is most assuredly a third sequel on the way, and I am confident he will play a larger role in the next film): if it weren't for art, how many people would know about Leonides, or Themistocles? Two of the greatest human beings who have ever lived are discussed today because of these films. Further, his military role validates all I have written about art being a weapon and playing a leading role in today's politics because art is on the front lines of the battlefield, not sitting off at a safe distance, sketching notes and sipping wine, but right there in the action.
First of all, the dream, like Artemisia's background in the film, is created by the film makers: Themistocles didn't have this dream in reality, so the film makers have inserted the dream in because it's additional encoding to say what they can't come right out and say; which is? Themistocles slowly sinks beneath the water, seeing all the destruction and dead men; he sees two, pre-historic-looking fish-serpents who begin eating the dead men and picking at them. One of the fish sees Themistocles and starts towards him to eat him and then Themistocles wakes up on shore.
What does it mean?
The outfit Artemisia wears in this scene is important for a number of reason. First, the black and gold contrasts to the black and gold we see Queen Gorgo wearing on her way to meet up with Themistocles. Secondly, Artemisia has gold,.... "spikes," like a pre-historic lizard's, going down the back of this outfit; why? We saw similar "lizard" apparel worn by King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) in Immortals, but we also see the same back "spikes" on Smaug the dragon in The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug and we might see that in Maleficent (if she turns into a dragon) which brings us to another Maleficent similarity: when Themistocles returns from her ship, he tells his friends, "She's bringing all hell with her," which is what we hear Maleficent say in the original Disney version to Prince Philip (Now you will deal with me, and all the forces of hell!). Another aspect of Artemisia's character is her heavy black eye make-up. We see the eyes of the Winter Soldier with heavy dark eyes as well (Captain America: the Winter Soldier). Why? The eyes are the windows of the soul, so she has framed (the dark eyeliner) her soul (the eyes) with death (black) and that's why she says, "If death comes for me today, I'm ready," because she lives in a constant state of death. 
There are at least two possibilities, the stronger one being the two fish are Xerxes and Artemisia: they live off the dead Greek soldiers and gain power from the corpses like the fish using the bodies as their food source; the fish coming for Themistocles is Artemisia specifically targeting him and "hunting him down" like an animal to kill him. But why are the fish so pre-historic looking? Because Xerxes and Artemisia represent the basest, most impulsive parts of our nature, "the darkest corners" of our souls where one of those creatures could continue to live (the "freedom without consequence or responsibility"), as opposed to Themistocles who is en-light-ened (the "light" chasing away that darkness) and believes in freedom and the responsibility that comes with it.
Artemisia and Themistocles fight in this scene near the finale. Two points to make about this: first, the horse Themistocles rides in this incredible action sequence. Where does that horse come from? It's the spirit of Greece. A normal horse would not be able to ride a horse through those crashing ships and fighting soldiers the way Themistocles does, so it must be symbolic of the spirit of rebellion against tyranny that Themistocles must summon in order to save the day and persevere. Secondly, the "climax" of this fight is Themistocles stabbing Artemisia in the stomach, which is the second time we have seen a woman stabbed in the stomach, the other being Helen Mirren's character in The Debt  which was meant to be a symbolic abortion (please see The Debt & the Theory Of Chaos for more). The second point is, it's the wind in her hair that makes her realize Spartan ships have arrived, and Themistocles--against the odds or her overwhelming size--has won. Why? Hair symbolizes our thoughts, so when Themistocles stabs her, she realizes her two weapons--his lust and freedom without consequence--have failed to overcome the Athenian. He has proven that (like all the people not signing up for Obamacare) that independence and freedom are better than licentiousness and slavery, in any form.
The other possibility is that the two fish are Themistocles and Artemisia, again, Artemisia being the one to come after him, but Themistocles also being one of the fish because the soldiers are dying as a result of his command (I don't think this is as strong of a reading because Themistocles doesn't gain gratification from the deaths the way Xerxes and Artemisia do). So, this leads us now to examining the sex scene between Artemisia and Themistocles.
Ephialtes has played an enormous role in the events of both films. In 300, he showed the Persians the path and the Spartans died; in 300: RE, he shows the Greeks the sword and the Greeks triumph. Leonides, when facing Ephialtes at the end, told him, "I hope you live forever," because that was the worst curse there is for a Spartan: to live and not die for Sparta. Ephialtes tells Themistocles he wants to die, that he realizes what he did and can't bear to live. We can take him at his word because his right eye is now much larger than it was in 300. Why? As we deduced about Artemisia's scar on the left side of her throat, the right side is the side of our strength, and the eyes are the windows of the soul (although in this situation, it more aptly symbolizes the ability to "see" as in mediate and reflect accurately upon what one has done) and his bigger eye, validates that he has repented of the evil he has done, which is important, because it makes Artemisia not repenting of the misery she sows even worse since she herself has suffered so greatly as a result of the very events that she is instigating. Further, Ephialtes playing such a large role in both films demonstrates how every individual has power, and our choices reflect the larger community, either for a greater good or a greater ill. When Themistocles delivers Leonides' sword to Gorgo, she is at the funeral pyre, facing those symbolic wheat fields that we discussed in the previous post on 300: the harvest is ripe and ready to be picked, the martyrs' blood has fallen and the Persians will reap the wrath of Greek for it.
