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The Greek warrior and poet Archilochus March 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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The warrior and poet Archilochus, who lived in Greece in the 7th century BC has always appealed to me.

For one thing, he has a special place in literature since he was the first poet known to have written in the first person. Also, there was a time when he lived on the frontier in hard and dangerous times and had to knead his bread and press his wine, a spear at hand in case the Thracian foe attacked unexpectedly.

Archilochus was a blunt and direct man, even with his top commanders. He did not suffer fools to deceive himself or his King with cosy words. He grew angry amidst flatterers. There is a legend that when he died, a nest of hornets settled on his grave and forever afterwards whenever liars, flatterers, and obsequious yes-men pass near that grave a golden horde of bees swarm and buzz with anger and outrage.

Is 300 good for kids and teens? Parents advisory March 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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300 battles rough for kids and teens >
Rating >
 R, for graphic battle sequences throughout, some sexuality and nudity.
What it’s about > Three hundred Spartans stand between the Persian Empire and all of Greece in this comic book retelling of the historic Battle of Thermopylae.
The Kid Attractor Factor > Lurid colors, blood, guts and sex.
Good lessons and bad lessons > Nothing is more important than honor, duty, loyalty to one’s fellows and country.
Violence > Almost constant.
Language > Ancient Spartans didn’t swear. Apparently.
Sex > Rough, reasonably graphic.
Drugs > Wine.
Parents advisory > It’s a comic book movie for the 17-year-old boy in us all. Pretty rough for those 14 and younger.

Gray Matters >
Rating >
 PG-13, for some mature thematic material, sexual content and language.
What it’s about > Brother and sister have the hots for the same “perfect” girlfriend.
The Kid Attractor Factor > Heather Graham.
Good lessons and bad lessons > Honesty can save everybody a lot of trouble and a lot of pain.
Violence > None.
Language > Some profanity.
Sex > Bubble bath for two.
Drugs > Alcohol is used as an “excuse.”
Parents advisory > A lot tamer than you’d think. Still not for kids, though.

How Spartan workouts muscled Gerard Butler, the 300 star March 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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For all the computer-generated wizardry that went into the stylized look of Warner Bros “300”, it was old-fashioned discipline and drudgery that turned actor Gerard Butler into a Spartan warrior King.

Realizing he would have to parade around bare-chested for most of the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s extremely graphic novel, the 37-year-old Scotsman trained six hours a day for almost eight months. If Butler was to convincingly play King Leonidas, who led the titular small band of soldiers against a million invading Persians in 480 B.C., he wanted to look the part.

“I knew to get that extreme power, and exude that authority and leadership and that potential violence and brutality, that I wanted to earn that,” said Butler, best known for playing the title role in 2004’s “The Phantom of the Opera”.

“I wanted to really know that I had it and not feel like one of those public-school boy actors standing up there, pretending to be tough and pretending to be big, and having the men pretending to respect him.”

So Butler started his intense regimen four months before a one-month boot camp designed to turn Hollywood actors into Spartans, and continued throughout the 60-day shoot. There were two-hour sword-fighting sessions with the film’s stunt men; squat thrusts with weights and chains; having to watch the crew eat desserts off the catering spread while actors were on forced diets.

Worst of all was the dreaded bear crawl, in which the actors had to race around on hands and feet after their legs were quivering from squats. Butler tore his hip flexor muscle doing that drill.

“Pretty much anything Mark Twight, the production’s trainer, offered up was so difficult in the kind of way where you wish you had never been born, and even more than that, wished he had never been born,” said Butler.

“You don’t look at a bunch of Spartans and go, ‘I wonder which guy is going to pop out and be the King,'” said Zack Snyder, the film’s director. “In one shot you want to go, ‘Okay, that’s him,’ and that was how I felt about Gerry.”

The strapping 6-foot-2 actor said he’s looking forward to doing physically safer romantic comedies, like the upcoming “P.S., I Love You” with Hilary Swank.

“After the last day, I think I didn’t go back to a gym for seven months,” said Butler. “I didn’t want to see another gym in my life.”

Official Web Site > http://300themovie.warnerbros.com

Website of the 300 workout trainers > http://www.gymjones.com

Facts about the 300 Spartans March 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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  • In 1962, Geoffrey Unsworth directed a movie, “The 300 Spartans” about the battle. He filmed it on location at Thermopylae. Because it was a typical Hollywood sword-and-sand epic, it didn’t really give a sense of the heroic ideals of the battle and its importance.
  • The epic movie “300” is far removed from the Unsworth movie. It’s not a conventional account of the battle. It’s based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel. Director Zack Snyder says he made a conscious effort not to render reality. He made the movie on one physical set, using blue screen, on which he created the special effects. He told the British magazine Empire, “I tried to show that together the Spartans were like a machine, but that individually they had awesome athleticism. I wanted to make the blood not even real, to transcend that, so the violence itself becomes something else. It was fun to do because I like violence too much. But it makes for a good movie.”
  • You can buy Frank Miller’s original 1998 graphic novel and “300 The Art of the Film” about the making of the movie. This is a particularly valuable companion piece because it shows you the creation of the actors, their roles, and the battle’s physical setting, in more than 300 illustrations: Both volumes are $30 each and are available at Borders and Barnes & Noble.
  • The battle was the centerpiece of the 1998 best-selling novel “Gates of Fire” by Steven Pressfield. Pressfield, a historian who likes research, brings the times and the battle to life. The Spartans’ stand is described as a suicide mission to hold the pass against the invading hordes of the Persian army. Day after bloody day the Spartans withstood the terrible onslaught, buying time for the Greeks to rally their forces. Pressman says the battle “would be remembered for the greatest military stand in history, one that would not end until the rocks were awash with blood.”
  • An interesting account of the battle can be found in “The Histories” by Herodotus, who was alive at the time of Thermopylae. It is available at Borders and Barnes & Noble in a fresh, evocative translation by David Grene, The University of Chicago Press. The book’s front cover features the painting “Leonides at Thermopylae” by Jacques Louis David.
  • The painting is one of the major attractions at the Louvre in Paris.

300 > Go tell the Spartans March 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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spartans_tomb.jpg 

Make a pilgrimage to Thermopylae. Two memorials are there. The modern one, called the Leonidas Monument in honor of the Spartan King who fell there, is engraved with his response to Xerxes’ demand that the Spartans lay down their weapons.

Leonidas’ reply was “Molon lave” which means “Come and get it”.

The second monument, the ancient one, is an unadorned stone with the words of the poet Simonides. It’s perhaps the most famous of all warrior epitaphs:

“Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here, obedient to their laws, we lie” and in ancient Greek “O ksein aggellein Lacedemoniois oti tide keimetha tois keinon rimasi peithomenoi”.

spartans_thermopylae.jpg 

Is there any other way other than this one, for us the Greeks to feel proud of our ancient heritage and legacy? I guess, not!

300 > Greeks in Astoria, NY say “the power of being Greek” March 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Movies Life.
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300film1.jpg  Astoria is going wild for “300” the big-budget Hollywood movie based on a heroic battle in ancient Greece that allowed democracy to flourish.

At least one group of 50 Greek-American buddies, many of them from Queens’ famed Greek neighborhood, literally invaded Manhattan for the opening-night show of the superhyped movie. The Warner Bros film tells the story of 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas in the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., one of history’s most famous last stands.

“We have a whole Greek contingent going,” said Peter Lagonikos, an Astoria lawyer whose parents emigrated to New York from Sparta.

Astoria cafe owner Harry Panagiopopoulos, 28, said, “We’ve been talking about it for the past year. It’s a big deal for Greek heritage. It’s one of the greatest stories of all time.”

Because they’d have to go barechested, the gang of New York Greeks, from as far away as Long Island, aren’t going to dress up as Spartan warriors. Even so, the atmosphere at the  AMC Loews Lincoln Square IMAX theater at 68th St. and Broadway is expected to be raucous.

“I can only imagine the mood of this crowd leaving the theater,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), an Italian-American who is joining them for the late-night showing. “I’m an honorary Greek,” said Vallone. “We have more Greeks in Astoria than anywhere outside of Athens.”

Lagonikos’ older brother, John, is dead serious about his heritage. “It was one of the major battles that was fought for democracy as we know it,” said John Lagonikos, 35, a doctor who lives in Nassau County. “If they hadn’t stopped the army, who knows what the world would be like today?” he said.

History’s accounts of the battle tell of a small but brave Spartan force, they were eventually slaughtered, using the narrow Thermopylae pass to block an advancing army of hundreds of thousand of Persians. Leonidas’ soldiers held off the Persians long enough to allow retreating Greek armies to prepare for the next battle, one that determined the outcome of the war and allowed Greek civilization to flourish.

The Lagonikos brothers grew up in a home with statues of Leonidas in their living room. “He was a real figure, of almost mythical proportions,” Peter Lagonikos said with pride. Panagiopopoulos said, “It makes me feel … the power of being Greek.”