Artemisia wants to dominate Themistocles so he doesn't dominate her (another sign of her feminism, not to mention her promiscuity in having sex with a man she has just met). Her weapons of choice are two, just like the two swords she uses in her final battle against him: first, she employs his lust for her, and secondly, "freedom without consequence or responsibility." The reason this sex scene is so violent is because both of them are determined to make the other one submissive; Themistocles wins, having his way with her and she can do nothing about it, especially after he rejects her offer, so she attempts to demoralize him with the comment, "You're not a god, just a man," and to some degree, she's justified in saying it because it would have been smarter (an employment of Athenian wisdom) for Themistocles not to have had sex with her in the first place, which would have validated that he was a true Athenian, being guided by Athena--goddess of wisdom and war--in all things. So, Themistocles stabbing (the phallic symbol) Artemisia in the stomach (her womb) is a sign of her "giving birth" to a new era of Greek freedom because of her defeat (remember, please, and forgive the profanity, she brings in this layer of sexual interpretation when she says, "You fight harder than you f**k,").
Calisto, we know, symbolizes the future because Themistocles tells us so when they meet with Calisto's father to discuss the upcoming events. Why is this important? Because liberals would have us believe that the younger generations voted Obama into office and they want to lay back and give up the Constitution and become socialist; when Calisto tells Themistocles that he wants to fight to save Greece, Calisto is being defiant beyond his years, which leads us to our next point. Calisto's father did not want his son to join the fighting against the Persians. Had Calisto not gone and joined Themistocles, Calisto never would have earned his father's respect, the right to sit at the table and his own self-respect and manhood. Calisto proves that freedom must be earned and we come out at the other end of suffering stronger for it. Additionally, Calisto contrasts Themistocles with Artemisia when Themistocles takes Calisto under his wing to let Calisto fight with him, but also to let Themistocles keep an eye on him and protect him; Artemisia, however, expects others to protect her (her personal guard) and she sends her bodyguard as suicide bombers, demonstrating she doesn't care about them or others' lives in general. Why does Calisto put on the face paint/make-up on the last day of battle? He looks very much like death--his eyes are dark like Artemisia's--so we could say, he has dressed himself as the very figure of Death the Persians have given themselves over to in their sins: Calisto has come to reap their lives because they have abused their free will and not lived by the spirit in seeking to steal away the freedom of others.
Now that we have all the major pieces in place, we can re-visit the issue of why Themistocles did not kill Xerxes when he killed Darius. We have actually seen the exact same situation in both Ender's Game (Ender doesn't allow the Formics to die out), the group of primitive inhabitants of the Class M(arxist) planet at the very start of Star Trek Into Darkness (and Kahn and his crew)  and Thor the Dark World with Odin not leaving Loki to die as a child. If Xerxes, as a god-king, symbolizes Obama as a "messiah" figure, according to liberal Barbara Walters, and the socialism Obama promised his supporters, why not kill him? Because socialism, regrettably, provides a necessary balance to keeping capitalism from becoming savage and its own form of tyranny (for more, please see, The Enemy Of My Enemy: Star Trek Into Darkness). Remember what Artemisia tells Themistocles when he is on her ship: the squabbling bureaucrats are protecting themselves and sending you here to fight their battles; Themistocles dismisses it, but it's something we can't (we know how Congress works).
In Xerxes being a "god king," and elevating himself so much over his people upon whom he looks down, we can clearly see Obama, who also looks down on the American people from the heights he has elevated himself, and expects to be worshipped rather than challenged or criticized.
The last item: why is the blood so thick in 300: Rise Of An Empire? Because blood is thick, and there is nothing more valuable than blood, for blood is life itself. The viscosity of the blood spurting across the screen insures that we notice it, that we don't take for granted with others have shed their blood for, and make us question what we ourselves are willing to shed our blood for. In conclusion, the entire film is based upon the dichotomy of "slavery" and "freedom," especially slavery masquerading as freedom, like what Artemisia offers Themistocles, and he wisely rejects twice, because real freedom has consequences and responsibility, and if anyone tries selling you freedom that is free of obligations, they want your soul.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner